The Blessed Afterlife

Carved Etruscan sarcophagus lid, stone, Etruria, undated. 8-1278.

Funerary practice in ancient Etruria often included ritual meals for the newly-departed. Family members likely dined in the tomb itself. Depictions of the kline, or dining-couch, abound in Etruscan tombs, sarcophagi (stone coffins), and funerary art. This is the likely context of this sarcophagus lid. It immortalizes a woman lying on a kline as if taking a postprandial nap. Such finely carved memorials were reserved for the very few. Even fewer were the wealthy women who enjoyed them. Latest research demonstrates that women were more likely to be cremated rather than inhumated. Their ashes often ended up in perishable vessels. The woman who rested beneath that lid therefore belonged to the exclusive group of the vastly privileged.

-Bryn Treloar-Ballard

Other exhibit objects