Aiberga tombstone

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The Aiberga tombstone is a tombstone from the Merovingian era from Kempten am Rhein . The inscription and design of the stone, which was set in the 6th century for a young Frankish Christian named Aiberga, make it an important testimony to the early medieval Christianity and religious history of the historical region of the Rhineland and the era of the Franconian conquest in the area of ​​the former Roman Rhine provinces.


The stone was discovered in March 1779 in a vineyard on Rochusberg in the corridor "Am Galgen" together with the Christian tombstone of " Paulinus ". Also found were a magnificent Franconian brooch , a metal ball with ashes, silver buckles and three knives. There were also recent grave finds. The tombstone of the noble Aiberga is in the context of other local settlements. Among them is the " Bertichilde tombstone ", evidence of a local Franconian aristocratic clan or social upper class. In addition, the finds of the gravestones of the presbyter "Aetherius" and "Paulinus" testify to an early Christian community with a Germanic-Romanic (ethnic) composition and a settlement continuity since Roman times.

Legation councilor Schmidt von Rossau acquired the stone for Landgrave Friedrich II of Hesse-Kassel . On April 6, 1779, he was brought to the Kunsthaus in Kassel. The stone was damaged in World War II : the lower right corner had to be reattached after it broke off, and black scorch marks are particularly evident on the back of the stone. In 1985 the stone was cleaned and glued at the break points. The tombstone is now part of the collection of antiquities in Wilhelmshöhe Palace in Kassel (Inv. No. Sk 71).

Design and inscription

The surface of the stone shows dark reddish discoloration. A rectangular tufa plate was used for the tombstone , a material that is not well suited for carving an inscription. This is shown by the splintered contours of the letters in the epitaph. With a thickness of 6.5 to 8.4 centimeters - the thickness increases from right to left - the stone slab is 53 centimeters high and 46.5 centimeters wide. The plate could have covered a grave or it could have been embedded in the wall of a burial chamber. It cannot be ruled out that a stone that was originally used elsewhere was recycled for Aiberga's grave inscription.

The five-line inscription on irregular lines begins right at the top . Such pre-torn lines are not uncommon in early Christian inscriptions. The text says:


Translated, this inscription reads:

"In this grave the girl named Aiberga rests in peace. She lived 32 years and five months and ten days"

The text is written continuously, without word separations, and the division of lines is not based on the end of the word or sentence. While the first four lines are filled up to the right margin, only a small part of the fifth line is used. The letters O and Q are shown relatively small, the L is provided with a diagonal hatch . The M has sloping outer and fairly long middle rashes, the A has a broken transverse rash. The B is not only lowercase, it is also italicized . In the third line there is an N, the inner rush of which runs the wrong way around, from bottom left to top right. Towards the end of the inscription, the height and width of the letters increase, as does the ruling here. The surface of the stone is partially splintered along the contours of the letters.

Due to the length of the line, Walburg Boppert suspects that the linguistically correct ablative form "SEPVLCRO" was not used in the damaged first line, but the accusative "SEPVLCHRVM". Both the inserted H, which would not be found in this word in classical Latin, and the change of case occur frequently in grave inscriptions on the Middle Rhine, as well as the missing V or VI after the letter Q in the second and third lines, the vowel change from I to E in REQVIESCET and the form ANNIS instead of the classic ANNOS. The E in the word "PVELLA" was probably added later in the second line. In the fourth line, the stonemason may have mistakenly placed a hatch between the second and third tens X.

Below the inscription and at some distance from it, a large, simplified Christogram, tilted slightly to the right, is carved. Χ and Ρ have a total of only two bars that cross each other at right angles within a circle. In the two lower quarters of this circle a capital Α and a small ω can be found, the upper ends of which touch the crossbar.

While the left side surface of the plate is corrugated, the other side surfaces and also the back have been smoothed. On the top left there is an elongated elevation with a fracture surface.

The dating to the sixth century AD is based on the recurring formulas of late antique and early medieval tombstone texts: "Puella" is a typical term for a woman of marriageable age, the cross, Christogram and the initial formula are typical of the 6th century AD. Grammatical errors, vulgar Latin sound shifts and prescriptions of the kind presented here can often be found in the early Christian inscriptions of the Middle Rhine region. They are evidence of a Romanization of the Franconian population group, to which the late Aiberga may have belonged.


The Germanic name of the Aiberga is a two-part compound from Germ. * Agjō = "pointed, sharp, corner", also synonymous for "sword, sharpness of a weapon", and Germ. * Bergan = "to rescue, protect". The abbreviation with the omission of g ( Agi- (a) -berg-a < Ai-berg-a ) in the first member is a frequent occurrence in the Germanic name treasure, and the fugue vowel - a - also disappears . The second term shows the West Germanic inflection of female personal names - a . The individual members are often nicknamed types of education in the Germanic naming and occur in West Germanic continuum runenepigraphisch in documents Aibirg ( "Scheibenfibel von Oettingen", 6th century) and Agilaþrud ( "bow brooch of Griesheim," the second half of the 6th century) on.

See also


  • Walburg Boppert: The early Christian inscriptions of the Middle Rhine region. Verlag Philipp von Zabern 1971, ISBN 978-3-8053-0235-7 .
  • Walburg Boppert, Marion Mattern:  Roman and early Christian tombstones. In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (RGA). 2nd Edition. Volume 25, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 2003, ISBN 3-11-017733-1 , pp. 127-138.
  • Peter Gercke and Nina Zimmermann-Elseify : Antique sculptures. Collection of Antiquities Museum Landscape Hessen Kassel. Philipp v.Zabern, Mainz 2007, ISBN 978-3-8053-3781-6 , pp. 367-368.
  • Franz X. Kraus: The Christian inscriptions of the Rhineland. JCB Mohr, Freiburg i. B. 1890, no. 59.
  • Knut Schäferdiek, Reinhilds Hartmann, Wolfgang Haubrichs, Hans-Jürgen Diller, Hans Schottmann, Heinrich Beck, Helmut Roth, Torsten Capelle:  Christianity of the time of conversion. In: Reallexikon der Germanischen Altertumskunde (RGA). 2nd Edition. Volume 4, Walter de Gruyter, Berlin / New York 1981, ISBN 3-11-006513-4 , pp. 501-599.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. CIL 13, 7527
  2. Elias Neuhof: News of the antiquities in the area and on the mountain at Hornburg in front of the height. Homburg vd H. 1780, pp. 41–43 note p. ( Google book search )
  3. CIL 13, 11963
  4. CIL 13, 7525
  5. Walburg Boppert, The early Christian inscriptions of the Middle Rhine region , Verlag Philipp von Zabern 1971, ISBN 978-3-8053-0235-7 , p. 104 ff., Quoted in Gercke and Zimmermann-Elseify 2007
  6. Nina Zimmermann-Elseify, Aiberga's tombstone on (identical to the text printed in Antike Skulpturen 2007)
  7. Winfried Dotzauer: History of the Nahe-Hunsrück area from the beginnings to the French Revolution . Franz Steiner Verlag, 2001, ISBN 978-3-515-07878-8 , p. 47.
  8. ^ Hermann Reichert: Lexicon of Old Germanic Names . (LaN I, LaN II). Verlag der ÖAW, Vienna 1987 - 1990, LaN I pp. 13ff., 16f .; LaN II pp. 453, 480.
  9. ^ Robert Nedoma : Personal names in South Germanic runic inscriptions. Studies on old Germanic onomastics I, 1, 1. (= Indo-European library. 3rd row: Investigations ). Universitätsverlag Winter, Heidelberg 2004, ISBN 978-3-8253-1646-4 , No. 1 p. 137 ff., No. 3 p. 148 ff.