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Currently shown

Coffin

Location

Probably LEBANON, TYRE

Era

Roman Empire (27 B.C.E.-476 C.E.)

Title

Coffin

Date

Late 2nd-mid 3rd c. C.E.

Materials

Lead, moulded decoration

Dimensions

57 x 167 x 43 cm

Credits

Purchase, Horsley and Annie Townsend Bequest, inv. 1964.Ea.1

Collection

Archeology and World Cultures

Lead coffins were very common in the eastern Mediterranean between the second and fourth centuries C.E. They consist of sheets produced by pouring lead into a mould made of clay or wet sand into which decorative motifs had been stamped. This technique explains the repetition of motifs on each coffin and across coffins. Here, the decoration is characteristic of coffins from Tyre: Corinthian columns frame panels with Medusa masks and sphinxes surrounded by kantharoi, dolphins and various plants. Quite fragile, due the malleability of lead, this coffin may not have been visible beyond the burial event. Similar coffins have been found encased in larger wood coffins or concealed in cavities below the floor of tombs.

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