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Experts have finally shed a light on the origins of an ancient and mysterious golden relic which has baffled archaeologists for more than a century.

The small, flat golden plate was unearthed at a grave site with a female skeleton and coin beneath York railway station in 1872.

After nearly 150 years, archaeologists have confirmed it is a Roman mouth plaque dating back to the third century AD...

Mystery of an ancient gold 'grill' is solved after 150 years: Rare plate found in York was a Roman mouth plaque used to 'protect a rich and powerful woman from evil spirits' after she died 1,800 years ago


The Roman artefact was unearthed at a grave site with a female skeleton in 1872

Scientists say it was a golden plaque placed over the mouth of the woman

It is the only example of its kind in Britain and one of 23 discovered worldwide


By Harry Pettit For Mailonline
24 October 2018

Experts have finally shed a light on the origins of an ancient and mysterious golden relic which has baffled archaeologists for more than a century.

The small, flat golden plate was unearthed at a grave site with a female skeleton and coin beneath York railway station in 1872.

After nearly 150 years, archaeologists have confirmed it is a Roman mouth plaque dating back to the third century AD.

The plaque would be used to cover the mouth of a dead body a practice typically reserved for a person of high status, experts said.

The 1,800-year-old artefact is the only example of its kind in Britain and is one of 23 discovered worldwide.


A golden plate that has baffled scientists for 150 years has been identified as a golden mouth plaque used by the Romans to protect their dead from evil spirits. Pictured is Yorkshire Museum curator Adam Parker with the third century artefact


A team at the Yorkshire Museum worked with experts from around the globe to identify the object's origins.

But mystery still surrounds how and why it was used.

Ancient Romans may have believed the plate was a magical or medicinal amulet that protected the person in death, or a sinister talisman used to silence or restrain them.

Yorkshire Museum assistant curator of archaeology Adam Parker said he is planning to carry out more tests on the skeleton to shed more light on the mouth plaque itself.

This could include fresh DNA testing and chemical analysis to establish where the woman was from.

Mr Parker said most other mouth plaques were found in the far eastern parts of the former Roman Empire in Syria, Turkey and Crimea apart from one found in France.


The 1,800-year-old artefact is the only example of its kind in Britain and is one of just 23 discovered worldwide

He added: 'The hope is if the skeleton could be proved to have an eastern link, where the other examples of the practice are, that would show a level of mobility of this unusual practice from one end of the empire to the other.'

The woman is believed to have been between 18 and 30 when she died.

Along with the mouth plaque she was buried with a fake silver coin dated between 202 to 210 AD.

The coin, which was made of copper with a silver wash over the top, had the face of Septimius Severus on one side and Fortuna, the goddess of luck, on the other.

Severus was Roman Emperor from 193 AD until his death in York in 211 AD, but it is not clear whether the woman was buried during this period or later.


The small, flat golden plate was unearthed at a grave site with a female skeleton and coin beneath York railway station in 1872

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencet...150-years.html