Monday, July 11, 2011

Archaeologists follow the evolution of a french town

For over six years French archaeologists have carried out excavations in the town of Bondy – situated close to the capital, Paris – discovering occupational evidence spanning 800 years (3-11 centuries AD).

Successive funerary spaces

Between the 3rd and the 5th centuries AD, a vast necropolis was established on the site. With more than 400 graves, it has now been partially excavated. The deceased were placed in coffins of which archaeologists have occasionally found traces of wood and nails.

Brought to light in 2007, seven stone sarcophagi, aligned on a north-south axis, marked the limit of the necropolis. An eighth sarcophagus is at present being excavated.

During the Merovingian era (6-8 centuries AD), funeral practices evolved and the necropolis moved towards the south-west. Early in the 7th century, one of the most ancient textual sources, the Testament of Ermentrude, relates the presence of a church in Bondy, around which the cemetery was created. Previous excavations revealed the presence of plaster sarcophagi, sometimes decorated. The deceased were found to be dressed, and adorned with belt plates and pins to fasten the clothes.

In 2007, the excavation at the foot of the church revealed graves of plague victims. The deceased, sometimes in groups of five, were placed in multiple graves. This discovery of victims of the terrible 1348 plague is exceptional in the Île-de-France region. Genetic and carbon 14 dating have confirmed this discovery.

A Carolingian village

Presently, archaeologists are excavating an important Carolingian village of the 9-11 centuries AD. Numerous post holes have been found indicating imposing buildings and outlining Bondy’s urban organization. Also present are the remain of small huts, some containing evidence for weaving looms. Ovens, grain silos and drainage ditches are also apparent.

2011. "Archaeologists follow the evolution of a french town". Past Horizons. Posted: June 27, 2011. Available online:

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