A Roman Sarcophagus Discovered by French Archaeologists

A Roman Sarcophagus Recently Came Into the Hands of French Archaeologists Who Excavated in Northeastern France.

Oct 22, 2023By Angela Davic, News, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and Analysis


A Roman Sarcophagus
A glass urn and jug excavated with the sarcophagus. Photo: © Sandrine Thiol, Inrap.


A Roman sarcophagus recently came into the hands of French archaeologists. Group of exported excavated in Northeastern France, more precisely in the Reims city. The city of Reims was once called Durocortorum. It was the capital of one tribe called the Remi. Overall, the tribe availed themselves to the Romans, and as a result, they received an imperial position.


Reims Has Rich Archaeological Sites

A Roman Sarcophagus
An archaeologist conducting a photogrammetry survey of the sarcophagus. Photo: © Émilie Jouhet, Inrap.


All of that happened throughout Julius Caesar’s eight-year occupation of Gaul. When occupation and war came to an end in 51 B.C.E., Ceasar granted imperial status to the Remi tribe. The city quickly expanded after becoming a major intersection for French roadways. It attained an estimated population of more than 50,000 people. Also, it was endowed with all the architectural features of a beautiful Roman city.


This includes a large necropolis, a gathering place, bathhouses, and a boundary line. The city covers around 2.5 square miles. It is also a rich archaeological site, and many archaeologists have their focus on this place since the mid-19th century. A team from France’s National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) just finished an excavation of the necropolis section.


La Porte Mars (the Mars Gate), the triumphal arch of the Gallo-Roman town (Durocortorum); 3rd century; Reims, France. Via Wikipedia


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Their first work began in the 1960s. The archaeologists focused on the 4000-square-foot area of mud. This space has not been used for a long time, because it rests in a former swamp. The Romans constructed enormous canals in the area that channeled streams to the Vesle river. Overall, the Inrap crew discovered 20 tombs’ mortuary relics.


A Roman Sarcophagus Made From Rough Limestone

A Roman Sarcophagus
Saint Remi museum of Reims (Marne, France). Via Wikipedia


An unopened sarcophagus from the second century C.E. was the most striking find. The tribe made the tomb from rough limestone and secured it with thick metal pins. Due to these characteristics, specialists believe that people made from recycled building supplies. Archaeologists also discovered a woman’s remains within, along with her funeral relics.


Four oil lights, two glass bottles, a mirror at her head, a dark-colored ring, and a comb were among them. Soon, archaeologists will have more information about the woman to work with. To begin, deposits taken from the coffin’ interior will disclose the deceased’s treatment. The specialists will next extract DNA from a tooth.


The Cryptoportique
The Cryptoportique constructed at the end of the 1st century. Via Wikipedia


After this, they will run it through a database of genes for the necropolis, which Inrap created and now contains 80 samples. Inrap excavated almost 5,000 burials over the previous 20 years of study and added them to the Musée Saint-Remi. Archaeologists in Reims discovered a massive Roman structure from the second century CE earlier this year, which had two 65-foot-long porticoed galleries.

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By Angela DavicNews, Discoveries, In-depth Reporting, and AnalysisAngela is a journalism student at the Faculty of Political Science in Belgrade and received a scholarship for continued education in Prague. She completed her internship at the daily newspaper DANAS and worked as an executive editor at Talas.