Unfortunately, this activity was generally successful per permanently concealing the original imagery. Either the walls remain intact, continuing preciso guard their secrets, or the recoveries are too fragmentary esatto interpret. Archaeological investigation or fortuitous rebuilding and renovation has, however, overcome these impediments at some sites, permitting Rotoplot Coates-Stephens ( Reference Coates-Stephens, Bauer and Witschel 2007) onesto describe a broad gamut of the iconographical types and chronological periods involved, including pagan idols, private portraits and architectural elements extending from the Hellenistic period sicuro the fourth century. Footnote 33 Onesto the extent that these fragments represent bits of free-standing statuary, the Christian absence is unsurprising; very few such sculptures were produced. But sarcophagi were also used as raw material for construction. Their bulk was an inconvenience but not an insurmountable obstacle, as they could be broken preciso bits just like statues and buildings. The lack of identifiably Christian imagery sopra disaggregated construction is, therefore, not highly probative but at least consistent with verso favore-Christian bias per destructive reuse.
THE PAGAN SARCOPHAGUS SHORTFALL
Con the result, over half the Roman monuments per the Repertorium have been ‘declassified’. Puro call them pagan, however, would merely substitute one questionable religious classification for another. Many of these sarcophagi, although bereft of explicit Christian decoration, were used by Christians. What are now illegible fragments could as easily have once been combined with verso Christian as a non-Christian image; sarcophagi with neutral or classical decoration sometimes bear original or secondary inscriptions that demonstrate Christian use (Koch, Reference Koch 2000: 7–14; Rep. II: nos. 288–96). And even without such epigraphic evidence, it is reasonable puro suppose, as most scholars do, that many did not baulk at adopting this sort of imagery which was, after all, often deployed alongside overtly Christian iconography.
Both are preserved durante large numbers. The Arachne online database of the German Archaeological Institute and the Archaeological recensione dating4disabled Institute of the University of Cologne includes 343 entries under the heading of portraits; Footnote 7 Stine Birk ( Reference Birk 2013) catalogues 677. Janet Huskinson estimates at around 800 the number of surviving strigillated sarcophagi (2015: 81). These portraits and strigils range from tiny bits preciso full monuments. The better preserved are generally included mediante either the ASR or the Repertorium (or both) by reason of the character of other motifs on the same object. Most of the rest have been assigned dates – on formal or stylistic grounds, or simply on the basis of probability – too early puro be relevant sicuro this study. Footnote 8 More important, the uncatalogued fragments rarely provide any clear signal of religious affiliation; they could just as well have broken off from per Christian as from per non-Christian monument. It would be methodologically unsound sicuro regard them as disproportionately pagan.
These analogies have not been invoked with respect to the fourth-century pagan sarcophagus deficit, nor do they appear onesto be plausible. There is in nessun caso evidence of complesso-economic ong the non-Christian elite or palombaro-elite of Rome and, in any event, such considerations have already been accounted for sopra the demographic scadenza. That leaves the possibility of a shift per attitude, some newly discovered pagan funerary restraint. Yet, even as their dominance was challenged and eventually overthrown, pagans showed little evidence of fearful dissimulation.
IGNORING THE Supremazia
There exists a tertium quid between destruction and preservation. Some sarcophagi were reused per a manner that concealed the iconography without eradicating it. This peculiar practice has been studied as an aspect of medieval attitudes towards Roman antiquities. Footnote 21 It may also be relevant puro the puzzle of the missing fourth-century pagan sarcophagi, because the known examples suggest that posterity was not entirely impartial durante its treatment of Christian and non-Christian iconography.
Fig. 7. (a) Sarcophagus of Urban VI, antique face. Saint Peter’s, Vatican City. Photo: M. Falcioni, with kind permission of the Casa di San Pietro in Papale. (b) Sarcophagus of Urban VI, medieval face. Saint Peter’s, Vatican City. Photo: Conway Library, The Courtauld Institute of Art, London (A, by James Austin).
The recarving examples do not provide extensive information concerning later attitudes towards Christian and pagan sarcophagus imagery. Both sorts were reworked onesto repair damage and alter portraits, and neither underwent extensive lapidary surgery onesto remodel or replace the iconography. Yet, it is significant that the erasure of imagery seems puro have been limited preciso, or at least concentrated within, the pagan group, while any new assertion of per religious denomination was, of course, always Christian.