Roman estates in Hackney
This marble coffin was found in 1867 in Lower Clapton. Its lid was missing and there was decayed human bone inside. The coffin shows that Hackney may have been a wealthy settlement during the Roman period.
Who was buried in it?
A portrait of a woman decorates the coffin or sarcophagus. It is inscribed underneath: G[AIUS] ETRUS[C]US ATI[AE] CARISSIMA[E S]UAE MERITIS EIUS ['Gaius Etruscus (set this up) to his dearest Atia for her merits']. When the coffin was found, experts could not read much of the damaged inscription. They believed it was for a man called Maritimius (a misreading of MERITIS EIUS). The inscription has now been translated. It reveals that the person buried was a woman, Atia.
Sign of wealth
The coffin dates from between ad 200 and 400. It was intended for display in a large tomb. Atia's relative Gaius Etruscus was probably a rich man - marble coffins were expensive and had to be imported from the continent. Two other stone coffins have been found in Hackney. They seem to show that rich Roman landowners lived here and were buried on their estates.
Museum number 3381