this piece has been cracked through the middle

Cinerary Box with Cover, 1st century CE



The John R. Van Derlip Fundexpand_more  62.20a,b

This cinerary urn resembles a small building with pitched roof. The inscription attests that it contained the ashes of a man and a woman, possibly husband and wife, who were freed slaves:

To the divine shades of D(ecimus) Aemilius Chius and Hortensia Phebe

The ornamentation combines symbols related to death and resurrection. The garlands and fruit indicate regeneration and eternal life; the winged harpies on the front corners are fantastic creatures thought to carry off the souls of the dead; the eagles on the back corners represent man's spiritual ability to soar heavenwards. The central gorgon's head serves to ward off evil influence. The back is not decorated, as the urn would have been places in a niche inside a tomb.

Cinerary Box with Cover
Accession Number
Curator Approved

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this piece has been cracked through the middle