A mysterious lead sarcophagus discovered in England
An exceptional discovery was made in England, and precisely in Yorkshire, where a lead tomb of a Roman aristocrat who lived for 1600 years was brought to light. The grave was in a mixed cemetery, in which both Roman and Anglo-Saxon deceased were buried. The period is that of the twilight of the empire and in which Christianity had become the state religion. At that time the Romans no longer used cremation for their deceased, but buried them in coffins. In this period the classes of greater political and economic power resorted to expensive lead coffins, to ensure that the joint was exposed to less degrading agents. In some cases, as will also happen in the Middle Ages, the bodies placed in the lead tombs also underwent particular mummification treatments. This is not the case for the matron in England, even if the characteristics of the tomb show her Roman origin and belonging to the hegemonic class. The excavations were carried out in secret and information is still limited. We will have to wait for a full report from West Yorkshire Joint Services to know the condition of the remains discovered in the sarcophagus. It will be interesting to know if a large ring, also discovered in the excavation, belonged to this woman or represented the grave goods of another deceased. The discovered necropolis, made up of about sixty tombs, is located in a peripheral area of Garforth, a town of 15,000 inhabitants in the county of West Yorkshire. David Hunter, West Yorkshire Joint Services Principal Archaeologist, said: 'This find has the potential to be a discovery of great importance for understanding the development of ancient Britain and Yorkshire. Having two communities using the same burial site is highly unusual and whether or not their use of this cemetery overlaps will determine how significant the find is."
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