Archaeologists closer to solving the mystery of the empty sarcophagus of Rostov

Archaeologists closer to solving the mystery of the empty sarcophagus of Rostov

During excavations in the temples of Rostov the Great scientists of Institute of archaeology Academy of Sciences explored the empty sarcophagus of the XIII century, located in the Dormition Cathedral in Rostov. To date, no information about who designed the sarcophagus, and whether it someone’s ever buried.


New data obtained during the research 2018, hopefully to find answers to these questions. This was reported in received by the editors Indicator.Ru press release.

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Modern Dormition Cathedral, which stands on the Cathedral square of Rostov Veliky, was built in the years 1510-1512. It was preceded by two white stone Cathedral of the XII and XIII century, a wooden Church, which was placed, according to later Chronicles, in the year 992 (although according to archaeological evidence, its construction most likely dates back to the mid XI century). The brick walls of the Cathedral of the XVI century was placed directly behind the bases of the walls of the Cathedral of the XIII century.

The most interesting research object of the expedition was the sarcophagus of the XIII century, which is located at the North wall of the apse of the assumption Cathedral at a depth of about two meters. First tomb found in 1994, archaeologists from the expedition of the State Hermitage. A little later, the restorers found around the sarcophagus brick walls and closed wooden floors.

This sarcophagus is puzzling researchers. The fact that it is empty, and we don’t know for whom it was prepared. No information about the excavation of the remains in the history of the Cathedral in the documented time is unknown, and there are no signs pointing to the fact that the sarcophagus was ever done the dumping.Andrew Leoniewatson of the expedition IA RAS

“The empty tomb in the Church is in any case a mystery, which can lead to all sorts of conspiracy thinking. Expedition 2018 measured and examined the sarcophagus and found that a massive cover of the tomb in length exceeded the size of the stone box and, possibly, replaced the original. In previous studies, this fact went unnoticed”.

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But, as the researchers note, there is no doubt that this plate is a lid of this sarcophagus. Evidence of this is the same and completely unique pattern on the plate and on the sides of the sarcophagus: the concentric circles inscribed in rectangles, the scope of which is formed by lines and triangles. “And ornament, and the tomb belong to the Vladimir-Suzdal tradition. But, as a rule, these patterns were applied to tombstones, — said the doctor of historical Sciences Leonid Belyaev. — Here we see a unique case — a combination of the Vladimir-Suzdal sarcophagus and Vladimir-Suzdal carving on the sarcophagus”. According to the scientist, the image of triple concentric circles date back to the ancient tradition associated with romance and European graves of the saints, which, in turn, originates from pre-Christian traditions of decoration of the sarcophagus three wreaths.

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The discrepancy between the size of the lid and the sarcophagus suggests that the plate was made later. But today scientists do not have data indicating the time of manufacture of the plate.

According to Leonid Belyaev, both versions are possible and require more detailed study, as covers of sarcophagi are sometimes larger. “This is a plate of his time, but it can be later, for example, the end of the XIII—XIV weka. Of course, suspicious that cover more, she really might not be “his”. But to prove this will be difficult because both the lid and the sarcophagus are very similar, the scientist said. — Due to the fact that the sarcophagus was examined in more detail, it was found that the cover is a different size, but this does not mean that it is not from him. In all this we need to investigate further”.