Marble anthropoid sarcophagus

Period: Classical

Date: last quarter of the 5th century B.C.

Culture: Graeco-Phoenician

Medium: Parian marble

Dimensions: L. 87 3/4in. (222.9cm)

Classification: Stone Sculpture

Credit Line: The Cesnola Collection, Purchased by subscription, 1874–76

Accession Number: 74.51.2452


The lid of the sarcophagus shows an unarticulated, downward tapering body and the head of a woman framed by flowing hair; traces of red paint are still preserved in the hair. At the foot end of the box and on the lid appears the Phoenician letter "shin." According to recent investigations, the anthropoid sarcophagi of marble were quarried on the Greek island of Paros. They were prepared up to a certain point and finished at their destinations. The inscribed letters here strongly suggest that the sculptor was Phoenician, which would be entirely plausible at Amathus and Kition, two centers of Phoenician occupation on Cyprus. Such fine, expensive coffins inspired local copies in limestone and terracotta.