"Strigilated" sarcophagi

The "strigil" was a metal tool used, especially by athletes, to clean the body after being doused with oil. It had the form of a concave, curved blade, a shape recalled by the S form of the decoration ("strigilature" or spiral fluting) that characterise some sarcophagi, especially those from between the third and fourth centuries. Sometimes, as in the exemplars in this section of the Museum, the strigilated fields on the fronts of the sarcophagus are alternated with circular medallions or figurative panels, in which there were portraits of the deceased or symbolic characters, bucolic scenes or depictions of scenes from biblical texts. Displayed alongside the strigilated sarcophagi there are numerous fragments decorated in relief, especially with depictions of scenes of voyages and banquets, alluding to the fate of the deceased in the Hereafter.