The finest sarcophagi that have been found in the necropolis of Sidon (now in the Imperial Museum, Constantinople) are not Phoenician at all, but exquisite specimens of Greek art.
The oldest example of native sarcophagi are copied from Egyptian mummy-cases, painted with colours and ornamented with carvings in low relief; towards and during the Greek period the contours of the body begin to be marked more clearly on the cover.
The buildings are modern, but some scanty remains of rock-hewn wine presses and a few scattered sarcophagi mark the antiquity of the site.
The sarcophagi are of immense size, and the burial must have entailed enormous expense.
The funerary ritual is known from texts in the Theban tombs (XVIIIthXXth Dyn.) and papyri and sarcophagi of later date; older versions are contained in the Pyramid texts and The Book of the Dead.
Next come the various kinds of inhumation graves, the most important of which are rock-hewn chambers, many of which contain well-preserved paintings of various periods; some show close kinship to archaic Greek art, while others are more recent, and one, the Grotta del Tifone (so called from the typhons, or winged genii of death, represented) in which Latin as well as Etruscan inscriptions appear, belongs perhaps to the middle of the 4th century B.C. Fine sarcophagi from these tombs, some showing traces of painting, are preserved in the municipal museum, and also numerous fine Greek vases, bronzes and other objects.
And his parents - massive sarcophagi of red porphyry with canopies above them - and also the royal throne, higher than that of the archbishop: for the king of Sicily, as hereditary legate of the see of Rome, was the higher ecclesiastical officer of the two.
In later Roman work there was a great decadence in the sculpture, so that in the following centuries recourse was had to the red Egyptian porphyry, of which the sarcophagi of Constantia (A.D.
It was here that the superb Greek sarcophagi, which are now in the Imperial Museum at Constantinople, were found, and the sarcophagi of the two Sidonian kings Eshmunazar (Louvre) and Tabnith (Imperial Museum, Constantinople), both of them with important Phoenician inscriptions.
Other noteworthy tombs are those of the Granduca, with a single subterranean chamber carefully constructed in travertine, and containing eight sarcophagi of the same material; of Vigna Grande, very similar to this; of Cone Casuccini (the ancient stone door of which is still in working order), with two chambers, containing paintings representing funeral rites; of Poggio Moro and Valdacqua, in the former of which the paintings are almost destroyed, while the latter is now inaccessible.