Sarcophagus lid with the portrait of a woman

Etruscan, around 250 BC
From Tarquinia, ancient Etruria, Italy

A portrait of an initiate in the mysteries of Dionysos

This sarcophagus lid bears a portrait figure of the woman who was buried inside the coffin. The figure is carved in high relief and the stone used is nenfro, a coarse-grained local Italian stone of volcanic origin.

The woman holds an ivy-tipped fennel-stalk or thyrsos in her left hand, and a two-handled cup in her right. She wears a fawn-skin over her other garments, and a fawn is shown beside her. All of these special attributes are connected with the cult of Dionysos, known in Etruria as Fufluns, and this woman must have been a follower of the god.

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More information


O. Brendel, Etruscan art, Pelican History of Art (Yale University Press, 1995)

E. Macnamara, The Etruscans-1 (London, The British Museum Press, 1990)


Height: 24.000 cm
Length: 221.000 cm
Width: 70.000 cm

Museum number

GR 1838.6-8.9 (Sculpture D 22)



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