viernes, 1 de agosto de 2014

Merovingian necropolis reveals 300 graves (France)

A team of archaeologists working on a site at Saint-Aubin-des-Champs in France have discovered the remains of a Merovingian necropolis dating to the 5th -7th centuries AD.
The excavations, which began in mid-March 2014, confirmed the importance of the initial 2013 evaluation, with the uncovering of a complete burial ground containing more than 300 graves, some of which contain rich grave goods. The study of this site involves several specialisms, including ceramics, glass and metal.

Burial practices

The graves were found at a variety of depths with some up to 1.50 m deep. Each burial contained the deceased once contained within a wooden coffin, now completely rotted away.
An examination of the contents of these burials allowed them to be split into three main groups or periods of inhumation
Graves with artefacts and ornaments dating to 5th century AD.
Fewer grave goods are in evidence after 5th century AD as the population has become Christian.
7th century AD burials are characterised with individuals wearing simple or highly decorated belt buckles of bronze or iron.
In one of the earlier graves, archaeologists have unearthed the skeleton of an adult man with a particularly rich assemblage of twenty grave goods consisting of ceramics, glassware, a bronze basin, tin plate, even a wooden bucket with bronze strapping, a decorated Frankish axe, spear, dagger in his belt and silver coin deposited on the mouth. This man went well dressed into the afterlife, as he was even wearing a pair of shoes.
Early studies conducted by anthropologists on the human remains confirm that all age and genders are represented in this burial ground. Few burials of young children have so far been accounted for, possibly because the shallower graves had been disturbed over time. Also, young children were excluded from the ‘community cemetery’, both in ancient times and in the Middle Ages.
Archaeologists have come to the conclusion that this was the cemetery of a small village community, who lived in Évrecy between the fifth and seventh centuries AD. This cemetery was abandoned in the late seventh century, probably in favour of another burial sites at the Christian monastery founded in the seventh century on the site of the present church of Saint-Pierre Évrecy.

A wealth of knowledge

The discoveries from this funerary complex are particularity exciting because it was never looted, therefore all the burials and funerary goods are preserved to an exceptional level, providing a total record of three centuries of life and death in the region. This will provide valuable archaeological information about a period which is poorly documented. In addition, by good fortune, the excavation site covers the burial ground in its entirety, as the archaeologists have also identified the delineating enclosure.
This will allow researchers to conduct a comprehensive study on the history and lifestyle of this community and will become a major reference in the study of burial practices in Lower Normandy, during the period that witnessed the transitional period between the end of the Roman Empire and the beginnings of Christianity and medieval Europe.

Source: Past Horizons:

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