The Farmer Sarcophagus — How Could a Farmer Afford This?

In the magnificent museum in Antalya Turkey there are many beautiful artifacts from sites such as Perge, Aspendos, Side, and others.  Among them are many beautiful sarcophagi such as the following:

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Sarcophagus from Perga in the Antalya Archaeological Museum — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

Note the husband and wife on the lid of the sarcophagus and especially the erotic figures carefully carved on its side!  Many of the sarcophagi are intricately carved like this one!  While waiting to board our bus, I noticed a very plain sarcophagus near the parking lot.

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Note the farmer plowing with two oxen — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

I have seen a lot of sarcophagi in our travels but never one with this theme on it!  Note the farmer plowing with two oxen and two roundels with (evidently) a husband and wife in each of them.  Note especially the detail of the plow and the “ox goad” (1 Sam 13:21; Eccl 12:11; Acts 26:14) in the hand of the plower!  It is almost refreshing to see such a mundane and common activity represented on a sarcophagus—but it is surprising, for how did a FARMER afford having a stone sarcophagus made??

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Palestinian farmer plowing his vineyard — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

This Palestinian farmer is plowing his vineyard with a plow very similar to the one on the sarcophagus above!  This farmer is plowing in January to prevent weeds from growing.  Also note the vines lying just above the ground.

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A student learning how to plow at Neot Kedummim in Israel — Click on Image to Enlarge and/or Download

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5 responses to “The Farmer Sarcophagus — How Could a Farmer Afford This?

  1. Thanks for the nice pictures. We didn’t have a lot of time to see everything outside when we visited the museum in Antalya. I didn’t see the one with the farmer and oxen. I will have to look for it when I visit again some day. This museum is fascinating, I definitely recommend visiting it.

  2. Great photo of the sarcophagus! I saw its interesting depiction recently when I was at the museum myself.

  3. Sarcophagus from Perga
    Can somebody explain the male image appearing on the left side of the Sarcophagus, just after the 2 women? It is a clean shaven male figure and not compatible with with male images of the era. Is it a ghost personified in a scupture?

    • I do not have a direct answer to your question, but . . . . In January 2017 I had a chance to ask the archaeologist on duty at the Antalya Museum about this sarcophagus. It was found, all by itself(!), in a field to the west of Antalya—not in a necropolis near a city, as is usually the case. He said the interpretative article about it would appear in a Turkish journal this year. It will be interesting to read their comments.

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