Sarcophagus

Originally located in the interior, to the right of the main entrance, Doheny Memorial Library. Above the sarcophagus is a dedication plaque that reads:

"Edward L. Doheny Jr. Born November 6, 1893. Entered the University of Southern California in 1912 and received the degree of Bachelor of Arts in 1916. Served in the World War with the rank of Lieutenant in the Navy from April 6, 1917 to January 24, 1919. President of the General Alumni Association from 1923 to 1925. Member of the Board of Trustees from 1919 to 1929. Died February 16, 1929."

 

The sarcophagus was moved to the  left of the main entrance in January 2020.

 

Information about the sarcophagus, from a typed note located in University Archives:

"Child's sarcophagus

1st or 2nd century A.D.

Parian marble.

Gift: October 1937.

Chapin (749 Columbia Ave., L. A.).

Location: Doheny Library, Main Entrance Lobby. Note: Lid, feet, and urn of later date. Attribution: Dr. Lopatin, Spring, 1938.

Dr. Lopatin considered this to be a 1st or 2nd century ad Roman sarcophagus because the "Battle Between Barbarians and Romans" was a very common subject (motif) of the date. He considered it to be a sarcophagus of East Roman (provincial Roman, i.e. Greek or Syrian) origin because the warriors' helmets are more Greek in appearance than Roman. Because of its small size, Dr. Lopatin postulated the sarcophagus to be for a child. Dr. Lopatin's ideas were derived partly from the subject itself, ("Battle Between Barbarians and Romans.)" And his ideas were partly derived from the type of bridles portrayed on the sarcophagus; these bridles show the European influence of barbarian invasions. Dr. Lopatin postulates that the province of origin of this sarcophagus was one under Roman control. The sarcophagus did not originate in Rome, itself, because the Romans were not burying in sarcophagi. Dr. Lopatin thought the pedestal of the sarcophagus to be of Assyrian origin, probably. Dr. Lopatin considered the barbarians of the sarcophagus's relief sculpture to be those figures which were bearded and carrying round shields. And the unbearded figures carrying oval shields he identified as Romans.

 

I, Mary K. Raves, did a great deal of reading on the subject of Roman sarcophagi in 1966, and, at this time, I wrote the following paragraph about the Doheny Library battle sarcophagus.

 

In the Doheny Library at the University of Southern California just inside the main doorway there is a small Roman marble sarcophagus. Its small size indicates that it was for a child. On the front face we see the Battle of the Greeks and the Amazons, a subject that occurs frequently on Roman sarcophagi. The way in which the hair and beards of the fighting Greeks is depicted suggests to me a date for the sarcophagus during the reign of the Emperor Hadrian (117-138 AD) The sarcophagus is free from the heavy shadows and more confused and crowded compositions we find characteristic of battle sarcophagi of the later 2nd century AD and the 3rd century AD. The name "Chapin" is carved on the sarcophagus. That is the name of the person who donated the sarcophagus to USC in 1937."

 

 

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