Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Merovingian and Carolingian burial sites discovered near Paris

A team of French archaeo-anthropologists have discovered two burial sites dating from the Early Middle Ages in Noisy-le-Grand, a suburb of Paris. The discovery was made earlier this year.

The first site, Merovingian (5th-6th centuries) consisting of almost 300 graves, is characterised by plaster sarcophagi, the dead adorned with bead necklaces, ear-rings, brooches and plate buckles (belt). The sarcophagi, orientated east-west, are grouped by family and community.

The second one, Carolingian (8th-10th centuries) is marked by a change in funerary practices, where the bodies are unadorned, wrapped in a shroud and buried directly in the earth. It is believed these changes were due to restrictions by the Catholic church.

Noisy-le-Grand is first mentioned in the History of the Franks, by Gregory of Tours at the end of the 6th century AD, in which he mentions a "royal villa" and an oratory for prayer.

The archaeologists hope to learn much from the remains, including indications about the living conditions of the population of Noisy-le-Grand between the 5th and 10th centuries, their demographic profile, kinship links, and nutritional deficiencies.

Curated by the Regional Archaeological Service (DRAC Île-de-France), this excavation covers 1,200 square meters, in an area that is about to go under construction for a new building complex.

See also these articles from

Foreigners in the Histories of Gregory of Tours

The rise of the Carolingians or the decline of the Merovingians?

The Pursuit of Knowledge in Carolingian Europe