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 Museum Explorer

Death in
Ancient Greece

Gravestone of a young man

Height: 1.940 m

GR 1824.7-13.1 (Sculpture 625)

Gravestone of a young man

From: Delos or Rheneia, Aegean Sea
Date: made around 350 BC

Gravestones from around this time often show the dead person with other people around them, and it can sometimes be hard to tell which person from the picture is buried in the grave. This stone shows a young boy passing an oil bottle to a naked young man, whose grave it probably marked. The oil bottle – and the young man’s muscles - suggests that he was an athlete.

Tombstones like these were expensive, and not everyone could afford them. Poorer people's graves were marked with pots, pieces of wood or just mounds of earth.

The tombstone probably comes from the island of Rheneia. Delos was a sacred island and no-one was allowed to be buried or born there. People about to die were quickly rushed across the narrow channel of water to neighbouring Rheneia.