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Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica

On the Mediterranean island of Corsica, archaeologists have just discovered a completely new structure that is part of an Etruscan-Roman cemetery which is believed to date all the way back to between the 4th and 5th centuries BC.

Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Two pit inhumations, Aléria, Corsica [Credit: © R. Haurillon, INRAP]
According to Forbes, this burial ground in southern Aléria was first spotted after a new home was slated to be built. However, it was swiftly discovered that this was already the enormous home to the many people who had been buried here thousands of years ago.

It is thanks to archaeologists Laurent Vidal and Catherine Rigeade from INRAP (Institut National de Recherches Archéologique Préventives) that we know as much as we do today about this Etruscan-Roman cemetery as these two archaeologists have been excavating and investigating these hallowed grounds since June 2018.

Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Aléria archaeological site. Stairs to the hypogeum can be seen in the middle of the excavated area
[Credit: © R. Haurillon, INRAP]
While what is now Aléria on the island of Corsica is just a small town that consists of around 2,000 residents, at one point in time it was much larger, with a history that stretches straight back to the Neolithic era. During this time, it has been called home by a number of different societies, with Greeks, Etruscans, Carthaginians, and finally Romans claiming Corsica as their own.

This all came to an abrupt end in 465 AD after the Vandals conquered Aléria and it wasn’t until around the middle of the last century that Aléria became a town once again with residents. And not just living residents, but also the many who now rest in the Etruscan-Roman cemetery that was recently discovered.

Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Burial in a brick tomb [Credit: © R. Haurillon, INRAP]
The newest part of the Etruscan-Roman cemetery found on Corsica is significant, as archaeologists have discovered the almost perfectly preserved tombs of past residents from the 3rd century BC to the 3rd century AD, and a large number of these have been discovered to be surrounded by large brick walls and roofs, with a significant amount of grave goods around them.

Perhaps one of the most exciting new finds within this cemetery was the hypogeum that archaeologists unearthed. While this unique and imposingly large underground area has a staircase, no further than this has been explored at the present time, although archaeologists believe that as they continue their excavations they will find further graves within this structure at the bottom of the stairs.

Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
Burial in a wood tomb [Credit: © R. Haurillon, INRAP]
As archaeologist Laurent Vidal explained, “These graves are likely to accommodate several dead, and because of the expense that was required, they were reserved for people of high social standing in the local society – not necessarily a member of the elite, but perhaps a prosperous merchant.”

Due to the different ceramics which have been retrieved from this area, archaeologists believe that this particular part of the cemetery may date back to the 5th century BC, making it a little older than other sections of the cemetery.

Etruscan-Roman cemetery discovered on island of Corsica
View of the excavations at the site [Credit: Jeannot Filippi/Corse Matin]
According to a press release, the hypogeum that was most recently discovered is “considered exceptional within the western Mediterranean,” and more will be learned about this new section of the Etruscan-Roman cemetery on Corsica once further excavations commence.

Author: Kristine Moore | Source: Inquisitor [March 16, 2019]


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