The exhibition The Subterranean City. Bucharest between Sacred and Profane focuses on the reconstitution of medieval Bucharest through the presentation of materials and results from archaeological research undergone by the Bucharest Municipality Museum in the Historic Centre area of the city. These brought to light elements of medieval, modern and contemporary, structures. Important buildings and inns were localised with precision, recorded in historical and cartographic documents, as well as unique medieval structures. On this occasion infrastructure elements were thoroughly documented: portions of streets paved with wood or river boulders, medieval pipelines and sewage systems that shed light on what daily life in Bucharest was back then. The exhibition will make use of images from the archaeological dig sites, graphical reconstructions and cartographic superimpositions to allow visitors to understand their architecture and purpose. The visual support will offer the image of the subterranean city, superimposed by the modern capital, an age buried, but not forgotten.

Among the findings of the archaeological campaigns we mention human skeletons, which, in some sites, represent the only source of information on a specific community. The exhibition will showcase differences in the way people were buried, depending on age, gender and social status. Several skeletons with uncommon features will be selected using the results of anthropological analyses, illustrating aspects of life in a time when life expectancy was at a low point because of military conflicts and rudimentary medical practices. During the medieval period a person could be exposed to numerous infectious agents which caused diseases that left their mark on the victim’s bones (for example syphilis or tuberculosis). Aside from these, there are also traces of afflictions brought upon by diet (such as dental issues: cavities, tooth decay and loss) or the physical activity regimen of the individual (osteoarthritis). Several cases of individuals who died a violent death will also be featured (skeletons that show a signs of trauma using blunt weapons and firearms) or following complications caused by the misapplication of certain treatments.

The exhibited cultural items are part of the Bucharest Municipality Museum’s archaeology collection, featuring daily use objects (dishware used to serve, store and cook), personal use (toiletry, clothing and accessories) and religious items.

We aim to take a journey to the past, exploring the quarters, inns and churches of the 17th and 18th centuries, allowing visitors to rediscover daily life, from birth to death. The visual support (maps, drawings, reconstitutions) offer visitors the possibility to understand the evolution of the Capital city’s urban tissue, and the exhibited artefacts will carry us to the day-to-day life of medieval Bucharest and its people, from commoners to members of the clergy and the elite.

Dr. Theodor Ignat
Head of the Archaeology Bureau