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Classis soldier tombstone discovered close to Ravenna
September 21th, 2005

CLASSE (Italy) - The tombstone of a young roman sailor perfectly dressed as a roman soldier, with armour, sword and sandals; the right hand holds a supposed javelin (pilum) and on the left one holds the paludamentum. This is the portray of the "classiarius" sculpted on the tombstones found few days ago exploring the Classe's necropolis.
It is a perfectly preserved sculpture like a photo of a sailor from the fleet that was catching pirates in the Adriatic Sea. An exceptional discovery because this is the first image discovered about the appearance of a fleet (classis) soldier of Ravenna.

All the other tombstones revealed in this port city, in fact, portray people dressed with togas.
The tombstone is datable to the 1st century AD, and it is a large marble monolith more than one metre height. On the top a small hole was made to host the defunct's ashes.

The discovery has been made during the current excavation campaign conducted by the Soprintendenza per i Beni Archeologici dell'Emilia-Romagna and the Association RavennAntica with the aid also of the local Archeological Group (Gruppo Ravennate Archeologico).
The front side provides many information: the incomplete inscription, in addition to the image of the soldier, reports the soldier's name "MON(?)US (?) CAPITO" and his career status of an Optio, that was in service on a liburna, a small ship used for recognitions and to fight pirates, called AURATA (golden). The monument was commissioned by Cocneus, probably one of his collegues.
The tombstone is very rare due to the extremely detailed portray that, even if relatively small, shows the true face of the defunct with his bowl haircut and the typical child appearance a common detail in the Julio-Claudian period. The soldier wears a muscle cuirass with pteruges on the shoulders and fringed striped military skirt. Also a gladius is visible and the caligae are shown over the feet. A curiosity is the long trasversal belt that is supposed not to hold a weapon, probably a militar decoration.
Excavations are exploring a new sector of the necropolis included in the Minghetti area, where a large tunnel of the imperial age. The tunnel is completely filled of water and requested the work of a scuba team followed by the archeologist from the outside 3 metres over their heads.
The structure is composed by some original manholes for inspection and maintenance, and it while using one of those manholes the tombstone was revealed. The stone was taken from the burial ground and used to prop up a part of the tunnel that had collapsed.
This tombstones will be on display in the Classe archeological museum.

Click to enlarge pictures

Click to enlarge picture

For more information please click here (in italian).

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