sarcophagus

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sarcophagus

(särkŏf`əgəs) [Gr.,=flesh-eater], name given by the Greeks to a special marble found in Asia Minor, near the territory of ancient Troy, and used in caskets. It was believed to have the property of destroying the entire body, except for the teeth, within a few weeks. The term later generally designated any elaborate burial casket not sunk underground. The oldest known examples are from Egypt; they are box-shaped with a separate lid, which sometimes has sculptured effigies of the corpses. The sarcophagus of Tutankhamen (14th cent. B.C.), which was rediscovered in 1922, is of red granite and ornamented with reliefs of spirits with outspread wings. Later Egyptian sarcophagi were sometimes shaped to the body they contained. Sarcophagi were not in common use in Greece earlier than the 6th cent. B.C. because of the previous custom of cremation. After that time they became numerous. Records reveal that the majority of sarcophagi were made of wood, but those that remain are of stone and terra-cotta, as evidenced in the early 6th-century examples (British Mus.) from Clazomenae. Many Greek and Etruscan sarcophagi are in the shape of a couch; others, such as the sarcophagus of Alexander the Great, are carved and painted in imitation of temple architecture. The marble sarcophagi (excavated in 1877) from Sidon, a chief city of ancient Phoenicia, are among the finest examples of Greek art. In Rome sarcophagi became popular before the Punic Wars. The earliest known example is that of the consul Cneius Cornelius Scipio of the 3d cent. B.C., now in the Vatican. Under the rule of the emperors Roman sarcophagi became elaborate, with mythological scenes carved on the sides and statues of the deceased on the lid. The early Christians also used sarcophagi for their distinguished dead. The carvings, usually representing Bible stories, are the chief source of early Christian sculpture. In the Middle Ages sarcophagi proper were used only in rare instances for especially elaborate entombments. Although memorials in the shape and decoration of sarcophagi were erected during the Renaissance and later, the body itself was almost always buried underground.

Bibliography

See E. Panofsky, Tomb Sculpture (1964).

Sarcophagus

An elaborate coffin for an important person, of terra-cotta, wood, stone, metal, or other material, decorated with painting and carving and large enough to contain only the body. If larger, it becomes a tomb.

Sarcophagus

 

in ancient times, a coffin or tomb; generally, any coffin whose design is based on architectural and artistic principles. The sarcophagi of ancient Egypt consisted of many parts. Originally resembling dwellings, they became mummylike in appearance after the third millennium B.C. Etruscan sarcophagi had a figure of the deceased on the lid, and Hellenic, ancient Roman, and early medieval sarcophagi were decorated with reliefs and architectural details. A type of classical sarcophagus developed during the Renaissance and the baroque period.

REFERENCES

Panofsky, E. Tomb Sculpture. New York [1964].
Danadoni Roveri, A. M. I sarkofagi egizi … Rome, 1969.

sarcophagus

sarcophagus of Roman Imperial time
An elaborate coffin for an important personage, of terra-cotta, wood, stone, metal, or other material, decorated with painting, carving, etc., and large enough to contain only the body. If larger, it becomes a tomb.
References in periodicals archive ?
It was important to the students that their sarcophagi had special meaning, just as they did to the ancient Egyptians.
The team found "a collection of sarcophagi of different shapes and sizes, as well as clay fragments," the statement quoted Ayman Ashmawy, head of the ministry's Ancient Egyptian Antiquities Sector, as saying.
Discovered in Sidon, these sarcophagi date from the sixth to the fourth century B.
Following in this tradition, we will present here a remarkable new discovery of three marble sarcophagi from the ancient region of Amrit and propose a possible change to the context of the analysis and evaluation of these funerary materials in their formal aspects--contextual and chronological--as well as in their socio-cultural interpretation.
An exception occurs in the case of elite families that can afford to have sarcophagi made of ironwood.
Apart from the sarcophagi, the archeologists also found pieces of glass, plates and bones during the excavation.
What makes the Tetnies sarcophagi unique among the few surviving examples of expensive, full-sized, stone sarcophagi are the emotionally moving portrayals of intimacy between the married couples on their lids (Figs.
It is quite magnificent with its three sarcophagi that get smaller in ascending order.
One of the sandstone sarcophagi bore carvings on the front and sides but not the back which was left blank, while the second bore carvings depicting semicircular coronets in the shape of roses, fruit, laurel and grapes along with embossed bull heads and busts of three bereaved women.
Life, death and representation; some new work on Roman sarcophagi.
I was particularly taken with the sarcophagi and canopic jars that had carved images of the deceased whose bones or internal organs had been placed within.
The burial chambers have been carefully recreated, from sarcophagi to scarabs, to give visitors the most authentic experience possible.