600-year-old papal seals found in German latrine
15 July 2005, GREIFSWALD, GERMANY - In one of the most sensational archaeological discoveries in Germany, four papal seals dating back 600 years have been uncovered from a medieval latrine shaft in the northeastern city of Greifswald, officials said Thursday.
15 July 2005
GREIFSWALD, GERMANY - In one of the most sensational archaeological discoveries in Germany, four papal seals dating back 600 years have been uncovered from a medieval latrine shaft in the northeastern city of Greifswald, officials said Thursday.
The four round seals cast in lead date to the papacy of Pope Bonifatius IX (1389-1404). The 3.5-centimetre seals, each weighing some 50 grams, bear the inscription "BONIFATIUS VIIII" on one side and images of the apostles Peter and Paul on the other.
Regional archaeology office director Hauke Joens said the find - in the shaft of a latrine on the campus of Greifswald University - was "sensational".
He noted that over the years, individual papal seals would occasionally be found in various places. But the Greifswald find was the first in which several papal seals were discovered.
The seals were first discovered last week by archaeologist Joerg Ansorge.
"When I turned up the first one, I was completely calm," Ansorge said. "But then when there was a second, a third and a fourth, my pulse rate shot up very high," the 40-year-old added.
The discovery came amid excavation work for new water pipelines on the university campus. The seals were buried in a wooden latrine shaft about 3 metres deep.
At this point, the archaeologists could only surmise that the four papal seals had perhaps been contained in a bag which was then given up for lost when it inadvertently fell into the latrine.
But another theory was that the seals were thieves' booty.
The excavation work is part of renovation going on to help Greifswald University prepare for its 550th anniversary celebrations in 2006. Officials doubt that the papal seals were in any way connected to the university's official founding in 1456.
Subject: German news