A Roman Strigil Sarcophagus Front

    Circa 3rd century A.D.
    87 inches high x 23 inches wide

    This Roman sarcophagus incorporates the strigilar design, so named for its wavy pattern caused by the use of a strigil, a small metal tool Romans used to scrape sweat and oil from their bodies before the age of useful soaps. This sarcophagus front piece dates from the 3rd Century A.D., a time of great strife for the Roman Empire around the reign of Septimius Severus.

    The marble is sculpted with an image of the deceased at the center ensconced in a circle above the masks of tragedy and comedy taken from the ancient Greek images of life as both comedy and tragedy. The strigilated lines separate the round carved image from the end panels of the sarcophagus. At the left panel is a young man dressed in a tunic, perhaps a shepherd. A small dog jumps at his feet. At the right end is another carved figure, possibly a shepherd as well or a hunter standing with legs crossed and holding a stick with a dog lying next to him.

    From this dramatic and impressive funerary marble piece, it may be determined that the deceased was himself in some way related to hunting as many such clues have been left on individual sarcophagi, especially during this period. Most works such as these are found only in museums and, although this piece has a repair in rejoining two pieces at approximately one foot from the left end, it is rare to see a work such as this available to be placed into private hands.

    Repaired to rejoin two pieces.

    Sotheby's, London

    Condition Report*:

    Normal signs of wear as appropriate with age.

    *Heritage Auctions strives to provide as much information as possible but encourages in-person inspection by bidders. Statements regarding the condition of objects are only for general guidance and should not be relied upon as complete statements of fact, and do not constitute a representation, warranty or assumption of liability by Heritage. Please note that we do not de-frame lots estimated at $1,000 or less and may not be able to provide additional details for lots valued under $500. All lots are sold "AS IS" under the Terms & Conditions of Auction.

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    Auction Dates
    October, 2007
    13th Saturday
    Bids + Registered Phone Bidders: 4
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