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Unique fifth century well-preserved tombstone lid on show in a Catalan coastal town

Extraordinary 5th century Early Christian tombstone lid on show, in Mataró, a Coastal town some 30 km north of Barcelona. It is a unique archaeological piece in Spain, which was found in one piece, with a cross in relief at the head. It needed to be restored and is now on show, placed in the old baptistery of Mataró’s Santa Maria Basilica. This piece is one of the first examples of the consolidation of Christianity at a local level after the last Roman period. It was found in 1958, was then exhibited in a local museum, but afterwards it ended up in the church’s crypt and deteriorated.

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08 March 2013 07:36 PM

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ACN / Jordi Pujolar / Elise Griset

Mataró (ACN).\u2013 The Basilica of Santa Maria in the coastal town of Mataró, some 30 km north of Barcelona, is exhibiting an archaeological treasure: a tombstone  lid some more than 1,500 years old. This Early Christian tombstone lid is in one piece and with a cross in relief at the head. It is a unique piece in Spain\u2019s archaeological landscape and one of the most well-preserved in southern Europe. This extraordinary historical piece has been restored and is now on show at the church\u2019s old baptistery.


Its discovery dates back to 1958 during archaeological excavations around the church of Santa Maria. This piece is one of the first examples of the consolidation of Christianity at a local level after the last Roman period. The cross on the tombstone lid is decorated with the letters of the Greek alphabet T 'tau' and P 'rho' superimposed which would be a variant of Christ\u2019s monogram.

For years it was exhibited in the lobby of the Museum of Mataró.  In 1975 it was transferred to the Museum and Archive of St. Mary and was then placed in the Chapel crypt.

Over time, the piece deteriorated and so needed to be restored. Since the end of January, the tombstone lid is exhibited in the Basilica of Santa Maria which makes the piece more visible and more accessible to visitors.

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  • Mataró's Early Christian tombstone lid (by J. Pujolar)

  • Mataró's Early Christian tombstone lid (by J. Pujolar)