Early Christian sarcophagi (3rd-7th centuries)

Early Christian sarcophagi carved with emblems or with figures are often ambiguous in their imagery, but this may partly be because the sculptors, in the early years of Christianity, were virtually all pagan, and many sarcophagi were part carved in provincial workshops and exported to Rome to be finished according to the purchaser's wishes. Some were clearly made specially for Christian clients, and that they adapt the forms which had long been used for pagan clients is no more surprising than the use of pre-Christian building forms, or traditional mosaic designs. It was the most expensive form of burial, and presupposes that the occupant of the tomb came from a higher position in society than those buried in the 'cubucula' of the catacombs.

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