Tag Archives: Plowing

The “Farmer’s Sarcophagus” An Alternative Interpretation

In a earlier post I presented what I called a “Farmer’s Sarcophaus” that is located in the courtyard of the Antalya (Turkey) Archaeological Museum. (see end of this post for a new possible interpretation).

“Farmer’s Sarcophagus”?  Is it possible that this is an élite person who had the honor, using oxen, to plow the outline of the pomerium for an about-to-be estabished city?

At the time I wrote:

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.  . . .  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??

But in my readings about two months ago, I came across the concept of the pomerium.  What in the world is that?  Well . . .

The pomerium is the name given to the sacred boundary of an ancient Roman city founded with the help of omens.  It consisted of a wall and/or the sacred strip of land between the wall and the city’s outermost building: when a Roman colony was founded a simple ploughed forrow would encircle it n order to define the pomeriium.  Withing the enclosed pricincts, burials were forbidden. (conveniently Blue Guide, p. 88).

Evidently the walls of the city were established on the outer limit of the pomerium and no structures (theoretically) could be built on the pomerium.  In Rome the pomerium defined the limits of the city and there were prohibitions for armed troops to enter the city beyond this “barrior.”

My Musings: Given that sarcophagi were for the elite of society, it now seems more logical to me that what we have on this sarcophagus is an image of an elite “owner” who proudly was the person who was entrusted, with the oxen, to plow the pomerium for an about-to-be established city.

See Here for several reliefs of the plowing of the pomerium.

Alta Macadam, Blue Guide: Rome. Eleventh edition.  London, 2016.

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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