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San Antonio, Texas

Roman Urn Collection at SAMA

Amazingly detailed marble cinerary urns that once held the cremains of Roman elite. 

In a museum packed with artistic treasures, it’s easy to overlook some of the spectacular finds. But being able to snag a glimpse of these intricately detailed, millennia-old artifacts isn’t a chance you’d want to pass up.

A beautifully handcrafted collection of marble cinerary urns rests in the San Antonio Museum of Art, or SAMA. Designed and used between the first century B.C. and the third century A.D., these urns were used to hold the cremains of the Roman elite, or at least those who could afford a proper burial.

Urns were typically commissioned, filled with ash remains, then placed directly inside the tombs. Entire families could be easily and conveniently buried together this way. This collection of urns is assembled at the back left corner of the Greek and Roman Hall of SAMA.

An interesting note about the building itself, the SAMA building was once a brewery that was saved, renovated, and converted into a modern metropolitan museum. It’s an intriguing and successful use of a beautiful structure, indeed.