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Museum of London Docklands to showcase rare Roman sarcophagus in first public display

Stone sarcophagus from Harper Road, Southwark. The lid of the coffin was found partly pushed to one side, indicating it might have been disturbed by grave robbers.

New exhibition „Roman Dead“ will explore death and burial in ancient London 2000 years ago

In 2017 a rare Roman stone sarcophagus was excavated from Harper Road in Southwark; a site that archaeological research has shown once had been part of a large Roman cemetery. This remarkable discovery will be on display for the first time in a major new exhibition called „Roman Dead“ until October 28, 2018.

London’s complex Roman burial landscape is an important source of historical knowledge, providing insight into Romans’ religious beliefs and their treatment of the dead. The exhibition will investigate the cemeteries of ancient London, examining the discoveries that were made there and their context within today’s modern cityscape.

Female skeletal remains discovered within the Roman sarcophagus.

Exotic grave goods from across the Roman Empire are just some of over 200 objects on display. Highlighted are an expensive multi-colored glass dish found with cremated remains and a jet pendant in the form of Medusa’s head, thought to protect the dead, perhaps on their journey to the Underworld.

The exhibition will explore themes of cremation, inhumation and ritual as well as some unusual and sometimes disturbing burial practices. Deviant burials will include a number of men’s skulls which show signs of a violent death and were buried in pits by London Wall in the City of London.

Photos: Museum of London

„Roman Dead“, until October 28, 2018, Museum of London Docklands

Discovery of the sarcophagus

Tombstone for a 10-year-old girl.Pipeclay figurine, possibly a toy.Gold fragment.Left: Glass container with lid, discovered in Southwark. Right: Intaglio discovered within Roman sarcophagus.Grave goods from an inhumation with exceptionally fine jet pendant necklace.Grave goods from an inhumation with exceptionally fine Jet pendant necklace probably depicting Medusa’s head.Millefiori glass dish.Face pot used as a cremation urn.

(27.05.2018, USA: 05.27.2018)