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Case 3: East Greece 600-450 BC

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One way to bury the dead: a 'Clazomenian' sarcophagus

Clay coffins like this one were used for wealthy burials in areas of east Greece for over one hundred years. They were decorated in the same technique as the local pottery, and were fired in large kilns, probably also used for tile production. These coffins are now known as ‘Clazomenian’, because many were found in the cemetery at Clazomenae, near modern Izmir in Turkey, but they have also been found elsewhere.

This coffin was found near the cemetery of Camirus on the island of Rhodes, and was probably made locally because it is too big and fragile to be transported far - the broken and mended sides of the coffin show the damage caused by its long journey to the Fitzwilliam Museum in 1902. The decoration shows two panther-heads and the heads of two warriors, one bearded and one clean-shaven. Only the front rim and inside were painted, suggesting that these were the only areas visible during the burial ceremony because the coffin was already sunk in the ground.

Production place: East Greece
Date: around  470 BC
Find spot: Camiros, Rhodes
Fired Clay

Object Number: GR.7.1902

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