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Over 1,000 Ancient Human Skeletons Were Discovered At An Old Abbey In France That Was Founded In A.D. 1002 And Used By Benedictine Nuns For 800 Years

cristianbalate - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

At the remains of an old abbey in France, over a thousand ancient human skeletons were unearthed. The Abbey of Beaumont is located in the city of Tours. It was founded in A.D. 1002 and was used by Benedictine nuns for 800 years.

The religious establishment was confiscated around 1790, during the start of the French Revolution, and the nuns were expelled. The French Revolution occurred from 1789 to 1799. By the beginning of the 19th century, there was almost nothing left of the abbey. Within the complex, only an abbey house and some renovated outbuildings are still standing today.

The French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) and the Archaeological Service of the Department of Indre-et-Loire (SADIL) collaborated to carry out the excavations at the site. According to Philip Blanchard, the scientific manager at INRAP, the case is “unique” for Europe.

“It is, to our knowledge, the first time in Europe that an abbey has been excavated in its entirety,” said Blanchard. “Indeed, while interventions on monastic establishments have been frequent for several decades, they generally only concerned part of the abbey.”

Researchers discovered the ruins of an entire church, a cloister, cemeteries, gardens, dwellings, and other structures. The finds date back to various times throughout the abbey’s history, even as far back as the revolutionary period. In addition, researchers found the remains of a village from the 9th to 10th century, which is even older than the abbey itself.

The first round of fieldwork at the site took place in 2019 and 2020. The researchers had been primarily focused on the area where the gardens and orchards were. The most recent excavations were conducted in the courtyard near the entryway and the abbey’s enclosure, which contained the bulk of the discoveries.

Among the finds was a large church with its cloister still intact. The cloister faced the south and was surrounded by several buildings. Toward the west were storage rooms, including a cellar and four caves. One wing of the cloister contained kitchens and a dining room. Another wing housed a community hall and a meeting space for the nuns to gather and discuss business affairs.

Furthermore, the dormitories were located on the upper floors. Excavations also revealed an infirmary, latrines, wells, fountains, washbasins, parlors, cisterns, and two chapels. Finally, more than a thousand human burials from different time periods were discovered.

To the southeast of the cloister, there was a cemetery reserved for servants or the poor. A parish cemetery was laid to the north of the church. It was meant for residents of the nearby village. Several burials dated back to the years before the abbey was established, confirming that an older village community existed.

cristianbalate – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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