The Afterlife of Roman Sculpture # 2: Treasure Hunters

Touring the museums of Turkey, the number of Roman sarcophagi on view cannot help but amaze. Of couse the great demand for them from collectors have led to widespread plundering, but even many of those in Turkish museums have been in the hands of treasure hunters. This is clear from the many sarcophagi with large holes in them, like this one in Konya:

A sarcophagus in the Konya Archaeological Museum. Photo: TMK, August 2003.

These holes were used for plundering the contents of sarcophagi, and are common sights in Turkish museums. The phenomenon can be compared to the practice in the Near East of digging holes around Roman milestones, since according to tradition they mark the location of a treasure!

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