The J. Paul Getty Museum

Tomb Altar for Caltilius and Caltilia

Object Details


Tomb Altar for Caltilius and Caltilia






Roman Empire (Place Created)


A.D. 100–125



Object Number:



128 × 80 × 63.5 cm (50 3/8 × 31 1/2 × 25 in.)

Credit Line:

Gift of Achille Moretti

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Object Description

Portraits of a husband and wife decorate the front of this Roman funerary altar. The inscription reads, "To the souls of the deceased, Lucius Caltilius Stephanus and Caltilia Moschis." Although badly damaged, the portrait of Lucius depicts his distinctive, short hairstyle and his hollow cheeks and sagging flesh to show his age. These stylistic characteristics date this altar to the Trajanic period, from A.D. 100 to 125. The woman's dramatic curled hairstyle also derives from that favored by the women in Trajan's royal court.

Roman funerary altars were an especially popular means of commemorating the dead in the early 100s A.D. This altar is typical of the funerary monuments commissioned by freed slaves, which were often located in front of the family tomb, advertising the new social status of the deceased to passersby. Several funerary reliefs found at Ostia also bear the Caltilii family name; one of these reliefs has an almost identical portrait of Caltilia. These Ostian reliefs and the Getty Museum's altar may have originally belonged to one tomb.

- 1983

Achille Moretti (Zurich, Switzerland), donated to the J. Paul Getty Museum, 1983.


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