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Late Roman/Early Christian graves discovered in Romanian city of Constanta


Several graves dating from the 3rd-6th centuries, some of them Christian, have been discovered in the centre of Constanta, in an area where a necropolis existed in the ancient city of Tomis, according to local media sources.


Late Roman/Early Christian graves discovered in Romanian city of Constanta
Credit: MINAC

The discovery was made last week by a team of workers working on the foundation of a house, and representatives of the Museum of National History and Archaeology of Constanta were called in.




The rescue excavations, coordinated by archaeologists Octavian Mitroi and Constantin from the Sova Muzeul de Istorie Națională și Arheologie Constanța, have brought to light 12 graves.


Late Roman/Early Christian graves discovered in Romanian city of Constanta
Credit: MINAC

"The burials are in an area of the necropolis, an area known thanks to research carried out especially many years ago, when there was more construction in the city. They belong to the Tomis fortress, which at the time was one of the largest on the Black Sea coast, indeed the leading fortress of a group of six fortresses on the sea shore, from Histria to Varna", says the director of the Museum of National History and Archaeology of Constanta, Gabriel Custurea.


Most burials are from the 4th-6th century, when the spread of Christianity began, and one is even earlier, from the 2nd-3rd century.


Late Roman/Early Christian graves discovered in Romanian city of Constanta
Credit: MINAC

"Some of the tombs are Christian, others are not. It was that period of transition and no very precise burial rite had yet been established. Some of them were burials in niches, so the grave was dug vertically and then niches were made, covered with Roman tiles," says Gabriel Custurea, who adds that very few funerary objects have been found in these sites.




The area in which this necropolis exists is very extensive, reaching as far as the seashore, in the Zorile area, where more than 20 years ago the tomb with hypogeum was discovered, a former family vault, built in ancient Tomis and dated to the late 3rd and early 4th centuries.


Late Roman/Early Christian graves discovered in Romanian city of Constanta
Credit: MINAC

"This necropolis was, at the time, located near the walls of the citadel. The Tomis Fortress, however, had several stages of expansion, and ancient necropolises have also been found in the area of Ovidiu Square, where tombs dating from the 3rd-2nd century BC have been discovered, when the fortress extended only as far as Ovidiu Square. Over time, from the year 300 onwards, the fortress had expanded by almost a kilometre, to the area we now have delimited by Ferdinand Boulevard. In the area there were also rural settlements, villages adjacent to Tomis, a few kilometers from the fortress, and between them, obviously, there were such necropolises", says the director of the Museum of History in Constanta.


The remains, among which are those of several children, will be taken to the National Museum of History and Archaeology in Constanta for analysis, and the workers will then be able to resume construction work on the foundations of the house.


Source: Sova Muzeul de Istorie Națională și Arheologie Constanța [trsl. TANN; May 17, 2021]



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