- Museum number
The back and right side of a Pentelic marble sarcophagus, with the right end of the lid; battle before Troy (right side); confronted griffins with candelabrum (back); reclining figures (lid).
On the right side, a rider falls from his rearing horse over a fallen warrior; a second rider, dressed in helmet and chlamys, tramples a fallen rider and horse. To the right, a warrior stands with his right arm raised above his helmet. The richly decorated upper mouldings comprise a flowered scroll, a Lesbian cymatium, ovolo and bead-and-reel. The lower cymatium is decorated with acanthus leaves, the pedestal to the right with flowered scroll and leaves.
The standing warrior may also be seen on the unfinished back. Here two winged griffins stand facing each other, each with a paw resting on a candelabrum. None of the mouldings is decorated. Of the lid, only fragments of drapery and arm are preserved, along with the right end of the kline, richly decorated on the exterior with flowers set in double lozenges, surrounded by rosettes set in rectangular panels. The forms of the flowers and rosettes echo those in the frieze directly below, on the upper moulding of the chest.
- Production date
- 240-260 (circa)
Height: 90.30 centimetres (Chest)
Height: 28.50 centimetres (Lid)
Length: 82 centimetres (Chest)
Length: 99 centimetres (Lid)
Width: 208 centimetres (Chest)
Width: 104 centimetres (Lid)
- Curator's comments
See also 1957.7-24.1. (part of lid)
Walker, Susan, 1990, Catalogue of Roman Sarcophagi in the British Museum:
C. Fellows, Travels and Researches in Lycia (London 1852), 503; Smith, II 60-1 no. 957 a-b; G. Rodenwaldt, JHS 53 (1933), 181-213, esp. pp. 189-92; Giuliano, Commercio 83, no. 271 (entry missing from p. 49); P. Demargne, Mél.Piganiol (Paris 1966), 451, n. 1; Koch-Sichtermann, 406, n. 5, 407, 409 no. 46, 459 no. 46; Walker, Memorials 21, fig. 11.
The fragments now in London belong to a group of Attic sarcophagi depicting battles before Troy. Rodenwaldt knew of only four examples, but now over sixty are known.(1) The London example is typical of the group in its lively composition, using bold diagonal figures, contorted figures at ground level, and an upright figure turned to unite and close the scene. The members of the group differ considerably from each other, suggesting no common source but a lively adaptation of similar scenes on Attic Amazonomachy sarcophagi, developed earlier in the second century.
Attic battle sarcophagi (which bear no relation to the metropolitan series, see 1951.0306.1 and 1772.0301.23) were first made in the later Antonine period, but were especially popular in the first half of the third century AD. The format of the London sarcophagus conforms to Type 3 of the Attic group from Tyre, in which the corner pedestals are preserved, but the framing caryatids have been replaced by figures from the scene, whose heads project into the upper mouldings.(2) The other members of the Tyre group are evidently later than the London sarcophagus, which is surely dated correctly by Koch and Sichtermann to AD 200-225.(3)
A second mausoleum to the east of the city of Xanthos yielded a fragmentary Attic battle sarcophagus with a similar format of lower mouldings and a fragmentary lid with reclining figures. This is surely approximately contemporary with the sarcophagus in London.(4)
1. Koch-Sichtermann, 406. For a general account with a list of known examples (to 1981) see pp. 405-10.
2. P. Linant de Bellefonds, Les Sarcophages Attiques de la Nécropole de Tyr (Paris 1985), pi. 3.
3. Eadem, 179; Koch-Sichtermann, 407.
4. P. Demargne, Mél. Piganiol (Paris, 1966), 451-61 dates the sarcophagus 'assez haute dans le IIeme siecle' (p. 459); Koch-Sichtermann, 407, imply a date of AD 225-50. The sarcophagus is listed with bibliography idem, p. 410 no. 68.
- Not on display
- The side is diagonally broken at the left from top to bottom of the figured scene. The right end of the rear of the chest is diagonally broken from left to right; much of the right griffin and the upper mouldings are lost. The surviving parts of the chest and lid are joined from fragments. On the lid, the hand of the male figure holding the scroll is restored.
- Acquisition date
- Greek and Roman
- Registration number
- Joined objects
Associated Group: G16418 (3 objects)
Associated Group: G16473 (3 objects)
Associated Group: G16419 (2 objects)