The Husillos Sarcophagus

Husillos is a municipality located on the banks of the Carrión River in Palencia, Spain. Through its mayor, Don Juan Jesús Nevares Heredia, the town succeeded in bringing back, in the form of a facsimile, a sarcophagus that was removed from the local church in the late 19th century. Sent to the National Archaeological Museum, following the policies of that era, the sarcophagus left the town against the opposition of its inhabitants. The extraction of the last vestige of the once well-known abbey remains engraved in the collective memory of the people of Husillos.

The finished facsimile © Oak Taylor-Smith | Factum Foundation

The sarcophagus, known as ‘La Orestiada’ or the ‘Husillos Sarcophagus’, as referenced in the National Archaeological Museum, dates to the 2nd century AD and is crafted from Carrara marble. It arrived in the village of Husillos in the late 10th century, thanks to the connections with Rome and the Vatican of the then Abbot. In this context, the arrival of the sarcophagus at the Abbey of Husillos represented not just the acquisition of a unique and valuable object but also one of the pillars of our Western culture. It brought with it a compendium of the oral Mediterranean legacy, classicism, and the tragedy narrated on the faces of the sarcophagus, turning the town’s Abbey into a pinnacle of the culture of the time.

The mayor of Husillos launched a public tender for the creation of a replica, which was won by the Factum Foundation in 2022. The project was carried out in collaboration with the Museo Arquelógico Nacional in Spain, and with the necessary permissions from the Spanish Ministry of Culture and Sports. The sarcophagus was recorded using photogrammetry and colour checkers, allowing for the creation of a replica that reproduces the original work down to the millimetre.

The team was led by project director Pedro Miró and reproduction coordinator Aniuska Martín. Monserrat Crespo was responsible for the polychrome process, and Voula Natsi handled the disassembly and digital reproduction of the 3D prototype. The 3D recording works were coordinated by Imran Khan from the Factum Foundation.

In August 2023, the replica of the sarcophagus was delivered and placed inside the Church of Husillos, the only remaining part of the ancient abbey. It was inaugurated in October 2023 and was attended by representatives from the National Archaeological Museum and scholars of the sarcophagus.

Installing the facsimile in August 2023 © Pedro Miro | Factum Foundation