The painted tombstones of Demetrias
The painted marble tombstones of Demetrias date from the early third to the early first century BCE; they had been reused as building material in the fortification towers of the city in the early first century BCE (figs 1-2).
Over 1,000 specimens survive, of which 250 preserve their painted decoration (fig. 3-5). They constitute important primary evidence for the evolution of painting as an art form, and bridge the gap between late Classical and Late Republican Pompeiian painting.
The inscribed epitaphs inform us about the multi-ethnic origin of the inhabitants of Demetrias, and their names, and religious and eschatological beliefs. The painted scenes address worldly concerns, opening a window into everyday life in the city. Men, women, children, are depicted in their ‘Sunday best’, in various circumstances, locations (outdoors, bedroom, dining room) and roles (military, civilian, educated man, child; mother, sister, wife), social positions and occupations (servants, officers, priests).