The remains of a 2000-year-old child (and a puppy) found near Clermont-Ferrand

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Archaeological excavations led by the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) recently uncovered the burial of a toddler who was buried around 2,000 years ago. The deceased is accompanied by a young dog wearing a collar and the remains of a funeral banquet.

For several weeks, a team of archaeologists from Inrap has been carrying out archaeological excavations in Aulnat (Puy-de-Dôme), near Clermont-Ferrand, upstream of the installation of a site camp by the Syndicat Mixte from Clermont-Ferrand / Auvergne airport. A few days ago, this work revealed an astonishing burial on the fringes of an ancient Gallo-Roman settlement.

Inside are the remains of a child who died around the age of one, around 2,000 years ago. In other words, he was probably buried at some point during the reign of one of the first two Roman emperors: Augustus (from 27 BC to 14 AD) or Tiberius (from 14 to 37 AD).

An exceptional burial

This child was buried inside a coffin measuring approximately 80 cm, itself placed in a pit about two meters long and one meter wide. Around his coffin, archaeologists have isolated a twenty terracotta containers once containing food and drink related to a funeral banquet. The butcher’s leftovers (including half a pig and two decapitated hens) were also found.

However, this is not all. Personal effects also accompanied the child, including a copper alloy fibula (ornamental pin) and an iron circle about thirty centimeters in diameter accompanied by a bent rod. According to the researchers, it could be a toy (a hoop and his wand).

The remains of a puppy were also laid at the feet of the deceased, next to his coffin. The animal wore an ornate necklace of about fifteen bronze sconces and was with a small bell (unpublished discovery). Researchers still do not know if the animal died of natural causes or if it was sacrificed to accompany the toddler in the afterlife.

Finally, the researchers found a baby tooth, probably lost by an older child. According to INRA, it could belong to the child’s brother or sister.

Credits: Denis Gliksman, Inrap

As to who was the deceased, difficult to say at the moment. However, archaeologists stress that the furniture accompanying this child is quite exceptional, both in terms of quantity and quality. “Such a profusion of crockery and butchery items, as well as the personal effects that followed the child to his grave underline the privileged rank to which his family belonged, can we read on the Inrap site.

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