Archaeologists hope to date Trnava rotunda

ARCHAEOLOGISTS in Trnava are continuing for a second summer to uncover the remnants of the oldest known stone religious building.

ARCHAEOLOGISTS in Trnava are continuing for a second summer to uncover the remnants of the oldest known stone religious building.

Near the Gothic St. Nicolas Cathedral, the archaeologists plan to finish researching the rotunda, a Romanesque structure that was destroyed in around 1360 .

Only 19 such buildings are known in Slovakia, which makes the Trnava research significant. After the archaeologists are finished, the town council will decide how to make the site accessible to the public.

The excavations are being made by students from the Classical Archaeology Department of the Faculty of Philosophy of Trnava University, along with their professors.

“It is important that we manage to confirm its date of construction,” archaeologist Erik Hrnčiarik told the TASR newswire, adding that they would be thrilled to find an artefact that would tell them when the rotunda was built.

“Either a grave or any item that would set the earliest limit; we know when it ceased to exist, but we don’t know when it was built – it was surely used for one hundred to two hundred years,” he said.
Hrnčiarik also thinks it is crucial to find out to whom the rotunda was dedicated. Experts tend to think it was St. Michael due to the fact that later the Church of St. Michael was built in close proximity.

The church has not existed for 200 years. Experts think that the altar and other items could have been moved from the older church to St. Michael’s Cathedral.

Based on the results of the archaeological research, the best way in which to present the site to the public will be chosen.

Hrnčiarik said the construction could be covered with glass with lights underground or it could also be covered with soil and the ground plan could be depicted on the surface with stones.

This latter possibility is more considerate and is better for its preservation, as it will prevent further disintegration, he said.

The town hall’s spokesman, Pavol Tomašovič, said it was unlikely that the presentation will be finished this year. “We are happy to have been able to finance the continuation of excavations. We will have to wait for a better time financially to complete it,” he told TASR.

During their 2008 research, the archaeologists found a part of the rotunda and 148 graves dating back to the time when Trnava received its privileges as the first free royal town on the territory of Slovakia, in 1238.

Many of the graves were of children and some of the deceased had been buried during a plague epidemic.

Excavations have also found remnants of another Romanesque church, younger than the rotunda.

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