Visigothic sarcophagus with Christian symbols unearthed in a Roman villa

Spanish archaeologists, during excavations at an ancient Roman villa located near the city of Mula, discovered a sarcophagus of the Visigothic era. Its lid is decorated with geometric patterns and images of ivy leaves, and chrism is carved on the headboard. According to scientists, the tomb dates back to the 6th century AD. The find is reported in a press release from the University of Murcia.

In the 5th century AD, in the conditions of the crisis of the Western Roman Empire, the Visigothic kingdom appeared on its outskirts in Gaul. During the second half of the same century, the Visigoths annexed a significant part of Iberia to their possessions, occupying important strongholds – Merida, Seville and Tarragona, which later played an important role in the face of pressure from the Franks. This state existed until the beginning of the 8th century, when it was finally conquered by the Arabs.

Despite stereotypes about barbarian kingdoms that appeared on the ruins of the Roman Empire, the Visigoths remained the guardians of classical culture and Christian traditions, which began to spread widely as early as the 4th century. They built aqueducts in their cities, adopted Byzantine architectural traditions, rebuilding their capital – the city of Toledo. Some Visigothic scholars have achieved great success, for example, Isidore of Seville – who remained archbishop for more than three decades, actually became the author of an etymological encyclopedia, and also invented a number of punctuation marks – a period, a comma and a colon.

A group of archaeologists from the University of Murcia, led by Professor Rafael Fernández, discovered during excavations on the ruins of an ancient Roman villa, abandoned around the 5th century AD, five kilometers from the city of Mula, a sarcophagus of the Visigothic era. The tomb was two meters long and its lid is decorated with ornate geometric patterns and images of ivy leaves. On the headboard, chrisma is carved, representing the first two Greek letters of the name of Christ. Researchers believe that the sarcophagus dates back to the 6th century AD, that is, the period when the former Roman territories were occupied by the Germanic Visigoth tribes.

Scientists reported that during the Roman period the area was a major agricultural center, specialized in the production and storage of olive oil. However, under the Visigoths, many buildings were either abandoned or repurposed. So, on the former territory of the villa, a small Christian church was organized around the 5th-7th centuries AD, using for this, apparently, the former dining room or living room. At the same time, the central courtyard was converted into a necropolis.

During this season, archaeologists also cleaned up the spring, which probably supplied the villa with water. In addition, work is underway to clear the “zone of tanks”, which were used for the production and storage of some unknown product.

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