Paleo-Christian Sarcophagi

A great deal about Christian beliefs and practices can be learned from study of the sarcophagi of the 3rd through 8th centuries. I have photographed quite a few of these and refer to them in various parts of this web site. For those whose interest is in the sarcophagi themselves, here is a list of the ones featured on the web site. (Images are available by passing a mouse over the links. Further discussion will be found by following the links.)

  1. Palazzo Massimo, Rome
    1. Sarcophagus of Marcus Claudianus
      Subjects shown: The Nativity, The Woman with the Flow of Blood, Abraham and Isaac, Moses Receives the Law, Harvest and Vintage, Peter's Water Miracle, Peter's Arrest, Cana, The Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Jesus-Peter-Rooster, Lazarus

  2. San Sebastiano, Rome
    1. Sarcophagus of Lot
      Subject shown: Adam and Eve Expelled from Paradise

  3. Musée Réattu, Arles, France
    1. Sarcophagus with Scenes of St. Peter
      Subjects shown: The Three Youths in the Furnace, The Adoration of the Magi, Peter's Water Miracle, Peter's Arrest, Jesus-Peter-Rooster, Orant, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Cana, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Lazarus
    2. Sarcophagus with Scenes from Scripture
      Subjects shown: The Slaughter of the Innocents, Abraham and Isaac, Adam and Eve, Moses Receives the Law, Jesus Cures the Paralytic, The Woman with the Flow of Blood, The Adoration of the Magi, Cana, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Peter's Water Miracle, Soldiers-Tree-Man Reading Scroll

  4. Metropolitan Museum, New York City
    1. Sarcophagus Frontal with Scenes from the Lives of St. Peter and Jesus
      Subjects shown: Peter's Water Miracle, Jesus' Entry into Jerusalem, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Lazarus

  5. Cathedral of St. Domnius, Split, Croatia
    1. Good Shepherd Sarcophagus
      Subject shown: A shepherd with two sheep

  6. Archeological Museum, Split, Croatia
    1. Sarcophagus with the Crossing of the Red Sea
      Subject of the the entire frontal is the Israelites' crossing of the Red Sea. On the rear are an orant and two men with scrolls.
    2. Sarcophagus of Julia Aurelia Hilara
      Subjects shown: Good shepherd, Rams Grazing
    3. Staurogram Sarcophagus
      Subjects shown: Staurograms, birds, alpha and omega, fisher
    4. Sarcophagus End with Vintage
      Subjects shown: Left end of a pagan sarcophagus portraying vintage
    5. Three fragments of a sarcophagus cover
      Subjects shown: Left and right acroteria with sheep and names of the apostles. Central relief with a Chi-Rho, gospel quotation, and Christ symbolized as the Lamb of God
    6. The Good Shepherd Sarcophagus
      Subject: A shepherd, possibly intended to refer to Jesus as the Good Shepherd

  7. Museo Pio Cristiano, The Vatican
    1. Passion Sarcophagus with Pilate's Wife
      Subjects shown: Crucifixion and Resurrection (symbolic), Pilate and his Wife, Arrest of Peter. Peter's Preaching? Peter's Water Miracle?
    2. Sarcophagus of the Cross
      Subjects shown: Arrests of Peter and Jesus, Jesus with the Cross, Pilate
    3. The Sarcophagus of Two Brothers
      Subjects shown: Lazarus, Jesus-Peter-Rooster, Moses Receives the Law, Abraham and Isaac, Pilate, Peter's Arrest, Daniel, Soldiers-Man-Scroll, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Jesus Cures the Paralytic (?)
    4. Star-and-Crown Sarcophagus
      Subject shown: Fragment showing four apostles with crowns, presumed facing a now-lost symbolic Anastasis
    5. Columnar Sarcophagus with Anastasis and Apostles (inventory 31529)
      Subject shown: Symbolic representation of the resurrection, framed by the twelve apostles bringing wreaths
    6. The Ludovisi Sarcophagus
      Subjects shown: Jesus Resurrects the Daughter of Jairus (or the son of the widow of Naim), Lazarus, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Peter's Water Miracle
    7. Sarcophagus of Domatilla
      Subjects shown: Carrying of the Cross, Jesus Crowned with Thorns, Chi-Rho, Resurrection, Pilate
    8. The Jonah Sarcophagus
      Subjects shown: Lazarus, Moses' Water Miracle, Resurrection, Shepherd, Jonah, Noah, Fishers
    9. Child Sarcophagus
      Subjects shown: Adoration of the Magi, Nativity, Daniel, Chi-Rho, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Peter's Water Miracle, Peter's Arrest
    10. Sarcophagus Lid (inventory 31533)
      Subjects shown: Adam and Eve, Moses Receives the Law, Adoration of the Magi, Noah, Jonah, Peter's Water Miracle
    11. Sarcophagus Lid from the Cemetery of Callixtus (inventory 31483)
      Subjects shown: Jonah, Daniel, Abraham and Isaac
    12. Sarcophagus of Crispina
      Subjects shown: Adoration of the Magi, Nativity, Daniel, Chi-Rho, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Peter's Water Miracle, Peter's Arrest
    13. Sarcophagus of Fyrmus
      Subjects shown: Shepherd, Fisher
    14. The Ezekiel Sarcophagus
      Subjects shown: Peter's Water Miracle, Peter's Arrest, The Dry Bones (?), Jesus Resurrects the Daughter of Jairus, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Jesus' Entry into Jerusalem
    15. Sarcophagus of Agape and Crescentianus
      Subjects shown:
      • Lid: The Three Youths in the Furnace, Jonah
      • Case: Abraham and Isaac, Moses Receives the Law, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Jesus-Peter-Rooster, The Woman with the Flow of Blood, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Peter's Water Miracle
      • Left end: Adam and Eve
      • Right end: The Three Youths in the Furnace
    16. The Dogmatic Sarcophagus
      Subjects shown: Creation of Eve by the Trinity, Cana, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Lazarus, Adoration of the Magi, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Daniel, Jesus-Peter-Rooster, Peter's Arrest, Peter's Water Miracle
    17. Sarcophagus 31471 ext 134
      • Lid, with Jesus' Entry into Jerusalem, Traditio Legis, Daniel, Lazarus
      • Case, with Noah and the Three Youths in the Furnace
    18. Double-Register Sarcophagus (inventory 31546)
      Subjects shown: Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Jesus-Peter-Rooster, Moses Receives the Law, Abraham and Isaac, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Lazarus, Orant, Peter's Arrest, The Three Youths in the Furnace, Daniel, Cana, Jesus Cures the Paralytic, Peter's Water Miracle
    19. Sarcophagus (inventory 31541)
      Subjects shown: Cana, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Jesus Resurrects the Daughter of Jairus, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, The Woman with the Flow of Blood, Snake-Tree-Altar (?)
    20. Sarcophagus (inventory 31551)
      Subjects shown: Jesus' Entry into Jerusalem, Tasks Assigned to Adam and Eve, Moses Receives the Law, Abraham and Isaac, Jesus Resurrects the Daughter of Jairus, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Peter's Water Miracle, Peter's Arrest, Jesus-Peter-Rooster, Daniel, Jesus Cures the Paralytic, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, The Woman with the Flow of Blood, Cana

  8. Archeological Museum, Syracuse, Sicily
    1. The Sarcophagus of Adelphia
      Subjects shown:
      • Lid: Annunciation or ?, Sophia or Virgin Mary, Adoration of the Magi, Nativity
      • Upper Register: Tasks Assigned to Adam and Eve, Jesus-Peter-Rooster, The Woman with the Flow of Blood, Moses Receives the Law, Abraham and Isaac, Jesus Cures the Blind Man, Multiplication of the Loaves and Fishes, Jesus Resurrects the Daughter of Jairus
      • Lower Register: The Three Youths in the Furnace, Cana, Adoration of the Magi, Adam and Eve, Jesus' Entry into Jerusalem

  9. Basilica of Sant'Apollinare in Classe, Ravenna, Italy
    1. Sarcophagus with Sheep Approaching Christ
      Subjects shown: Chi-Rhos, Cross, Chariot wheels, lambs, wreath, palm trees
    2. Columnar Sarcophagus with Sheep Eating Dates
      Subjects shown: Sheep, date trees, crosses, scallop shells
    3. Sarcophagus with Sheep Carrying Crosses
      Subjects shown: Sheep carry crosses to an I-X Monogram in a wheel
    4. Temple Veil Sarcophagus
      Subjects shown: Cross framed by temple veil, Christ as Lamb of God, I-X monogram, Four Rivers of Paradise, Peacocks eating grapes
    5. Right and Left Ends of a Sarcophagus
      Subjects shown: Christ as the Lamb of God, Noah's Dove, Four Rivers of Paradise, Peacocks, Cross
    6. Sarcophagus with Peacocks at the Rivers of Paradise
      Subjects shown: Peacocks, Chi-Rho, The Four Rivers of Paradise, date palms, urn
    7. Sarcophagus with Sheep Eating Dates
      Subjects shown: Sheep, date palms, crosses, scallop shells
    8. Sarcophagus of St. Felix
      Subjects shown: Epitaph, sheep, crosses, wreaths, staurogram-style cross, architectural arches, chandeliers, alpha and omega
    9. Sarcophagus with Traditio Legis
      Subjects shown: Traditio Legis, Peter and successors (?)

  10. Museo Nazionale, Ravenna, Italy
    1. Sarcophagus with Lambs and Wreath
      Subjects shown: Lambs, wreath, Chi-Rho, palms, urn, cross, alpha and omega
    2. Sarcophagus with Lambs Approaching Wreath

  11. Mausoleum of Galla Placidia
    1. Sarcophagus of Valentinian III
      Subjects shown: Sheep, date palms, wheels (?)
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