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Last Updated: Wednesday, 7 February 2007, 15:34 GMT
Roman secrets uncovered in graves
The 2,000 year old stone coffin found at the site
Experts are waiting to discover the contents of the stone coffin
Archaeologists in York have uncovered more secrets of the city's Roman past in a vast cemetery being excavated outside the ancient walls.

The biggest find on The Mount is a large stone sarcophagus though to hold the skeleton of a wealthy resident.

Experts are also discovering that then, as now, the more money you had the better your burial ceremony.

Some bones from the site have revealed the other end of Roman life - a woman stabbed in the throat and murdered.

The teams of archaeologists have also uncovered the foundations of a wall which they believe would have formed part of a Roman mausoleum.

Dig expert Steve Timms said: "There were various rights for people who came to visit this (burial) area. Perhaps they would have had picnics or feasts at some of the shrines or gardens.

She was stabbed seven times in the throat from the front
Osteo-archaeologist Malin Holst

"Different religions may have had other rights as well, there is evidence in the Roman world that people would come back (to the site) to remember their ancestors and celebrate their lives, having feasts and meals."

In an effort to preserve the contents of the stone sarcophagus, army experts were called in to use a minute camera to probe inside the coffin to ensure that nothing would be damaged by moving it.

Osteo-archaeologist Malin Holst, an expert in bone identification, said she hoped to find a skeleton laid out exactly as it would have been left two thousand years ago.

The experts believe the body would have been that of a person of high status, buried in a stone coffin made of quarried stone weighing a tonne and a half.

Ms Holst said the woman who had apparently been murdered suffered a grim end: "She was stabbed seven times in the throat from the front. The attack severed her vertebrae into several pieces. "






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