‘Jewelry is important, even in the afterlife?’ I bet you wonder what a funny (to say the least) statement is that? Is it an important statement? A statement to write a blog post about? Yes, it is!
Let us start with some assumptions. Some truths.
Jewelry is a part of your emotions. It is a way of life. Do you wear jewelry or not? Maybe you want to dress up? Do you use jewelry to look more beautiful? Or show your status? Are you married and wear a wedding ring. Or are you rich and wear a lot of gold and diamonds?
Look at your jewelry and we know who you are. Whether you are rich or poor (look at the used material). Modern or more traditional? Whether you love minimalistic or statement jewelry. Maybe you wear personalized jewelry. In that case, we know how many children you have. Or their names, or the name of your husband.
You can ‘read’ a woman by looking at her jewelry. And when you want to stay known after your death, make sure that there is jewelry in your grave. An archeologist can determine what kind of person you were.
Last week I visit a world-famous museum in Leiden/The Netherlands, called the Oudheidkundig Museum. You find there all kinds of archeological artifacts from all times.
One of the artifacts that impressed me most is the ‘ash grave’ of the Lady of Simpelveld. And the jewelry that archeologist find in that grave. I realize that her jewelry tells the world so much about her, even after so many years.
The history of the ash grave.
In December 1930 a man from Simpelveld (a village in the South of the Netherlands) works in his field. During the digging he finds a large solid stone, that looks like a big box or coffin. The outside is plain and rather ugly.
He asks a professional to look at his find. And he discovers that this is an ash grave and there is jewelry in it. The biggest surprise comes when they open this grave. The inside is decorated with reliefs, that represent a complete interior of a house. With chairs, cabinets, a birth stool, bottles and much more.
On the floor are ashes from the lady, jewelry, and a mirror. And the biggest surprise is that on one of the sides of the grave the ‘lady of the house’ is sculptured. She lays on a ‘dinner bed’. By now the archeologists determine that she is a Roman or Gallo-Roman lady.
We don’t know her name, but she died aged 24-40 years around 170 AC.
Gemstone rings and golden ring from sarcophagus Lady of Simpelveld (photo FlorenceEijck)
Her jewelry speaks for her.
She is or rather was a rich lady. Who else can afford a grave like this? Besides that, this is the only grave (until now) found with reliefs inside the coffin.
The grave contains a golden necklace, a golden earring, three golden rings (two rings with gemstones and one with an inscription). There is a beaded necklace, a silver mirror, scissors, writing material and 2 bottles of glass and china.
We know by researching the artifacts that not only she is a rich lady. But she has great taste because the jewelry is exquisite. Made of high-quality material (gold and gemstones) and great workmanship.
And when you realize that there are holes in the ash grave. So there was more jewelry in this coffin. Then you are as impressed as I am about this find.
Beaded and golden necklace from sarcophagus Lady of Simpelveld (photo FlorenceEijck)
Her coffin leads the way.
Her ash grave is not the first grave that the worker finds in his field. There are 2 more, but they are empty. The archeologists assume that her house is not far away from where she is buried.
Seven years later they find the remnants of a large Roman villa a few hundred meters from the coffin. One of the many that are found in the surrounds of Simpelveld, where the Romans lived a long time ago.
And due to the reliefs in the coffin of the Lady of Simpelveld, we know how the furniture of such a villa looks like. They are made of wood and wood does not last such a long time. So her coffin does not only tells something about her. But also about her house, her style of living and her status.
Golden earring and belt buckle from sarcophagus Lady of Simpelveld (photo FlorenceEijck)
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