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Archaeologists Uncovered A Roman Cemetery With Over 250 Infant And Stillborn Baby Burials Beneath A Town Square In France

Tjeerd - stock.adobe.com - illustrative purposes only

Underneath a town square, archaeologists discovered a Roman cemetery with over 250 burials of infants and stillborn babies.

The ancient cemetery was found during excavations conducted by the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) at Place du Maréchal Leclerc, a square in the French city of Auxerre.

The necropolis is believed to date back between the first and third centuries A.D. It is one of the largest Roman cemeteries for babies that has ever been uncovered in France.

France was once part of Gaul, which was what the Romans called the part of Western Europe that a Celtic people known as the Gauls inhabited. During the later half of the first millennium B.C., the region came under Roman control.

The cemetery in Auxerre is in good condition, giving archaeologists the chance to study a population of young Roman children.

“It allows us to observe all the funerary practices associated with this very special group of individuals: the way they are buried and other gestures performed by the family of the deceased,” said Loïc Gaëtan, the INRAP dig manager and archaeologist Carole Fossurier.

Most of the bodies were buried in the fetal position, but some were laid to rest on their backs. There was also a diverse range of coffin types, including wooden containers and ceramic vessels.

Other remains were wrapped in textiles. Some remains were simply covered with amphorae fragments. The burial methods seemed to demonstrate the choices that each family made as to how they wanted their children interred.

Excavations began in February ahead of landscaping work at the square. Researchers have managed to dig up more than 250 burials. The remains at the site were primarily those of children under one year old. This age group had a particularly high mortality rate back in ancient times.

Tjeerd – stock.adobe.com – illustrative purposes only

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