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An archaeological mystery in a half-ton lead coffin

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posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 09:30 AM
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In the ruins of a city that was once Rome's neighbor, archaeologists last summer found a 1,000-pound lead coffin. Who or what is inside is still a mystery, said Nicola Terrenato, the University of Michigan professor of classical studies who leads the project—the largest American dig in Italy in the past 50 years.
The sarcophagus will soon be transported to the American Academy in Rome, where engineers will use heating techniques and tiny cameras in an effort to gain insights about the contents without breaking the coffin itself.

"We're very excited about this find," Terrenato said. "Romans as a rule were not buried in coffins to begin with and when they did use coffins, they were mostly wooden. There are only a handful of other examples from Italy of lead coffins from this age—the second, third or fourth century A.D. We know of virtually no others in this region."

This one is especially unusual because of its size.
"It's a sheet of lead folded onto itself an inch thick," he said. "A thousand pounds of metal is an enormous amount of wealth in this era. To waste so much of it in a burial is pretty unusual."

Was the deceased a soldier? A gladiator? A bishop? All are possibilities, some more remote than others, Terrenato said. Researchers will do their best to examine the bones and any "grave goods" or Christian symbols inside the container in an effort to make a determination.

"It's hard to predict what's inside, because it's the only example of its kind in the area," Terrenato said. "I'm trying to keep my hopes within reason."


www.ns.umich.edu...

Very curious...What will they find inside?
Although the article speculates that a body may be inside,it may be a treasure stash or even a collection of secret documents IMO.

The article describes how that amount of lead would have been worth a small fortune back then,adding to the mystery of what could be inside.

There have been other lead coffins found from the Roman era,one in the UK,but they are rare it seems.

www.jstor.org...

Heres another one found in Lebbanon(Roman era),which is in the British museum:


The coffin and its lid are made of moulded sheets of lead soldered together. The sides of the coffin are decorated with bands of bead and reel motifs and vine tendrils. Below the decorated bands are columns and between these are hanging garlands and images of Psyche.
The lid has moulded criss-cross decoration over most of the body, with a figure of Psyche over the area of the head. In Greek and Roman mythology Psyche was the personification of the soul and is represented on the lid and on the sides of this coffin with the wings of a butterfly, reflecting the way in which the soul was supposed to fly from the body at the end of life. The coffin would probably originally have been placed inside a sarcophagus, usually of marble, which in turn would have been put in a tomb or vault. Inhumation became the most common form of burial from the second century AD, largely replacing cremation. This change may have been linked to social and religious changes; lead coffins may have been used for their supposed preservative effects on the body.
Lead was not mined on any scale in the Roman Near East, so the lead for the coffin was probably imported from Spain, Sardinia or less probably from Britain, where there was extensive mining in the Mendips and Derbyshire.


www.britishmuseum.org...

I can't wait to see what they find inside this latest lead coffin-Hopefully National Geographic or someone like that will make a film revealing what they find.

(Unless of course it a mummified alien)




posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 09:51 AM
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my vote is towards alien and i raise you that the vatican already knows about it and may have a hand in letting it be unearthed.
and if its not my second guess is Zeuses paperweight



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 10:14 AM
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Very interesting indeed.There are documented cases of high status Roman burials in Britain using lead coffins.

news.bbc.co.uk...

But one ton is something else!



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 10:17 AM
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Of course we all hope it's some form of Alien inside which the Romans thought of as a god.

Well i can hope cant i



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 10:23 AM
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reply to post by Silcone Synapse
 


As many on here/ATS know I deal with lots of lead...
That said...1000lbs of lead, would need to be very very thin and it would be very tough to cover the entirer thing with enough lead..to conceal or keep anything hidden inside....

For example..1 ton of lead "I buy in bulk" with minor alloys in it...is very small.....you could put a small dag or such in it....but a human....no.

But yes I saw that they used laminated sheets....must be very very thin....
I want to know whats inside...not like its titanium, you could cut it open with a pocket knife.
TY OP...got my interest...



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 10:42 AM
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Somebody important - that they REALLY did not want to get back out.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 10:48 AM
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reply to post by Doc Holiday
 


Yeah,I wondered why they didn't consider attempting to cut through the lead using a blade measured to the exact thickness of the lead-Surely if they did this,and removed 1 section at a time,they would be able to remove the lead without damaging whatever is inside?

I just hope it isn't someone who had some horrid disease,like the way we sealed some bodies of thouse who died during the 1918 flu...Never heard of the Romans doing that though thankfully.

I am really hoping its a treasure or document stash though!

Thatnks for the replies folks.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 11:15 AM
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reply to post by Silcone Synapse
 


Well, they might not want to damage the coffin itself. Such a thing is an amazing find on its own, regardless of what's inside.

Maybe it's copies of those Sapphire tablets some people keep talking about, or our predecessors...

Or something which should not be released. Think Lovecraft here...



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 11:22 AM
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reply to post by Solasis
 


Hmmm,I guess you are right there,not thought of that one.
I suppose thats why they want to try the MRI/camera thing first.

Lucky I didn't find it and rip it open, eh?




posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 11:25 AM
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I suspect that it may be a large chunk of Kryptonite that was encased in lead and sent back in time by Superman, working with Leonardo DaVinci.

That's my working theory.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 11:30 AM
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reply to post by Silcone Synapse
 


MRI....thats a problem in itself...lead and MRI = 0 results
either it will remain a mystery, or they will need to open it...its rather simple.....unless, some of our new "hidden" tech that sees through walls could penatrate this, I see no other options, but to open it...



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 11:36 AM
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I recall the opening chapter to a book published in the early 1930's called "The March of Archaeology" discussing a coffin of this exact type being discovered in this exact location in the middle ages.

Now I am incredibly curious, incredibly curious indeed.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 12:55 PM
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Originally posted by Doc Holiday
reply to post by Silcone Synapse
 


MRI....thats a problem in itself...lead and MRI = 0 results
either it will remain a mystery, or they will need to open it...its rather simple.....unless, some of our new "hidden" tech that sees through walls could penatrate this, I see no other options, but to open it...


Hehe,I wondered about that as well-I thought metals and MRI scanners don't mix too well.
I doubt the hospital would be too impressed if they borked their expensive MRI scanner.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 01:25 PM
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My first thought when reading this was Al Capone's Vault. Perhaps it is empty....... someone call Geraldo!

Wasn't lead used back then because they thought it preserved things better or longer? I read somewhere that the romans used lead boxes to store food for this reason.

Aren't refrigerators made out of aluminum? Maybe its an old fridge.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 01:45 PM
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If they do open it, I hope they do it carefully.
A well sealed metal coffin can do wonders for preserving what's inside.
Opening it, while revealing the contents, could also destroy or damage whatever it may contain, unless it's done very carefully.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 02:03 PM
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Originally posted by RuneSpider
If they do open it, I hope they do it carefully.
A well sealed metal coffin can do wonders for preserving what's inside.
Opening it, while revealing the contents, could also destroy or damage whatever it may contain, unless it's done very carefully.


I would not want to be near it if it is opened anthrax spores can last a very long time.



posted on Mar, 30 2010 @ 02:10 PM
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My hope is that buried along with the deceased in his lead lined sheath would be lots and lots and lots and lots of ancient texts in near pristine condition (well, we live in hope..) that would fill in some gaps in our literary history from the early middle ages...so many priceless copies of ancient literary works have been lost over time....

The sooner they get that thing photographed from the inside the better - however if rare ancient books etc. were found, I supose there would be pressure from some groups 'not to publish for 50 years', but that is food for another meal on ATS !!!



posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 09:45 AM
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reply to post by Sigismundus
 


Me too,but this article sadly suggests that there is indeed a body or part of one inside:


"All we can say so far about the contents is that the lead wrapping contains a human skeleton — or at least a portion thereof — as there is visible bone at the open, foot-end of the sarcophagus," McMaster University archeologist Jeffrey Becker, managing director of the U.S.-led dig at Gabii, told Canwest News Service.

"Once we assess the contents, we will make a plan of how to study them, but we are interested in studying any human remains inside."

Gabii is located due east of Rome, along the ancient road once known as the Via Gabina, in the central Italian region that was called Latium around the time of Christ. The historian Plutarch named Gabii as the birthplace of Romulus and Remus, the mythic twin founders of Rome.


www.vancouversun.com...

Although maybe there will be other stuff in there as well,as I think this is not the regular type burial of the day-maybe a nobleman,with some trinkets?



posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 09:56 AM
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A: Lead is not magnetic so no, the MRI machine wouldn't be damaged.
B: The article mentioned that the sheet of lead was 1" thck so it is not a "thin" sheet.
C: Lead is used to block radiation...did they know something we don't about who/what is inside?
D: they do not need to "cut" the "thin" lead with a knife, they will heat up a small spot to soften it enough to push a small camera through without leaving a gaping hole.
E: It looks like one end of the "coffin" is open, why not stick the camera in through there?
D: How do they know it is even a coffin? Could it be a prison for a radioactvie critter?
"Stick it in the lead box and bury it so no man will ever be exposed to this vile creature again!"



posted on Mar, 31 2010 @ 10:25 AM
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They will open it and find human remains, junk, coins, swords, etc

if they are not human remains and something else, i.e. a skeleton they dont recognise, or technology, etc, then they will tell you its human remains

you will never know the truth

my bet is its nothing to get excited about




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