How can burial furnishings help to clarify the meanings of banqueting imagery in funerary art and the place of banqueting in funerary ideologies? Should tombs furnished with klinai or replicas of banquet couches be understood as representations of banqueting, meant to equip the dead for an eternal ‘Totenmahl’? Or do funeral couches mark their occupants as members of the elite class that enjoyed banqueting and/or luxury furniture while alive? These questions are not so easily answered, because klinai in the ancient Greek world were multifunctional furnishings, used for sleeping and resting as well as for dining and revelry, and because burial assemblages are constructed representations, much like tomb paintings or reliefs. This paper presents a brief history of burial klinai in the Mediterranean world and proposes parameters for interpreting funerary klinai as symbolic banquet couches, with discussion of archaeological and cultural contexts as well as ethnographic parallels. Consideration of burial furniture complements the study of the banquet motif in contemporary funerary images and underlines the importance of the ‘funerary banquet’ concept – however defined – in certain eras and regions.

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Copyright © Peeters Publishers. This book chapter first appeared in Dining and Death: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on the 'Funerary Banquet' in Ancient Art, Burial and Belief.

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