Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus

Sarcophagus of Junius Bassus

Date ca. 359 CE

Movement Early Christian

Medium Marble

Dimensions 3’10.5” x 8’

Housed at Museo Storico del Capitolino di San Pietro, Rome


The practice of creating decorative and ornate sarcophagi carried over into the Christian realm, especially as high officials (like Junius Bassus) converted. Depicted in their own separate compartments: the Sacrifice of Isaac, St. Peter Taken Prisoner, Christ Enthroned between Sts. Peter and Paul, Jesus Before Pontius Pilate (two compartments), the Suffering of Job, the Temptation of Adam and Eve, Jesus’ Entry into Jerusalem, Daniel in the Lion’s Den, and St. Paul Led to His Martyrdom. Like other Christian works, the inclusion of both Old and New Testament narratives help to explain the cohesiveness of the story of Salvation as a whole. As with the style of the day, the figure are squat and abstract.