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Sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus

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Sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus

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The continuous-frieze sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus shows New Testament scenes on its front; and New and Old Testament scenes on its lid, along with pagan elements. The appearance of grape harvest imagery on the lid is ambiguous; it appears on pagan/secular and Christian sarcophagi with identical elements. From left to right on the lid: Jesus nativity scene, sacrifice of Isaac, inscription naming the deceased, image of the deceased as scholar, grape harvest scene.

Carvings on the front of the sarcophagus: Arrest of Peter, miracle of water and wine (with possible baptism reference), orant figure, miracle of loaves, healing a man born blind, prediction of Peters denial, resurrection of Lazarus and supplication of Lazaruss sister.

The scenes on this sarcophagus include several apparent departures from scriptural miracle stories. Jesus appears in three places as magician, using a wand to perform miracles. He stands above five baskets of bread, a number consistent with most sarcophagi of its age but inconsistent with either of the loaves-and-fish scriptural pairs, where the remaining baskets number seven and twelve (e.g. Matthew 4:17, Matthew 15:34). This could, however, have been a choice made by the sculptor for purely artistic reasons. The orant figure in the center is similar to those seen on earlier gravestones, and does not seem to be a scriptural reference. This posture is similar to that of the three youths in the furnace, and by Jesus when he passes the new law to Peter and Paul (non-scriptural) on several other sarcophagi of this era.


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Copyright 2007 by Bill Storage

Use your arrow keys to navigate between image pages.    Page created 11/6/2007





Keywords: archaeology, imperial portraiture, emperor, iconography, ancient Rome