My Family History

The Sarcophagus of Simpelveld

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.

Dutchmen in the Civil War

The Eighty Years War