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Sarcophagus with Dionysos and Ariadne

Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek


This Roman sarcophagus bears vestiges of antique colour. Many traces of red are found mostly on baskets and trees, but also on the skin:/objects/138/attachments/658 of Ariadne, the female figure at the centre of the scene. A few traces of blue are found, especially on grapes. The blue colour has been identified as Egyptian blue by means of Visible Induced Luminescence (VIL) imaging.

Description of object

Excellent state of preservation; only top of thyrsos at far right is missing. No restorations.

Choice of methods

Visual examination

  • Macroscopic
  • Microscopic in situ

Technical imaging

  • VIL

Visual examination

Red is mostly seen as scattered particles, though in some places more is preserved as in the incisions of the baskets, on the trees and on the baskets filled with grapes on top of the head of the bearded Dionysos framing the scene on the coffin. A few traces of red are also visible on the hand of the female figure in the centre of the scene (Ariadne). Blue appears on grapes on several of the figurs as well as on the wings of cupids. The mapping shows where traces of colour are found.

Technical imaging

VIL: The VIL-imaging reveals the extensive use of Egyptian blue shining bright white on grapes in the hair of several of the figures as well as on the wings of the cupids.

UV-FL: Imaging does not show fluorescent phenomena related to organic lakes or resins.


J.S. Østergaard (1996), Catalogue. Imperial Rome. Ny Carlsberg Glyptotek, Copenhagen, 96-99. cat. no. 42.

  • IN 843
  • Sarcophagus
  • 2nd century C.E.
  • Roman Imperial
  • Marble
  • Acquired in 1883 from Casali.
  • H. 68 cm.; L. 222 cm.; W. 83 cm.; lid relief: H. 31 cm.

Selected photos

  • In843_t_0
  • In843_t_90
  • In843_t_270
  • In843_d_0_basket
  • In843_d_315_grapes
  • In843_vil_t_0_1
  • In843_map_t_0
  • In843_map_t_90
  • In843_pointer_t_0_skind
  • Fig__3__in843_r_d_hud
  • In843_mi_hand
  • In843_mi_blue_grapes_x52