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Corpse Wine: Dionysiac Imagery and the Fermentation of the Dead in Roman Sarcophagi.  Archaeological Institute of America in partnership with Dayton Society Chapter

Mont Allen, Associate Professor, Classics and Art History, Southern Illinois University


Archaeological Institute of America lecture, Dayton Society chapter, hosted by the Richard and Carole Cocks Art Museum, Miami University, Oxford. 

Archaeological Institute of America

This public event, open to all, is made possible thanks to the Max Arthur Cohn and Sarah Waldstein Cohn Memorial Lecture fund of the Archaeological Institute of America, and the Membership Association of the Richard and Carole Cocks Art Museum. 


Abstract: Why are roughly one-ninth of all surviving Roman sarcophagi shaped not like rectangular boxes with squared-off ends, but instead like lenoi:  those large tubs or vats with rounded ends in which Greeks and Romans pressed grapes and fermented the juice to make wine, an association underscored by the Dionysiac imagery that often appears on the sides of these sarcophagi?  What purpose did it serve within the funerary context?  This talk presents art historical, archaeological, and taphonomic evidence to explore why so many Romans imagined their dearly departed within a wine vat.

Bio summary: Mont Allen completed degrees in Geography, Religious Studies, and Modern European History, before finally earning his Ph.D. in Ancient Art History from U.C. Berkeley in 2014. He is currently Associate Professor of Classics and Art History at Southern Illinois University, where he teaches courses in Greek Mythology and various aspects of

Greco-Roman Art and Archaeology. His own research focuses on ancient funerary art, particularly on Roman sarcophagi. His book on the topic, The Death of Myth on Roman Sarcophagi, was published by Cambridge University Press in 2023.




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  • Mr. Andrew H. Sawyer

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