Charlemagne grave a mystery

2010-05-19 07:00

Aachen - Archaeologists looking for the grave of medieval Emperor Charlemagne on Tuesday ruled out the popular theory that he was buried in the atrium of Aachen cathedral.

A team of archaeologists spent three years looking for evidence that the emperor - considered by many to be the first true European - was buried there after his death in the year 814.

"Since the 1980s, the theory persisted that the grave is in the atrium," Aachen archaeologist Andreas Schaub said.

However, the oldest items found during the latest dig date back to the 13th century - 400 years after Charlemagne's death.

The location of Charlemagne's grave has occupied experts for hundreds of years. After the failure of this latest attempt, it is expected to become increasingly difficult to find the grave.

"It is certain that Charlemagne was buried in Aachen, and certain that it was in the area of the church," said Schaub, echoing an opinion held by generations of experts.

Charlemagne, who commandeered a huge medieval empire from his base in Aachen, died on the morning of January 28 814. He was hurriedly buried later the same day.

Some 250 years later Emperor Friedrich Barbarossa located the grave and removed Charlemagne's bones, which are now kept in a shrine in the cathedral.

  • Joe - 2010-05-19 07:42

    " is expected to become increasingly difficult to find the grave." I work with people who argue like this every day and one day I'll throw them off the tenth floor balcony. From the very beginning Charlemagne could have been buried anywhere, irrespective of whether researchers would even think of looking there, or not. In fact, the search should become easier because they have one place less to look. Either that or there is a critical mass of uncertainty where, once you've looked at a few likely places and failed, the location could virtually be anywhere and therefore impossible to find, except if someone stumble upon it. The likelihood of the grave being found is therefore higher the more time and resources spent looking for it and it will become more likely as you eliminate more sites, but the likelihood is still so remotely small that it makes no difference either why, even if you've removed a few options.

  • Peter M - 2010-05-19 08:38

    specially since Barbarossa removed the skeleton which is now in a shrine in the cathedral. How do you find an empty grave, and one which (as they say) was dug and filled in rapidly, the very day of his death? Most likely nothing to find at all, in that case. Even stonework deteriorates, even over two centuries. This is over a millenium, in a damp region, where sites have been trampled over, made over, for centuries. What do they expect to find, I wonder?

  • LuLuBug - 2010-05-19 09:14

    Why, exactly, do they want to find "nothing"?

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