lunes, 2 de marzo de 2015

Parisian hospital cemetery excavation: from medieval to modern (France)

The lowering of some cellar ground levels in Paris has resulted in the discovery of a large number of skeletons associated with a cemetery belonging to the Hospital of the Trinity. The hospital was founded in the 12th century and demolished towards the end of the 18th century.
The current building sits above the hospital cemetery, and to date, eight multiple graves have been discovered; seven containing up to twenty individuals, from two-five layers high, and the eighth with over 150 individuals up to six layers high.
Excavation of the graves will provide insight into burial practices of hospitals from medieval right up until the modern era, and offers the opportunity to observe management of the dead in times of epidemics, fevers and famine.
The dead in this large grave were buried with care in a highly organised manner, with at least two rows of individuals  turned upside down, and a third row extending outside the scope of the excavation. Such a large grave is probably the result of an as yet unidentified mortality crisis. Women, men (of all ages), and children are all represented, however the skeletal remains have no apparent lesions (pathologies, trauma) with which to identify the cause. Radiocarbon dating is being carried out to understand the chronology of these multiple burials.

Expanding knowledge

Study of this set of graves will lead to a better understanding of the management of the deceased through the types of deposition highlighted in the various pits, spatial and chronological cemetery organisation and the possible distribution of the deceased according to criteria: biological (age at death, sex…) and health risks (epidemic?).
In France, less than a dozen sites have been the subject of anthropological study, and synthesis on the subject are rare. The opportunity to research this type of context comes along so infrequently that many aspects of funerary practices associated with hospitals remain largely unknown.

Source: Past Horizons:

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