(ORDO NEWS) — Excavations at a small Iron Age agricultural settlement in northwest France have led to a number of unexpected discoveries.
Archaeological research on the banks of the Orne River in Normandy has been going on for several years. Scientists have established the boundaries of the place where the settlement was located, which existed in the Neolithic.
One can definitely say: people remained in the same place in the Bronze Age, and in the Iron Age, and even when the legions of Rome came to Gaul.
French archaeologists have unearthed houses and outbuildings, which were previously dated to the 2nd century BC. Plant remains collected in storage pits showed that the inhabitants of the settlement grew barley, millet, einkorn wheat and peas.
With the help of archaeozoological methods, scientists determined the type of animal husbandry: mainly cattle, as well as goats, pigs and sheep.
In addition, in one section of the moat that encloses the settlement, they found the remains of carcasses of pigs and sheep without traces of butchering, which raises questions from experts. It could have been a sacrifice, but perhaps this was how the carcasses of sick animals were disposed of.
However, these animals were not the only food sources. The shells of 33 species of marine invertebrates indicate that the tradition of eating oysters and mussels in the lands of Normandy is very ancient.
Finally, the excavations revealed an abundance of metal objects (250 fragments), a few coins and slag – waste from metallurgical activity. Some products are related to agricultural activities – for example, plowshares, and some are clearly handicraft products, for example, jewelry (bracelets, brooches).
Scientists also unearthed an Iron Age necropolis on the territory of the settlement, which was used for burials for almost 300 years, from about 540 to 250 BC.
The main type of burial there is inhumation, but there are also several secondary cremation burials dating back to the 4th century BC. Apparently, for some time the two burial practices coexisted. This usually indicates representatives of different religions, which often means different ethnic origins.
In the entire burial complex there are 121 burials and six more secondary cremation burials. And also two completely strange graves – collective burials.
Once they were surrounded by fences. The dimensions of the fenced areas: ten by ten meters and ten by 13 meters. Human remains were found both inside these buildings and in filling the ditches of the fence.
Scientists noted that there are very few remains of children under the age of one year in the necropolis. They suggest that the babies were buried in a separate place.
In the case of burials, the bodies were mostly placed in a wooden coffin. Most of the dead were buried on their backs or on their sides, with clothes and sometimes with jewelry (bracelets, brooches, rings), as was customary at that time.
Secondary cremation burials are poorly preserved, but, most likely, all burial utensils in these cases are limited to a simple ceramic tomb.
But the most amazing find of archaeologists was not even a necropolis. In the corner of the ditch that encloses the settlement, they found 29 ingots of gold, silver and copper alloy. Preliminary dating – 50-20 years BC.
Similar ingots have already been found in Normandy (but not buried in a ditch), and according to some scholars, they were not intended for use in jewelry, but as a means of payment – which is functionally close to coins made of precious metals.
Who and why buried the ingots in the ground? Who is difficult to say, but the reasons are somewhat easier. In 58 BC, the proconsul Gaius Julius Caesar left Rome and led four legions into Gaul.
There are still many who want to argue about the causes of the Gallic War: someone accuses Caesar of trying to gain popularity in this way, which he did not have; someone believes that he was haunted by the glory of Alexander the Great.
There are those who prefer the version of Caesar himself: that he so wanted to stop the genocide of some peoples who inhabited Gaul.
In any case, during the campaign of 57-56, the legions came to the territory of modern Normandy, then inhabited by Celtic tribes – Armoricans and Belgas.
The desire of the owner of the ingots to hide his wealth in such a difficult situation is more than understandable. The fact that the ingots remained in the ground most likely speaks of the unenviable fate of the person who hid them.
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