Churches Underground


Permanent Archeologic Exhibition on the Excavations of Medieval Churches in Odorhei Region



Up to the end of the 20th century the scientific research of medieval churches in our region had been neglected, almost unnoticed, for political reasons, with the exception of some archeologic research of ecclesiastic buildings in Cristuru region (Avrămești, Cristuru Secuiesc). However, in some cases, at the renovation of the churches rough sketches and notes were made about the revealed findings (Mugeni, Feliceni). Starting with the 1990s the renovation works of churches have accelerated, but they were accompanied only occasionally by a more or less serious archeologic research (Daia, Ocna de Sus, Forțeni).

As a result of stopping the lack of specialists, of local initiatives and continuity of church renovations, in the past few years there was the possibility to carry out a large scale archeologic research in more than two dozen medieval churches of Odorhei region, enriching the knowledge on their architectural history, religious and ecclesiastic life with outstanding results. Through these systematic excavations, this special orientation of medieval archaeology, namely ecclesiastic archaeology, has become the leading branch of the discipline in Odorhei region.

The aim of the exhibition CHURCHES UNDERGROUND was to present these scientific results to the public. By using modern means of museology, the visitor has the chance to take a glimpse into the everyday work of the archaeologist, discovering his methods and working tricks.

Having a virtual walk through the church excavations of Odorhei region, with the help of the exhibition, we can observe separately the results of the most important researches: texts, pictures, drawings are linked to the group of material findings, representing some aspects of medieval church and religious life (wear, jewellery, funeral customs). Some interesting spots of the excavations might be the profane findings (e.g. cutlery, tiles).

The reconstruction of an archeologic segment gives life to the working methods and the findings. The visitor, who has the courage to enter an excavation site, will see the following: walls, tombs, carved stonework, and if he/she is lucky, some mural fragments. The murals of the destroyed St. László legend from Martiniș is one of the exceptional cases, where not the archaeologist has to reconstruct from a lucky correlation of findings, like the representation of hooves from Lueta.

There are thematic corners, where visitors will find further information on the archaeological research from Mugeni, Satu Mare, Lueta și Martiniș.

The most important scientific conclusion of the systematic archaeological research would be the following: most of the medieval churches of Odorhei region date back to the age of the Árpáds, also the network of locations with churches was fur more dense, as we used to know from written sources or history of arts; in the late age of the Árpáds Odorhei region would count at least fifty locations with churches.