The doll was unearthed, along with six tesseræ (cubes) representing circus games and four ivory dice, inside a sarcophagus dating from the first third of the fourth century A.D., discovered near the left side of the Basilica of St. Sebastian in Rome in 1937. Remains of valuable fabrics with gold thread were still attached to the body of the doll, notable for its moveable limbs. On the sarcophagus – which contained the body of a young woman aged around fifteen, which possibly underwent treatment for mummification – Christian themes are depicted: the multiplication of the bread and fishes, the resurrection of Lazarus and the arrest of Peter; on the lid, an empty tabula for inscription and the bust of a man and a woman in the act of prayer with drapes in the background, held by erotes.
The evidence would point to the burial of a girl belonging to an eminent Christian family from Rome in the late Imperial age. The location of the Basilica was a significant choice: according to tradition, around the mid third century A.D., the bodies of Sts. Peter and Paul were translated there.