Inside the casket was the remains of a body laid to rest in a prone position, and another body was laid at the feet of the first.
A 2,000-year-old Roman stone coffin containing the remains of two people has been discovered in Sydney Gardens in Bath, UK, shedding light on ancient funeral practices.
The coffin, or sarcophagus, was unearthed during ongoing excavations at the site as part of restoration work.
The coffin, said archeologist Kelly Madigan, is a “rare glimpse” into the funeral practices that were common 2,000 years ago.
The coffin was made from Bath limestone and was found in a grave approximately two meters long, 60 centimeters wide, and 50 centimeters deep. The north-facing angle of the coffin suggests that it was a Pagan burial, according to experts.
Inside the casket was the remains of a body laid to rest in a prone position, on its chest, and another body was laid at the feet of the first.
Also found alongside the coffin were small red and blue beads, and a pot, possibly used to offer food as part of the Pagan burial ritual.
“Having a human skeleton directly associated with a coffin is a rarity and to have this one associated with a probable votive offering and nearby human cremation, allows a very rare glimpse into funerary practices in the region almost two millennia ago,” said Magidan.
Sydney Gardens in Bath is a former 18th century pleasure garden currently undergoing building conservation and landscape work which previously led to the discovery of a Roman wall.
A license obtained by the excavation team from the UK Justice Ministry will allow the archaeologists to handle and manage the human remains, and will require that the bodies be reburied within a legally certified burial ground by 2026.
While further tests and analyses are being done, however, the remains will be kept in an undisclosed safe and private location.
“I’m beyond excited to find out the results of the assessment which is currently ongoing in our labs and hope that it in turn lends itself to an interesting analysis phase where we can delve deeper into just who the people we found in the coffin were, where they were from and their health and welfare,” said Madigan.
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