The Tomb of Eurysaces the Baker is located just outside the ancient Porta Maggiore entrance gate to Rome. The monument is dedicated to a former slave and his wife. It is decorated with reliefs depicting the various stages of the bread baking process.
Tomb of Eurysaces the Baker Rome
Address: Piazzale Labicano – Rome. The tomb can be seen from outside 24/7.
History and description
The Baker’s Tomb was erected by a wealthy baker called Marcus Virgilius Eurysaces. He had the monument constructed in the shape of a large oven. It is decorated with reliefs showing several aspects of the baking process.
Eurysaces lived in the 1st century BC. He was a former slave, who had saved up money in order to start his own bakery. There is no definite proof that he actually was a freedman, but his name indicates that he was probably from the Greek-speaking eastern part of the empire. This makes it very likely that he must have been a slave.
Since cemeteries were forbidden inside the city walls, he had the tomb built just outside the gate. This was common practice amongst the wealthier part of Roman society. Since it was placed right at the point where two main roads, the Via Prenestina and the Via Labicana, came together, the baker must have been extremely wealthy. (Note that this is not the present Via Labicana, a street which is located in another part of the city.)
In the 4th century, the tomb was used as a base for a fortified tower. Only 15 centuries later, it was visible again, after Pope Gregory XVI had had the tower destroyed.
Eurysaces built the tomb for himself and for his wife Atistia. When the tower was destroyed, a marble portrait of the couple was found. This is awaiting restoration and is supposed to go on display in the Centrale Montemartini at some point.
The brick outside of the tomb is covered with travertine marble. The inside is filled with concrete. Vertical travertine cylinders are column-like attached to the lower part of the monument. Round openings in the top part seem to have been made in order to insert similar cylinders into.
Part of an inscription on three sides explains Eurysaces wealth. It says he was a baker and a contractor, which means that he supplied bread to the army.
Another inscription, “Atistia was my wife. She lived as an excellent woman, whose surviving remains are in this bread basket”, was also saved. This can be seen in the Baths of Diocletian seat of the Museo Nazionale Romano. The basket itself is kept in storage in the same museum.
The most interesting part of the monument is the frieze. The reliefs show asses turning millstones, workers putting bread into the oven and the weighing of the loaves.