A Roman sarcophagus in excellent condition was discovered during a preventive excavation in Elne, near Perpignan.

Elne where the sarcophagus was found

A major discovery

It was on the site of a vast necropolis from the end of the Roman period, known since the 1960s, that this major discovery for Catalan archeology was made at Elne, near Perpignan. A Roman sarcophagus from the 5th or 6th century was unearthed during sanitation work. Its state of preservation is exceptional. The stone tank, still sealed, was discovered by researchers from the Pyrénées-Orientales Archaeological Service, during a long-term preventive excavation. Since March 2021, the operation has followed the urban layout of a construction site aimed at replacing the water supply and sanitation network in the lower town of Elne. However, these pipes hid a necropolis from the end of Antiquity, dated according to archaeologists from the 4th to the 7th centuries.

A Roman cemetary

Very partially studied in the 1960s, during previous work, the funerary site was active in a chronological range stretching from the end of the Roman era to the middle of the Merovingian era, a turbulent period during which the region successively passed in the hands of the Romans, the Visigoths, the Arabs and then the Franks. In the heart of this district of Elne, the archaeological remains are numerous and well known. This sarcophagus belongs to a necropolis dating from the 5th or 6th century . A Roman cemetery rediscovered during new sanitation works. Many other remains were revealed during this work, such as masonry vaults, saddleback burials and children’s tombs in amphora. But the jewel, never discovered to date, is this buried sarcophagus, this coffin intended to receive the remains of a Roman personality after a great funeral ceremony.

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