Streams of living water: the strigil motif on late antique sarcophagi reused in medieval southern France Public Deposited

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  • March 22, 2019
  • Fischer, Elizabeth L.
    • Affiliation: College of Arts and Sciences, Department of Art and Art History
  • In this thesis, I argue that medieval viewers understood the strigil motif as a fountain of living water, a sign of rebirth in both Biblical verses and medieval legends. Despite the medieval prevalence of this pattern (a repeated S shape) on reused late antique and newly carved sarcophagi, no in-depth study of the motif exists. In arguing for a richer analysis, I examine strigilated sarcophagi used in the province of Gallia Narbonensis (southern France) from the ninth through thirteenth centuries, drawing on Biblical texts and exegesis, contemporaneous history and hagiographies, and baptismal and funerary rites in my interpretation. When the strigil motif was applied to medieval tombs, it indicated the Christian triumph over death. This was especially true for the sarcophagi of saints, as my thesis shows, since saints' ability to intercede with God on behalf of devotees was trumpeted by the strigils' affirmation of their continuing vigor.
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  • In Copyright
  • "... in partial fulfillment of the requirements for the degree of Master of Arts in the Department of Art and Art History."
  • Verkerk, Dorothy
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  • Chapel Hill, NC
  • Open access

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