Sarcophagus containing two bejeweled skeletons found in the ancient Roman City of Viminacium

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Archaeologists working at the site of Viminacium, an ancient Roman city located in present-day Serbia, have discovered a well-preserved sarcophagus containing a variety of treasures, including a silver mirror, glass perfume bottles and gold jewelry. The rectangular sarcophagus, as per reports, houses the skeletal remains of two upper-class Romans.

According to Ilija Mikic, an anthropologist overseeing the excavation, the skeletons belonged to a tall, middle-aged man and a slim younger woman. The latter was found adorned with golden earrings, a necklace as well as several ornate hairpins.

Additionally, researchers uncovered a silver mirror and three delicate glass perfume bottles around the female inside the sarcophagus. A silver belt buckle, along with the remnants of shoes, were discovered on and around the male skeleton, the archaeologists stated. Speaking about the discovery, Mikic said –

According to grave goods, we can conclude that these two people surely belonged to a higher social class.

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An Overview Of Viminacium And Its Historical Significance

Situated close to the modern-day town of Kostolac, approximately 70 kilometers (40 miles) east of Serbia’s capital Belgrade, Viminacium was a military camp as well as the capital the Roman province of Moesia Superior. In fact, it was considered to be one of the most important Roman cities between the first century and the fourth century AD.

The ancient Roman city itself dates back to the 1st century AD. At its peak, Viminacium is believed to have been home to over 40,000 inhabitants, which in turn made it one of the biggest cities of the time. In terms of its strategic importance, Viminacium was tasked with the protection of the northern border of the Roman Empire and also played a role in communications and commercial transactions.

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A model of Viminacium

In addition to its strategic location, the presence of roads and waterways helped Viminacium emerge as an important trading and business center over the coming centuries. With its subsequent expansion to the left bank of Mlava, the ancient Roman city became one of the key meeting points of the cultures of East and West.

As a military camp, around 6,000 soldiers were stationed at Viminacium, while another 30,000-40,000 lived nearby. In the 5th century AD, the city suffered massive destruction at the hands of the Huns but was later rebuilt by Roman emperor Justinian during his reign from circa 527 AD to 565 AD. Soon afterward, however, it was massacred by the Slavs in the 6th century.  

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Interestingly, the site of Viminacium has been continuously studied by archaeologists since 1882. Today, it is spread across an area of 1,100 acres (450 hectares) and holds the remains of several temples, streets, squares, workshops, forums, amphitheaters, palaces, aqueducts, Roman baths as well as a horse- and chariot-racing stadium called hippodrome.

Unlike most ancient Roman settlements, which are currently buried under modern cities like London, Milan, Budapest or Belgrade, Viminacium remains open. However, only around 3% to 4% of the site has been explored so far. Speaking on the matter, Miomir Korac, director of the site, said –

Only Viminacium with its 450 hectares is an open area for exploration. And I am sure this will bring an immeasurable quantity of information.

Since 1882, archaeologists have stumbled across a number of valuable finds at Viminacium, including sculptures built from jade and marble, pottery, mosaics and frescos, golden tiles with Roman magical symbols as inscriptions, among other things. Another interesting fact about the ancient city is that it houses the largest number of graves found in any Roman archaeological site. As of 2018, over 14,000 tombs have been uncovered at the site.

Source/Image Credits: Reuters