A few meters from a busy train station in central Paris, scientists have discovered 50 graves in a rare ancient burial site that offers a glimpse into the lives of the ancestors of the French capital, Lutecia, some 2,000 years ago.
However, the buried cemetery was never discovered during the many road works over the years and the construction of the historic Left Bank station in the 1970s. However, plans for a new station exit have triggered archaeological excavations.
Camille Colonna, an anthropologist at the National Institute of Preventive Archeology (INRAP) in France, told a news conference that there was “strong suspicion” that the site was near a necropolis south of Lutetia. The largest cemetery in the Gallo-Roman city of Lutetia is St. Jacques Cemetery, partially excavated from the Jacques Cemetery.
“This will enable researchers to learn more about the Parisii’s lives through their funeral customs and health through DNA analysis.”Camille Colonna, an anthropologist at France’s National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP),
However, only the most valuable objects were taken from the tomb, and many skeletons, grave goods, and other artifacts remained. After that, the cemetery continued to be closed.
The INRAP team discovered a site that had never been excavated before. “No one has seen it since ancient times,” said Dominic Garcia, president of INRAP.
Colonna said the team was “very happy” when they found the skeleton with a coin in its mouth. This allowed us to date the burial to the 2nd century AD. Excavations that began in March revealed 50 graves, all of which were used for burial rather than cremation, which was common at the time.
Archaeologists say the discovery will help them understand life in Paris nearly 2,000 years ago. Ferryman Hades
The remains of a man, woman, and child are believed to be those of Parisii, Gauls who lived in Lutecia from the time the city on the banks of the Seine came under Roman rule.
The skeletons were buried in wooden coffins, now recognizable only by their nails. More than half were buried next to offerings such as clay jars and bowls.
Coins were sometimes placed in coffins and even in the mouths of the dead, a common practice at the time called Charon’s Plague. In Greek mythology, Charon was the barge of Hades, and coins were considered bribes to bring the souls of the dead across the River Styx.
Archaeologists also found shoes in the tomb and identified them as small nails in the soles of the feet. Colonna said the shoes were “placed at the feet of the dead or sacrificed near them.”
The INRAP team discovered a site that had never been excavated before. Jewelry, hair clips, and belts were also found.
Whole skeletons of pigs and other small animals have been found in pits where the animals were believed to have been sacrificed to the gods. Unlike the 19th-century dig, this time the team plans to remove everything from the burial site for analysis.
“This allows us to understand health by studying Parisian life and DNA through the store,” said Colonna. Garcia said the ancient history of Paris was “not generally known”.
The excavated tomb provides “a window into the world of ancient Paris,” he added.