The first comprehensive look at early funeral couches in the ancient Mediterranean world is the subject of a book by Elizabeth P. Baughan, associate professor of classics and archaeology at the University of Richmond.

“Couched in Death, Klinai and Identity in Anatolia and Beyond,” published by the University of Wisconsin Press, describes the sixth- and fifth-century BCE “klinai” or funeral couches of Asia Minor. The couches were inspired by specialty luxury furnishings developed in Archaic Greece for reclining at elite symposia.

Baughan writes that in the communities of Anatolia, Lydia and Phrygia (in what is now Turkey), the couches gained prominence as burial receptacles. They were often made from marble, limestone and sometimes cast in bronze.

“The rich archaeological findings of funerary klinai throughout Asia Minor raise intriguing questions about the social and symbolic meanings of this burial furniture,” said Baughan. “For instance, why did Anatolian elites want to bury their dead on replicas of Greek furniture?”

Baughan contends that funeral couch burials and banqueter representations in funerary art helped construct hybridized Anatolian-Persian identities, and she reassesses the origins of the custom of the reclining banquet itself, a defining feature of ancient Mediterranean civilizations. Her study also includes a comprehensive survey of evidence for ancient burial couches in general, based on analysis of more than 300 klinai representations on Greek vases and in archaeological and textural sources.

Baughan recently received a Fulbright Scholar grant and funding from the American Research Institute in Turkey (ARIT) to support her research. She holds a B.A. from the University of Virginia and M.A. and Ph.D. degrees from the University of California, Berkeley. She has taught at Richmond since 2007 and often takes Richmond students to Turkey for first-hand excavation experience.

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Related Campus Units

Classical Studies Department

Associate Professor of Classics and Archaeology; Affiliated Faculty, Art & Art History
Archaic Greek Art and Poetry
Anatolian Archaeology
Achaemenid Art
Funerary Monuments and Traditions