This magnificent sarcophagus, designed as the final resting place of a Roman military commander, is decorated with a battle scene between soldiers and Amazons, the legendary warrior women of the ancient world. The standing figures are soldiers, wearing helmets, short tunics, and plates of body armor. The soldiers are armed with swords and protect themselves with round shields. The Amazons ride horses; their fallen sisters lay dead on the ground. The four corners of the sarcophagus predict the battle's outcome. They are decorated with trophies composed of the Amazons' weapons and kneeling Amazon prisoners, hands bound behind their backs. The lid is designed in the shape of the roof of a Roman temple. Fine rows of vertical "tiles" culminate in lions' heads. The ends of the lid are decorated with round shields. Several clues suggest that the owner of this sarcophagus was an important officer in the Roman army. The soldiers stand larger than life among the horses and their Amazon riders. Their knotted belts were the mark of high-ranking officers. The presence of trophies and prisoners indicates military victories.

Cataloguing data may change with further research.

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Sarcophagus Depicting a Battle between Soldiers and Amazons (Warrior Women)
140–170 AD
40 1/2 × 91 1/2 × 50 1/2 in., 5511.5lb. (102.9 × 232.4 × 128.3 cm, 2500kg)
Credit Line

Museum purchase funded by the Agnes Cullen Arnold Endowment Fund in memory of Peter C. Marzio

Current Location
The Audrey Jones Beck Building
Accession Number
Mummies, Tomb & Funerary Art

Private collection, Eastern Europe, 19th century; purchased by Pierre Sciclounoff, Geneva, 1960s–late-1980s; private collection, mid-1990s; [Phoenix Ancient Art, New York/Geneva, by at least 2003–2006]; purchased by MFAH, 2006.