Archaeologists discover 20 monumental tombs dating back 6,500 years in France
A team of archaeologists in France have unearthed a Neolithic necropolis containing at least twenty monuments and some intact burials, according to a report in Past Horizons . The monumental constructions, some of which are several hundred metres long, are the first tombs of their kind to be found in the region.
The discovery was made on an area of land in Fleury-sur-Orne in northwestern France, which currently has planning permission for the construction of a residential development with up to 1,800 houses.
Hypothetical reconstruction of the plain occupied by the cemetery. Credit: Laurent Juhel / Inrap
The necropolis, which dates back to the Middle Neolithic (c 4,500 BC), consists of elongated structures made from earth and wood, ranging in size from 12 metres to 300 metres in length. The monuments are surrounded by ditches, which range from 20 cm in width to up to 15 metres, and which may have once held wooden fences. The fact that the tombs range in size from small, simple burials to large and more elaborate constructions, suggest that their society had a hierarchical structure.
One of the graves, measuring 60 metres in length, with a single burial in the centre and surrounded by the remains of seven sheep. Credit: François Levalet / Inrap
Archaeological evidence suggests that the 6,500-year-old tombs were once covered with mounds of earth, which have since been destroyed by agricultural practices over the centuries. Reports suggest that at least some of the mounds were still visible until WW2.
One of the tombs remained exceptionally well-preserved and was found to have the original walls of stacked grass turves still intact, and many of the graves were found to contain preserved arrow heads. One grave contained the skeletal remains of a man with an arrow still embedded in his pelvic bone.
In one grave, an arrow head was found embedded in a pelvic bone. Credit: P. Chambon, CNRS / Inrap
Archaeologists will now undertake extensive testing on the human remains uncovered at the site in an attempt to learn about their origins, their diet, and causes of death.
Featured image: Section of land where archaeologists have uncovered 20 monumental tombs. Credit: François Levalet / Inrap