22 April 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Early Imperial cemetery in Nîmes, in the south of France

Inrap archaeologists excavating at Nîmes in southern France have uncovered a cemetery dating to the first to second centuries AD with an unusual variety of burial types.

Excavations at 1bis rue de l’Abattoir on the corner of Jean-Jaurès street in Nîmes, so far the interred remains of fifty individuals have been recorded, laid to rest in inhumation burials, cremation urns, and funerary pyres. The graves contain a variety of well-preserved grave goods, primarily pottery.

The area under excavation was just outside the southern perimeter of the ancient city when it was absorbed into the modern city of Nîmes in the 18th century. It was only about 165 feet from the Augustan-era city walls, and one of the main gates was only a few hundred feet west along the wall. Because the neighborhood had been archaeologically neglected until now, the excavation has revealed previously unknown details about the history of Roman towns’ peri-urban areas.

Photo: © Claire Terrat, Inrap

The first remains discovered in the dig were agricultural: furrows dug to plant vines. They have not been definitively dated, but they predate the 1st century A.D. funerary use of space. Although the majority of the fifty identified in the tomb were adults, at least two cases of child burials have been identified. The tombs are divided into groups, but only two are clearly defined on the western side. The eastern side, which contains the majority of the burials, is more ambiguously laid out, but one section has the remains of walls enclosing at least seven burials.

Masonry loculus containing a large ossuary vase. The deposit of the ossuary vase is preceded by the deliberate breaking of a small ceramic vase. It is then accompanied by two jugs and a ceramic vase, as well as a ceramic oil lamp and a glass balsamairium. Photo: © Sarah Beiger, Inrap

There have been several wooden coffin inhumations. The wood is gone, but the iron nails are still there. The coffins were then placed in cut graves.  Outside the coffin, stone blocks were added, and some were used to line the grave walls. One coffin burial was buried in a stone-lined grave and covered with a slab. The deceased was unusually positioned in this grave on his side facing east as if reclining for his final funerary banquet. Another type of inhumation includes a secondary cremation deposit. A coffer lined with ceramic tiles to the deceased’s left (south) contains a cinerary urn and grave goods.

Terracotta lamp decorated with a gladiator accompanying a secondary cremation deposit. Photo: © Christophe Coeuret, Inrap

Inside a masonry loculus, a remarkable cinerary vase was discovered that is very large and in excellent condition (a niche made to contain funerary remains). A small ceramic vase was broken and used as the ossuary’s (a container or room in which the bones of dead people are placed) base before the large vessel was put inside the loculus. They were then positioned in front of and on either side of the ossuary, which towers over them, along with two jugs, a ceramic vase, a ceramic oil lamp, and a small glass balsamarium (unguent/perfume jar).

Ossuary vase with lid, goblet, cup, and glass balsamarium. Photo: © Christophe Coeuret, Inrap
Ossuary vase with lid, goblet, cup, and glass balsamarium. Photo: © Christophe Coeuret, Inrap

A coffer cut out of a single stone contains a precious glass cinerary vase topped by its glass lid, both intact, in another exceptional cremation burial. A ceramic jug, an oil lamp, a cup, a goblet, another glass balsamarium, three wooden styluses, a fragment of faunal bone, and two bronze mirrors are housed inside the coffer with the urn.

INRAP

Cover Photo: © Claire Terrat, Inrap

Related Articles

Roman gilded silver fragment uncovered in Norfolk baffles researchers

27 March 2023

27 March 2023

In Norfolk, a metal detector uncovered an ancient Roman fragment made of gilded silver. The piece was clearly a part...

The tomb of the “Bird Oracle Markos” was found in the ancient city of Pergamon

31 August 2022

31 August 2022

During the excavations carried out in the Ancient City of Bergama, which is on the UNESCO World Heritage List, the...

A former Spanish disco-pub confirmed as lost medieval Synagogue

11 February 2023

11 February 2023

In the Andalucian city of Utrera, archaeologists have uncovered the remains of a 14th-century synagogue. The discovery, made public on...

“Important discovery” showing that the Hittite city of Büklükale close ties with the Hurrian society

21 October 2022

21 October 2022

According to Japanese archaeologists, an ancient clay tablet discovered at the Büklükale ruins in central Turkey suggests that a little-known...

The oldest grave in northern Germany 10,500 years old

14 October 2022

14 October 2022

Archaeologists have discovered the oldest known human remains in northern Germany in a 10,500-year-old cremation grave in Lüchow, Schleswig-Holstein. The...

6,000-year-old island settlement found off the Croatian coast

24 June 2021

24 June 2021

Archaeologist Mate Parica, a professor at the University of Zadar, noticed something unusual while examining satellite images of Croatia‘s coastline....

A long-lost branch of the Nile helped in building Egypt’s pyramids – Scientists Say

1 September 2022

1 September 2022

The Giza Pyramids are one of the world’s most iconic cultural landscapes, and they have fascinated humans for thousands of...

Remains of a 12-year-old boy wearing a bronze warrior belt found in Pontecagnano

6 July 2021

6 July 2021

The remains of a 12-year-old boy wearing a bronze warrior belt were found at Pontecagnano, an outpost of the pre-Roman...

A 4000-Year-Old Seal Found in the prehistoric coastal site of Kalba on the Gulf of Oman

5 April 2024

5 April 2024

Archaeologists discovered a Gulf-type seal made of soft stone dating to the end of the third millennium BC at Kalba,...

Archeologists discover 2000-year-old Roman coins on the deserted Swedish island of Gotska Sandön

14 April 2023

14 April 2023

Archaeologists found 2,000-year-old Roman coins on the Swedish deserted island of Gotska Sandön. Previously, ancient Roman coins were discovered on...

In southern Turkey, an ancient quake-damaged structure was discovered

9 November 2021

9 November 2021

In the ancient city of Perre in southeastern Turkey, a building damaged in an earthquake believed to have happened in...

A Connection Between Viking Knots And Quantum Vortices Discovered

14 December 2022

14 December 2022

Scientists demonstrated how three vortices can be linked in such a way that they cannot be dismantled. Although this study...

A Roman sarcophagus bearing the title of “Emperor’s Protector” was found for the first time in Anatolia

29 April 2022

29 April 2022

A sarcophagus carrying the title of “Emperor’s protector” was discovered in the province of Kocaeli in western Turkey. With the...

A Roman copper-alloy tiny tortoise figurine found in Suffolk

3 December 2023

3 December 2023

In July last year, a small Roman copper alloy tortoise or turtle figurine was discovered by metal detectors near the...

Discoveries on the island of Minorca shed light on the history of Roman conquests in the Balearic Islands

31 July 2021

31 July 2021

The University of Alicante Institute for Archeology and Historical Heritage (INAPH) Researchs discovered a collection of buried Roman antiquities going...