(ORDO NEWS) — Spanish archaeologists, while carrying out restoration work in the royal palace of the Almohad era, discovered a mysterious lead sarcophagus, in which a little girl was buried in the Middle Ages.
According to The History Blog, the find was made in Seville, southern Spain. Archaeologists carried out restoration work under the royal chapel of the Gothic palace in the Alcazar.
This palace was built by King Alfonso X of Castile, and it was literally erected on the ruins of an earlier palace of the era of the Almohad dynasty, who ruled the region. Their palace was destroyed during the Christian conquest of Seville.
Previously, no burials were found in this monumental structure. Therefore, the find was a real surprise for archaeologists and gave rise to an insoluble mystery.
The grave was discovered during the restoration of 16th century ceramic tiles. In just 20 centimeters under the floor of the main altar of the royal chapel, archaeologists found a lead sarcophagus about 116 centimeters long, about 40 centimeters wide at the head and about 30 centimeters at the legs.
Inside there was a wooden coffin, badly damaged by time, in which the child’s body rested. Scientists have established that it was a girl with blond hair. At the time of her death, she was about five years old.
The very fact that she was buried in the royal palace indicates her high social status. The artifacts found also speak of this. For example, pieces of fabric and leather that have survived indicate that the girl was luxuriously dressed. Even the buttons were mother-of-pearl.
By the way, next to the sarcophagus there were six boxes with a certain earthy substance, which has not yet been identified. So far, there is no evidence that would help reveal the identity of the child. Scientists did not find any seals, symbols or other marks either in the lead sarcophagus or on the surviving remains of a wooden coffin.
The age of the burial will be accurately determined using radiocarbon dating. Previously, experts assessed it by the style of the sarcophagus. In their opinion, the burial can be dated to the XIII-XIV centuries AD.
There is another secret in this case. Archaeologist Miguel angel Tabales, who is leading the study, stated that the altar of the chapel could not have been the original burial place of this little girl, even if she belonged to a very influential family.
The most reliable theory is that the sarcophagus was placed on the side of the altar during the last restoration, which was carried out in the chapel in the 1930s and 1940s.
“We did not find any documents to support this,” says Miguel Angel Tabales. “However, the lead sarcophagus was surrounded by a stone ‘box’ that was made of recycled materials and bricks held together with cement. These materials tell us that it is made of stone.” the coffin “was built in the first half of the 20th century.”
According to the expert, the workers who carried out the repairs in the chapel probably found the sarcophagus elsewhere. They opened it and, seeing the remains of a little girl, they decided to reburial her with all the decency. As a result, they moved the sarcophagus to the altar.
Guided by this theory, now both archaeologists and palace officials are looking for the possible original location of the burial. It is possible that somewhere in the palace there is an ancient secret crypt, from which the coffin with the girl’s body was transferred to the altar.
According to anthropologist Juan Manuel Guyo, the preserved hair will allow DNA extraction and analysis. The data obtained will help to establish the place of birth and residence of the girl, the cause of her death. Also, scientists intend to learn about the funeral rite that was carried out.
“If we, for example, find the remains of oils, we will find out if she was an important person, as well as if she was embalmed – this was a ritual prohibited by the Catholic Church, but which the rich practiced in their pursuit of eternal life,” says Juan Manuel Guyo.
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