Without any doubt I can say that the biggest event in my family history is related to the
Roman Empire. My great grandfather Andreas Wierts and his sons made on 11
december 1930 the discovery of his life. He was building a new house for his family in the village of Simpelveld. During the digging for its foundations he struck something solid. There it was a
roman sarcophagus. It had happened twice before that they found a coffin. But this one
was different. The sculptures were not on the outside of the coffin but on the inside. It
turned out that this was and still is unique for the lands north of the Alps.
On one side of the chest you can see the a roman lady lying on a sofa. This is probably
the lady of which the remains were found in the sarcophagus. Also on this side you can
see the lady's villa, complete with doors, shutters in front of the windows and roof tiles.
On the other side you can see a low table with 3 bottles on it, a table with 3 legs
decorated with lion heads., buckets and jugs on shelves. Next to that some kind of a
wardrobe is sculptured. On the short side there is a roman chair and a chest.
At seeing this artistic masterpiece, off which the experts thought that it never could be
found at such a distant from the eternal city Rome, my family members must have been
startled. But there was more. Not only the remains of the roman lady were found in the
sarcophagus, but also some valuables. Not all tough, the coffin was plundered, probably
already during the migration of the nations. Except for the little glass bottles, a golden
pin, a necklace made of beads and an earring 3 rings were found. The most beautiful in
my opinion is the twelve angular one. In finely chiseled letters it reads "IVNONI MEAE" (to
my Juno). Probably a gift of her husband.
It was no wonder that a lot of people were interested in this remarkable treasure. Many
wanted to see the sarcophagus. Signs directing to the place were the coffin was found
were placed in the village. Even a movie was made of my great grandfather. I can certainly
say that he is the only family member that appeared on the white screen. Also musea
were interested. Due to the economical crisis the provincial museum was not able to buy
the artifact. The director of the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden (RMO) in Leiden had received
information on this special finding. He asked the Rembrandt Association, with approval
of the government, for a loan. He bought the artifact for 8500 guilders. That was a lot of
money in those times. In that way the roman lady paid for the new home my great
grandfather was building.