The Papyrus Tomb, Mangalia, Romania
500BC-400AD-Ancient times Europe Romania

The Papyrus Tomb – a unique 2 300 years-old tomb in Romania

on
March 8, 2021

This post is also available in: Română

TypeAncient tomb
Construction
Period
4th Century BC
Age2300 years-old
Visiting Hours
Callatis Archeological Museum
The tomb’s initial location can’t be visited. The tomb was reconstructed inside Callatis Archeological Museum in Mangalia.
Summer:
Monday – Sunday: 8.30 – 19.30
Winter:
Monday – Friday: 8.30 – 16.30
Ticket PricesAdults: 1 Euro
Photo fee: 2 Euro
Video Tax: 4 Euro
Other tourist
attractions
in the area
The incineration tombs (the necropolis of the Callatis citadel, dating back to the 4th-2nd centuries BC)
The ruins of the Callatis citadel (6th century BC)
The Turkish Esmahan Sultan Mosque (16th century)
LocationCallatis Museum, Mangalia, Constanta, Romania, Europe

The Papyrus Tomb

2 300 years ago a large tomb was erected at Kallatis for a ruler of the region or even for a king.

The tomb dating to the Hellenistic era (4th century BC) was discovered in 1959 and is also known as the Papyrus Tomb. The original location of the tomb was near the stadium (behind the museum). Here were discovered four Greek vessels: a kantharos, two small plates, and a pater (a vessel used for libations).

Now The Papyrus Tomb has been moved and rebuilt in the Callatis Museum in Mangalia where it can be visited.

The tomb was surrounded by a stone ring, which can be seen even now, and the vault of the room tries to restore the initial appearance of the funerary mound that protects the tomb. On the lid of the tomb, made of three large slabs of limestone, were found the remains of eggs shells and a fragmentary crown of bronze laurel leaves and gilded ceramic beads, fastened to a bone frame, imitating the laurel wreath of antiquity.

Inside The Papyrus Tomb was discovered a male skeleton that had around the skull fragments of a laurel wreath similar to the one on the lid and numerous grains of wheat. Egg and wheat are associated with Dionysian rituals, the god Dionysus being considered a symbol of resurrection.

An Ancient Greek Papyrus in Romania

The remains of a Papyrus written in Greek were discovered over the right hand of the skeleton. The dimensions of the fragmentary document rolled in the form of a Volume were 30 cm * 15 cm. A few disparate letters could be read, written in brown ink. It is possible that the papyrus contained information of a literary or religious nature.

This is the only ancient papyrus discovered in Romania being written in the Greek language.

When the tomb has been opened the papyrus instantly darkened on contact with air. The Romanians called a team of experts from Moscow.

Mikhail Alexandrovsky, the most prolific Soviet researcher of the time, tried to preserve the paper before extracting it from the tomb but the effort was futile. The document was “broken” into 154 pieces.

In 2009, the former director of the Callatis Museum and a team of Romanian specialists managed to recover from the Russian capital the 154 pieces from the old document. The papyrus was never exposed.

At this time, it is one of the oldest papyrus in Europe that was discovered and written in ancient Greek (the Derveni⁠ Papyrus in Greece dates from the same period)

Callatis – a Greek colony build in the 6th century BC

Callatis was one of the important Greek colonies in the western Black Sea two and a half millennia ago. In the 13th century, Callatis came to be known as Pangalia. The Vlachs called it Tomisovara and the Greeks called it Panglicara. From the 16th century, the town had acquired its present name, Mangalia.

Callatis Archaeological Museum

The Callatis Archaeological Museum also houses historical vestiges of the ancient fortress of Callatis. In the park behind the museum building, there are also numerous architectural fragments but also a cremation altar.

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