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Sarkophage der römischen Kaiserzeit in der Türkei Ein Überblick (mit einer Bibliographie) [Sarcophagi of the Roman Imperial Period in Turkey]
Guntram KOCH*

Sarcophagi have a special meaning within the Roman Imperial period sculpture in Anatolia. Although they have been recovered in high numbers most of them have been published and most are kept in the storerooms; thus, the confusion about them does not allow an overall look on the sarcophagi. In order to facilitate the understanding of the subject matter a comprehensive bibliography of important and up-to-date studies is appended to the study.

As shown by the so-called Polyxena Sarcophagus of the late 6th century BC found in northwestern Anatolia a few years ago and the Persian Sarcophagus of the early 5th century BC sarcophagi with relief decoration belong to a long tradition in Anatolia. Thereafter, there are a few more examples possibly datable to the Hellenistic and Early Roman Imperial period. However, the continuity issue of this tradition uninterrupted from the 6th century BC to the 2nd century AD needs to stay a mystery for the time being.

The present study covers the four basic types from the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD and ostotheks, which constitute the fifth group, will be handled only briefly.

1. Dokimeion: During the 2nd and 3rd centuries AD of the Roman Imperial period, there were three main centres of sarcophagus production. Their production were not limited to their region but rather exported to various regions in high quantities. Dokimeion in Phrygia, which started the production of sarcophagi with garlands in the first half of the 2nd century, became the third centre after Rome and Athens. Sarcophagi produced in Dokimeion distinguish themselves with respect to depictions, style and motifs; its chubby garlands and rich motifs display excellent workmanship.

2. Imported Sarcophagi in Anatolia and their Influence to the Asia Minor Sarcophagi of Other Regions: Although Dokimeion with its high quality and value production lies in Asia Minor, yet other sarcophagi were imported from the other two centres, particularly from Athens. The Attic sarcophagi of Pentelikon marble with their decorative friezes and styles have different arrangement along the top and bottom edges and thus, distinguish themselves from the Dokimeion examples. These sarcophagi have their backsides and one of the lateral sides worked roughly and superficially only and animals as well as fantastic creatures like sphinxes and griffin are prevalent. Beside the imported sarcophagi, stylistic study of sarcophagi made from local material has shown that some Attic masters came to Asia Minor and produced here as well as Attic sarcophagi were often taken as examples. Although it has been ascertained that sarcophagi were imported into Asia Minor from Rome and that Roman influence was reflected on the Dokimeion sarcophagi, there has been no evidence attained to date that Roman masters worked in the workshops of Asia Minor.

3. Semi-worked Sarcophagi: These have a special place among the sarcophagi of Asia Minor. Their workmanship is not rough; they are deliberately left unfinished so that they could be finished as per the desire of the owner; particularly, examples of Prokonnesos (Marmara) Island are quite widespread. These sarcophagi have many types and in many cases they were used without being finished; they are encountered across a vast geography within the Roman Empire. Except for the Prokonnesian examples, other semi-worked sarcophagi were used mainly at settlements near the quarries while only very few examples were exported to other cities in Asia Minor or to other regions of the Roman Empire.

4. Other artistic centres in Asia Minor and in other regions of Turkey: Most of the local workshops in Asia Minor, which had numerous artistic centres, produced mainly sarcophagi with regional context and rarely imported ones. These sarcophagi partly retained their local traditions while they were also influenced from the sarcophagi of Dokimeion and imported Attic and Roman examples. Beside local materials, Dokimeion marble was also used for production in these regions. Within the borders of modern Turkey the regions, which are worthy of detailed study individually, are Thrace, Byzantium (Istanbul), Bithynia, Mşsia and Troas, Ionia and Lydia, Caria, Lycia, Phrygia, Pisidia, Pamphylia, Cilicia, Isauria – Lycaonia, and the part of the Roman Syria which remains within Turkey today, as well as some settlements where individual examples have been found such as Sinop, Amasya, Tyana (Kemerhisar), Kaisareia (Kayseri) or Zeugma.

5. Ostotheks: Beside numerous sarcophagi in the province of Asia Minor, ostotheks, which are typical for this province, should be mentioned. In addition to numerous local groups, individual ostotheks with unusual decoration and depictions are also found. Their production sites can be cited as Dokimeion, Bithynia, Sardes, Ephesos, Caria, Pisidia, border region between Pamphylia and Cilicia, as well as Lycaonia.

* Prof. Dr. Dr. h.c. Guntram Koch
Christlich Archäologisches Seminar, Marburg/Almanya
E-mail: kochg@staff.uni-marburg.de

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