Run Time: 40:10

Sandra Knudsen spoke on "Racing Death: Ancient Roman Children's Sarcophagi and the Circus Maximus." In 2008 the Toledo Museum of Art acquired an intact, child-size Roman sarcophagus representing four winged putti racing chariots in the Circus Maximus. Chariot racing was the passion of ancient Romans, who built racecourses from Britain to Syria. The most famous was the great Circus in Rome, many features of which are carefully represented on this coffin. Chariot races were popular, fast, and dangerous. The driver on the right is the winner and looks back at the unfortunate second driver, whose horses have fallen. The third and fourth chariots continue to run, urged on by their drivers, by the riders on horseback who support them (the outriders), and also by the “pit crew” on foot. On the short sides, the winning charioteer and his outrider flourish palm branches as they take a victory lap. No lid or inscription survives, but this small sarcophagus was made for a child. Was this coffin made for the son or daughter of a family that became wealthy from the racing business? Or was it the final resting place of a little fan, symbolically winning the race of life?

Sandra Knudsen has worked at the Toledo Museum of Art since 1986. She serves as Associate Curator of Ancient Art and as Coordinator of Scholarly Publications. As curator, she is in charge of the collections of ancient Egyptian, Greek, and Roman art and responsibility for the small collection of African art. Her most recent exhibitions have been “In Stabiano: Exploring the Ancient Seaside Villas of the Roman Elite” in Fall 2006 and “The Golden Age of Archaeology: The Toledo Museum of Art and the Excavations at Seleucia-on-the-Tigris” in Spring 2009. As publisher, she has shepherded the on-going series of catalogues about Toledo’s collections of glass and silver, as well as a series of popular books introducing both exhibitions and parts of the collection. The most recent title is Toledo Museum of Art: Masterworks, which published 300 highlights of the collection in Spring 2009. Sandra’s Ph.D. is from the University of California, Santa Barbara. Before coming to Toledo, she worked at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; and The J. Paul Getty Museum.