The Paleo-Christian Hypogeum Tomb

In the course of some construction works carried out on the north-western cliff during 1988, a tomb since ancient times covered with earth has been discovered. The discovery belongs to the archaeologists Dr. Constantin Chera and Dr. Virgil Lungu. The interior of the entire vault is covered with a painting with floral motifs, trees, birds and animals, applied “al seco” on a layer of fine plaster.

On the northern wall there is a fresco loaded with powerful religious symbolism, which is most likely a celestial dinner which is accentuated by the glasses held in the hands of two of the deceased, probably husband and wife. History doctor Virgil Lungu states that: “Judging by these drawings we can say that we find ourselves at the transition between two time periods: the roman and the romano-byzantine, but also at the end of paganism and the rise of monotheistic religion”.

The mural inside has both pagan and Christian influences, the image of the funeral banquet being used by Christians also. In the paintings from the catacombs discovered in Italy, the funeral banquet is called “agapa” and symbolizes the Eucharist. Pigeon and peacock are animals that often appear in early Christian paintings. It is not certain if the patridge also has a Christian symbolism, this bird also appearing in some murals in Italy.

Concerning the chronology of the entire Tomato hypogeum tomb, archaeologists have identified three phases of burial. The first phase can be placed at the beginning of the 4th century AD, but the number of buried persons cannot be specified exactly. Some of the skeletons were assembled at the entrance to the funeral room, where “waiting” beds made of limestone were found. On these were placed the wooden coffins of the three dead of the second phase of burial. According to the discovered inventory, it seems that the bones of the three date from the second half of the century. IV. The third phase is indicated by the so-called amphora burial of a child. This type of burial indicates the end of the IV century and the beginning of the V century.

The tomb is unique in the ancient Dobrogean landscape. Dromos caves (access tunnels) covered by mounds have been discovered around Mangalia, but from a more distant (Hellenistic) age.

The hypogeum tomb is not visible because of its fragility. However, with the support of the Museum of National History and Archeology from Constanta, one of our future actions of our association will be aimed at visiting this unique monument.

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