Lenos (vat-shaped) sarcophagus

Imperial Period
A.D. 260–270

Catalogue Raisonné

Sculpture in Stone (MFA), no. 244A; Sculpture in Stone and Bronze (MFA), p. 113 (additional published references).


Overall: 77.5 x 208cm (30 1/2 x 81 7/8in.) Case (Rolling steel pedestal with wooden skirts): 77.5 x 228.6 x 78.1 cm (30 1/2 x 90 x 30 3/4 in.)

Accession Number


Medium or Technique

Marble, from Mt. Pentelikon near Athens

On View

Roman Art Gallery (Gallery 213)


The Ancient World


Coffins and sarcophagi

The exercises of trainers with goads and unharnessed African lions are shown in the theatric undercutting, flattening, and distortions of the Late Antique sculpture, in which the death throes of the quadruped victims are made to seem like part of a forceful yet distorted ballet. The trainers wear mantles over their tunic and carry goads or spears. The technique of leaving sections of marble between the animals’ fur, known as “bridging” is a special sign of classical carving on the threshhold of the Late Antique world.

The front, the curved ends, and the start of the fallaway toward the bottom are preserved, in pieces. Otherwise, there are dents in the egg-and-dart molding of the rim, abrasions in the strigilar carving radiating from the tiny amphora in the upper center, and slight damage to animals (horn of the gazelle) and trainers (noses).

Scientific Analysis:
Harvard Lab No. HI741: Isotope ratios - delta13C +3.01 / delta18O -6.79, Attribution - Pentelikon, Justification - Fine grained marble.


By about 1969: with Jeannette Brun, Dufourstrasse 119, Zurich 8008, Switzerland (purchased by Jeannette Brun from M. Frey, Geneva, who in turn had purchased it from an English collection about 40 years previously; presumably from Italy); purchased by MFA from Jeannette Brun, September 10, 1975

Credit Line

Arthur Tracy Cabot Fund