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Exceptional child's grave from Gallo-Roman era found near Clermont-Ferrand


An "exceptional" child's grave, 2,000 years old, was discovered under Clermont-Ferrand airport, in Aulnat (Puy-de-Dôme), the National Institute announced on Thursday preventive archaeological research (Inrap). About a year old, the young deceased was buried at the beginning of the 1st century AD in a wooden coffin 80 centimeters long "revealed by the presence of numerous nails and an ornamental iron plate", specifies Inrap in a press release.


Exceptional child's grave from Gallo-Roman era found near Clermont-Ferrand
The archaeologists working on the excavation of the grave on the edge
of the airport runways [Credit: Denis Gliksman, Inrap]



This discovery took place in December as part of preventive excavations carried out by archaeologists from Inrap on the prescription of the State and the Drac Auvergne-Rhône-Alpes, upstream of the installation of a camp. of construction at the airport.


Exceptional child's grave from Gallo-Roman era found near Clermont-Ferrand
The archaeologists working on the excavation of the grave on the edge
of the airport runways [Credit: Denis Gliksman, Inrap]

Numerous offerings to the deceased were unearthed around the coffin: about twenty containers and pieces of butcher's shop including half a pig, three hams, other portions of pork and two decapitated hens. Miniature vases and glass balsamaria possibly containing cosmetic or medicinal products have also been discovered.


Exceptional child's grave from Gallo-Roman era found near Clermont-Ferrand
Burial of a young child who died in the Augusto-Tiberian era
[Credit: Denis Gliksman, Inrap]



This burial is "atypical with regard to the profusion of vases and offerings. In this type of tomb, we often find one or two vases placed at the foot. Here, there are about twenty, as well as abundant food deposits. ", said Laurence Lautier, head of the airport searches. This "reflects a certain social status, a family that is certainly very rich," she added.


Exceptional child's grave from Gallo-Roman era found near Clermont-Ferrand
Many vases and deposits of meat accompanied the young deceased
in his tomb [Credit: Denis Gliksman, Inrap]

The archaeologists also unearthed an iron hoop associated with a metal rod, in fact a game "which existed at the time but had not been discovered in a burial", according to Lautier.


Exceptional child's grave from Gallo-Roman era found near Clermont-Ferrand
Photogrammetric survey of the young child's skeleton, surrounded by that
of the dog and the pig, after removal of the vases from the grave
[Credit: Ivy Thomson, Inrap]



Near the child, a dog skeleton was also found in "an accompanying grave". Such an association was common at the time, but the discovery of the animal's collar and its bell "are very new", underlines Inrap. Finally, a deposit "as small as it is moving was placed on a fragment of a shell: a baby tooth lost by an older child, possibly that of a brother or sister of the young deceased".


Exceptional child's grave from Gallo-Roman era found near Clermont-Ferrand
Skeleton of the young child surrounded by that of the dog and the pig, after
removal of the vases from the tomb [Credit: Ivy Thomson, Inrap]

The burials of young Gallo-Roman children are often located outside the community funeral area and sometimes even near the family hearth, details the institute. This discovery "gives us indications on the interpretation of buildings located nearby, certainly a villa", explained Laurence Lautier.


Exceptional child's grave from Gallo-Roman era found near Clermont-Ferrand
Skeleton of the puppy with its collar and copper alloy bell
[Credit: Argan Connan, Inrap]

Carried out over 3.5 hectares, the excavations reveal settlements from the Iron Age, Antiquity, the High Middle Ages and modern times. Started in November, they should end in February.


Source: Press From [January 15, 2021]



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