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Roman Strigillated SarcophagiArt and Social History$
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Janet Huskinson

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780199203246

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: December 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199203246.001.0001

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The Decoration of Strigillated Sarcophagi

The Decoration of Strigillated Sarcophagi

(p.75) 5 The Decoration of Strigillated Sarcophagi
Roman Strigillated Sarcophagi

Janet Huskinson

Oxford University Press

This chapter focuses on the decorative components—figures, fluting, and architectural—intended to make strigillated sarcophagi suitable monuments for the dead. It surveys each in turn, to consider their sources and antecedents, and associative value for viewers. It argues that the motif of curved fluting was grounded in Graeco-Roman architectural traditions, while the architectural elements had strong parallels with the architecture and decoration of Roman tombs and houses. Figures were drawn from a conventional repertory and were generally familiar to viewers. The second part of the chapter examines how each component operated within its appointed location on the sarcophagi: it needed to be both intelligible within itself and also capable of meaningful interaction with adjacent motifs. The chapter concludes that although the decorative components were conventional and visually familiar, it was their capacity for endless variation which shaped viewers’ individual readings of the imagery that confronted them.

Keywords:   decorative components, fluting, figures, architecture, associative value, antecedents, conventional, interaction

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