martes, 4 de marzo de 2014

New discoveries at the Gallic necropolis of Esvres-sur-Indre (France)

Archaeologists have continued work on a Late Iron Age/Early Roman period necropolis, with a fourth excavation conducted at the site in Central France. In total, 74 graves have been uncovered, including 31 new inhumations.
The area, on the outskirts of the historic town of Esvres-sur-Indre is increasingly under pressure for housing and this expansion is providing an opportunity to study the burial ground in great detail.

Gallic and Gallo-Roman tomb complexes

The necropolis itself has been known since 1909 after the publication of a preliminary study carried out at the time of the planting of a vineyard.
The site has been shown to represent part of a larger funerary area;  in 1999 a group of 29 burials were excavated at Vaugrignon, 300 metres to the west.
The graves were clustered in discreet areas corresponding perhaps to social or family groups and organized around enclosures whose function is not yet clear but may relate to funeral rites.
The extent, number and diversity of burials found in the area, shows the importance of the site during the late Gallic and Gallo-Roman periods. These tombs must relate to a substantial settlement that lies beneath the current town and suggests a continuous occupation for over 2200 years.

Re-established in the 2nd century CE

Four of the new group belonged to warriors buried with their weapons and grave goods included wine amphorae. Currently there are three definite burial complexes within the larger necropolis which appear to show that it was first set up during the 2nd century BCE, then abandoned around 50 BCE before being re-established in the 2nd century CE; the phase excavated in the latest project.
Most of the tombs excavated have contained children. However, the acidity of the subsoil often does not allow good preservation of organic matter including skeletal material and many of graves were found to be ‘empty’. Twenty four did however contain enough skeletal material to be able to identify 18 children and 6 adults; the reduced dimensions of the other graves suggests they too contained children.
The graves frequently contain wooden coffins, of which only the nails are preserved. The dead are accompanied by a rich selection of objects, sometimes mounted on wooden supports arranged within the grave. Terracotta pottery constitutes the majority of deposits: jugs, cups, plates, pots.
Many of the ceramic vessels have often been deliberately broken or smashed during the funeral ceremony, which is a ritual practice characteristic of the early Roman period. personal items are more rarely discovered but include brooches, necklaces and even small terracotta statues; while in one grave an amphora showed the owners taste in imported wine. The amphora (Pascual 1) was from the Roman Province of Tarraconaise in modern day Spain.

Source: Past Horizons:

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