Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online

Get access

Sarcophagi, Christian
(3,149 words)

Sarcophagi were coffins, usually made of stone (the most expensive of marble), or of lead, terracotta, or wood. The term sarcophagus (from Gk sarx + phagein, “flesh-eater”) reflects an ancient belief that certain types of stone had corpse-consuming properties (Plin. Nat. 2.211; 36.131; Juv. Sat. 10.172). However, the primary purpose of a sarcophagus was not to decompose the body but to separate it, house it, and, when sarcophagi were decorated with reliefs, …

Cite this page
Ellison, Mark D., “Sarcophagi, Christian”, in: Brill Encyclopedia of Early Christianity Online, General Editor David G. Hunter, Paul J.J. van Geest, Bert Jan Lietaert Peerbolte. Consulted online on 09 May 2021 <http://dx.doi.org/10.1163/2589-7993_EECO_SIM_040624>
First published online: 2020



▲   Back to top   ▲