Roman graveyard (almost) found in Copenhagen
There’s surprising news today. Burials of around thirty Romans have been discovered. This would please an archaeologist anywhere, but the oddity is that they’ve been found in a suburb of Copenhagen, Denmark. My first reaction is that the translation is wrong, but the original text reads:
Arkæologer på hemmelig mission
Arkæologerne fra Kroppedal Museum har fundet en gammel romersk gravplads, men afslører ikke stedets geografiske placering, før de er færdige med udgravningerne.
With an online dictionary I get that as roughly:
Archaeologists on a clandestine mission
Archaeologists from Kroppedal Museum have found an ancient Roman graveyard, but will not reveal its location before finishing the excavation.
It’s a shame to lose the pussycat, but the finds seem fascinating.
The finds include necklaces and pottery containing food. According to Rune Iversen, who is directing the dig, this is all about conspicuous consumption. These people were being buried with their jewelry and a feast, so that the living could show they were rich enough not to need the goods. Something which didn’t make the IHT translation, if I understand correctly, is that the bodies were buried with the head at the north and the face turned towards the east. If I got that right, then these would be Pagan burials, because with the advent of Christianity burials are orientated east-west.
That’s interesting because the burials are dated to around AD 300. In AD 313 Constantine announced the toleration of Christianity, which put the burials neatly into the period when Christianity is struggling to make itself dominant in Roman society. You could argue that you wouldn’t expect Romans in Denmark to be Christians, but I didn’t expect Romans in Denmark anyway. From reading the article it also looks like this isn’t the first Roman community to be found in Denmark, so that’s a whole new area of ignorance I’ve discovered.
If you visit the original article and want to see bigger versions of the photos, you’ll need to click on [Større billede]. There’s a nice photo of one of the pots they’ve found at the bottom of the page.