Archaeo-anthropological discoveries

A few recently published discoveries regarding archaeological skeletal remains.

Merovingian skeletons and sarcophagi at Saint-Léger (prov. Luxembourg)

Human remains in and around two sarcophagi were found in 2014 and 2016 in Saint-Léger, a village of the South of Belgium.

First sarcophagus at Saint-Léger

Denis Henrotay, archaeologist and one of the external directors of the Archaeology Service (Public Service of Wallonia, DGO4, Heritage department), and his team excavated the burial and its surrounding in a rescue process that took no more than 3 days!

A fibula and a knife date back the two skeletons to the 7th century, i.e. the final part of the Merovingian period.

A heap of bones was also found next to each sarcophagus, at the level of the lid. This funerary treatment, called a reduction, consists in removing a previous body from the sarcophagus and placing it on the side, in order to lay down a more recent deceased.

Anthropological analysis counted minimum 5 individuals : 4 skeletons and a few supernumerary bones. The skeletons were relatively old adults, women and men. One had a little benign tumor (ivory osteoma) on the parietal and another exhibits healed fractures to the ribs. More details to be published.

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Ancient parish cemetery and a rare archaeological case of a radioulnar synostosis in Virton (prov. Luxembourg)

Traces of an old parish church and its cemetery are sometimes scarce and tough to identify, especially when the cemetery is relocated to the outside of the town... along with some of the burials. Such relocation of parish cemeteries may result in several burials remaining at the previous location, possibly forgotten.

An example of this was seen in the South of Belgium, at Virton. The earliest tombs of the cemetery date back to the 13th century and the more recent ones to the 18th century.
Denis Henrotay and his team (SPW-Archaeology) excavated the area and managed to identify the remains of the old parish church underneath the Great Place (before it was renovated). The building was destroyed but the tombs helped preserve a rough outline of it.


Lab analysis identified a rare pathology to the forearms of one deceased person.


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