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Between 2012 and 2013 archaeologists carried out rescue excavations in the historical centre of Braşov (Transylvania, Romania), in the area surrounding St. Mary’s church, better known as Biserica Neagră (the ‘Black Church’) after a devastating fire in the 17th century.

A complex stratigraphy was unearthed in the area surrounding the church known as Honterus' courtyard:

1) A large cemetery, consisting of 1,476 burials and annexed religious structures;

2) The remnants of several architectural structures - the earlier wooden dwellings to the clay and stone masonry buildings;

3) Over 12,000 artefacts, ranging from potsherds to sophisticated personal adornments. ​​​


Chronological landmarks

  • Second half of the 12th century – first decade of the 13th century: Latin and German hospites in Transylvania 

  • 1235: First documentary mention of Braşov as Corona

  • 1370-1477: St. Mary’s church foundation

  • 1388: Cistercian chapel and parish cemetery

  • 14th – 15th century: Braşov is an important economic and political urban centre

  • 1689: The Great Fire destroys most of the city centre, including St. Mary's church - called Biserica Neagră (Black Church) henceforth

May 10 2013 Brasov si Sinaia (13)_edited

Statue of Braşov-born Honterus, Saxon humanist and Protestant reformer (photo credit: Annamaria Diana)


The Braşov medieval cemetery is one of the largest medieval urban cemeteries yet excavated in Transylvania and presents some features typical of medieval Christian cemeteries, whilst some other elements make it a one-of-a-kind site:

•    Intensely occupied, with areas with up to 15 overlapping burials
•    Six strati
graphic layers (on average) and different orientations
•    Little or no grave goods (5% datable);
•    Simple ritual, mostly individual graves
•    Long period of use (AD 1200-1800)
•  Complex and diverse contexts (individual graves, ossuaries, family graves, and burial clusters)

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