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Religion and Death

Feasts were the principal way of honoring the dead, first at the time of burial and afterwards at intervals set by local custom. The feasts were initially conducted by the graveside, but in later times took place in a nearby house of a relative. The importance of food is borne out by discoveries of animal bones, eggs, shells and nuts, along with eating and drinking implements in and around tombs. Wine and water jars were set outside the grave to slake the thirst of the dead and mark the final rites at the closing of the grave.

Northwest Asia Minor Marble Grave Stele
1st century BC
Inscribed "Farewell, worthy Hippodorus, Son of Menander." The upper register depicts the dead Hippodorus on a tall kline. He holds a squat jar and an egg or piece of fruit. His spouse sits to the left. The table, with its fruits, vegetables and partially overturned juglet, rests on three goat-leg supports ending in cloven hooves. In the corner a small-scale girl turns away in an attitude of mourning, while a serving boy stands nonchalantly off to the right. The lower panel depicts a horseman and a woman facing out beneath an arched doorway.
H. 61.0; W. 34.5; Th. 5.4 cm. UM neg. S8-73376. (116k)

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