History class! Ancient Roman sarcophagus found underneath Cologne school



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A sarcophagus and an array of artefacts dating back to Roman times were found under a Cologne school and are now being held at the city’s Germanic-Roman Museum.

Precious antiquities including amphoras, rings and plates could be seen inside the museum on Wednesday.

The sarcophagus was discovered by construction workers during excavations on the grounds of Cologne’s Kaiserin Augusta School. The classical casket is believed to have been slumbering for around 1,700 years before its discovery.

“Characteristically for the region in Cologne, Roman Cologne, are the following three burial objects. And namely there are three white clay jugs, that in this case, like the rest of the vessels, belong to the first half of the 400 AD. That means the grave is roughly a good 1,700 years old, Prof Dr Alfred Schaefer, scientific advisor at the Roman-Germanic Museum explained.

The sarcophagus showed signs of already have been broken into in ancient times. The find, made in July, was initially kept secret in order to not attract robbers.

*SOUNDBITES*

SOT, Prof Dr Alfred Schaefer, Scientific advisor at Roman-Germanic Museum (German): “Characteristic is that the Roman suburbs, in the later ancient times, around 300 were partially given up. That led to the burials to be held again moving closer to the city walls. And so we have found, inside of the living area, or the edge of the living area, a Roman sarcophagus, that I am going to introduce to you with the burial objects.”

SOT, Prof Dr Alfred Schaefer, Scientific advisor at Roman-Germanic Museum (German): “During the following may I quickly introduce this grave with the Roman sarcophagus. The sarcophagus itself was found in a deep pit. The sarcophagus had already been robbed twice. The second robbing took place at the beginning of the 20th century. That led to the fact that inside the sarcophagus only the human remains were found, but not other burial objects, that had been already taken away.”

SOT, Prof Dr Alfred Schaefer, Scientific advisor at Roman-Germanic Museum (German): “Characteristically for the region in Cologne, Roman Cologne, are the following three burial objects. And namely there are three white clay jugs, that in this case, like the rest of the vessels, belong to the first half of the 400 AD. That means the grave is roughly a good 1,700 years old.”

SOT, Prof Dr Alfred Schaefer, Scientific advisor at Roman-Germanic Museum (German): “A special find, consists of metal fillings for boxes. You have to consider, that among these burial objects belonged a wooden box, which is gone, we only have a few rest of wood left, of which the type will be determined by the next lab analysis. To the bronze or brass fittings of this box belonged a big round lock, in the centre you can see the spot where the small keys were supposed to go. That came also with several rings, those rings belonged possibly to the ornament of the wooden box, so that they were pressed into the box. And here you see four other linings that were found in the front of the box. Finally i want to show you this small buckle, which is also characteristic of the inventory of the 4th century.”

SOT, Prof Dr Alfred Schaefer, Scientific advisor at Roman-Germanic Museum (German): “Scientifically, from the research point of view, I find this finding very interesting, because we gain more insight into the settlement dynamic of the south Roman suburbs. We also have an industrial area, we have a living district; working, living, were closely related in the ancient times. And in the late ancient times, this area was partially abandoned, so that near warehouses that were still functioning, there are single burial places to be found, and that is a very dynamic process that scientifically interests me very much.”

Video ID: 20201209-034

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