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Extraordinary 1,700-year-old sarcophagus cover on view in Israel.

Byline: ANI

Washington, Feb 8 (ANI): Reports indicate that an extraordinary 1,700 year old sarcophagus cover is on view for the first time for the general public in Israel.

According to a report in Art Daily, the sarcophagus cover, which was discovered in Caesarea harbor in Israel, is on view for the public at a unique archaeological exhibition.

The cover, which weighs more than 4 tons, is decorated with snake-haired medusa heads and joyful and sad-faced masks.

These were taken from the world of the ancient theater where two kinds of plays were customarily presented: comedy and tragedy.

In antiquity, medusa reliefs were produced on, among other things, tombs and various shields, in the hope that this would ward off the threat.

Interment in large stone coffins (sarcophagi) was widespread in the Mediterranean basin in the second to fifth centuries CE.

This funerary custom was first practiced among pagans and was later also adopted by Jews, Christians and Samaritans.

The sarcophagus has two parts: a rectangular chest-like receptacle in which the deceased was placed and a lid.

The sarcophagi were interred inside burial structures or in rock-hewn burial caves.

The residents of ancient Caesarea were buried in cemeteries that were located in regions outside the built-up area of the city.

The impressive sarcophagus cover, which was probably used in the burial of one of Caesarea's wealthiest denizens in the Roman period, is one of an assortment of unique stone items that were exposed in archaeological excavations and by other means in Caesarea.

The items constitute living and tangible evidence of the lives of the rich in Caesarea, at a time when the city was a vibrant Roman provincial capital. (ANI)

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Publication:Asian News International
Date:Feb 8, 2010
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