Burial in stone coffins, many decorated in relief, was a popular practice in the Near East under Roman rule. Being part of a funerary context, the coffins played a role in the proper care for and remembrance of the deceased. As a container for the corpse - simultaneously protecting the body and hiding its disintegration- it speaks directly to concepts of the body held by the burying community, and to the role of the materiality of the coffin and its decoration in the care for the dead. This PhD project investigates the ritual function of sarcophagi in their material and pictorial setting.
The research concentrates on the coast of Lebanon, which had a long history of use of coffin burials. Legacy and orphaned collections from older excavations and epigraphic or art historical surveys form the core dataset. Contextual data comes from recent rescue excavations, such as those in Beirut.
Researcher: Nicholas Aherne
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