Collective burial of Mas Rouge/Cavalade (Montpellier, France) FR | EN

ID : 10.34847/nkl.b48d6zn6 Public
Created on 5/19/21
FR | EN

Scientific note

The Neolithic collective burial (Final Neolithic, Ferrières culture) of Mas Rouge at Montpellier (Hérault, France) was discovered in the context of a preventive archaeological operations sequence carried out by Inrap on the routes of two major regional development projects. The geographical area concerned is the Lez delta between Montpellier and Lattes, already rich with a signi...ficant corpus of archaeological sites explored over the last thirty years. The burial site is located in the close vicinity of a contemporary village (La Cavalade site), whose installation is linked to an environment very favorable to agriculture, that of the coastal plain very close to the ponds, fed by numerous rivers and not far away from the resources of the limestone hinterland. The burial site was used for several generations (± 150 years) as the community "tomb-cemetery". The remains of this funerary structure were analyzed and collected within a large rectangular excavation measuring 6 m by 4 m and 1.70 m in depth (originally probably more than 2 m). The eastern half part of the structure at least, was initially under-cavated, leaving a natural horizon of dense sandstone and pudding elements. In view of the existing facilities in the earliest phases of its use (earthen floors, logettes for wedging large vases, etc.), the primary purpose is that of a large domestic cellar. The funerary purpose comes later - following significant damage to the natural ceiling - within a complex structure that combines the reorganized excavation with a semi-buried building (floors on joists and elevations in shaped mud bricks or in cob), the emerged part of the tomb then taking on the configuration of a small, low house with a light roof. The human bones appear in several state : primary deposits with little or no alteration, secondary deposits (reduction spaces), with or without the stigma of alteration by fire. The internal organization of the tomb is carried out on three levels and the reworking of bones refers to a circuit and a complex architecture, involving the recurrent and important presence of building elements made of raw earth, the majority of which were also affected by fire. Especially in the west part of the structure, these elements are strictly mixed with the bones and thus attest to the collapse of earthen elevations integrated to the sepulchral architecture. Nearly 200 deceased persons, adults as well as children of all ages, were deposited on one of the floors of the building. The end of its use is marked by a voluntary destruction by fire, without the last corpses and skeletons being removed (without a last "storage"). Several causes may have led to the condemnation of this tomb : the departure of the community, a change in funerary practices or a weakening of the architecture. The furnishings found in the tomb are representative of the culture involved, the relative abundance of ornaments being consistent with what is known about sepulchral practices of the period. However it should be emphasized that this complex structure, which combines an architectural cover and an artificial cavity rearranged as part of a lasting burial, a "tomb-cemetery," has no real equivalent in the funerary field of this period. It refers both to certain hypogea in the Vaucluse and rare rearranged caves in the Languedoc (which are both still very poorly known) as well as long-chamber burials in the north (Paris Basin) which have revealed wooden superstructures similar to those of houses. In conclusion, if the principle of long-term funerary organization of the sepulchre is very much in line with what is known for the large collective burials of the Final Neolithic, the architectural variation encountered here, as part of the funerary reprogramming of this collective structure, makes Mas Rouge a unique site.

Y. Tchérémissinoff (1,2) et É. Leal (1,3)

1 INRAP
2 UMR 7269, LAMPEA
3 UMR 5140, ASM

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)

en Collective burial of Mas Rouge/Cavalade (Montpellier, France)
en individual burials
en multiple burials
en Final Neolithic
en hypogeum
en funerary house
en earthen architecture
en Anthropology
en south of France
fr Sépulture collective
fr sépultures individuelles
fr sépultures multiples
fr Néolithique final
fr hypogée
fr maison funéraire
fr Architecture en terre
fr Anthropologie
fr sud de la France
en Scientific note

The Neolithic collective burial (Final Neolithic, Ferrières culture) of Mas Rouge at Montpellier (Hérault, France) was discovered in the context of a preventive archaeological operations sequence carried out by Inrap on the routes of two major regional development projects. The geographical area concerned is the Lez delta between Montpellier and Lattes, already rich with a significant corpus of archaeological sites explored over the last thirty years. The burial site is located in the close vicinity of a contemporary village (La Cavalade site), whose installation is linked to an environment very favorable to agriculture, that of the coastal plain very close to the ponds, fed by numerous rivers and not far away from the resources of the limestone hinterland. The burial site was used for several generations (± 150 years) as the community "tomb-cemetery". The remains of this funerary structure were analyzed and collected within a large rectangular excavation measuring 6 m by 4 m and 1.70 m in depth (originally probably more than 2 m). The eastern half part of the structure at least, was initially under-cavated, leaving a natural horizon of dense sandstone and pudding elements. In view of the existing facilities in the earliest phases of its use (earthen floors, logettes for wedging large vases, etc.), the primary purpose is that of a large domestic cellar. The funerary purpose comes later - following significant damage to the natural ceiling - within a complex structure that combines the reorganized excavation with a semi-buried building (floors on joists and elevations in shaped mud bricks or in cob), the emerged part of the tomb then taking on the configuration of a small, low house with a light roof. The human bones appear in several state : primary deposits with little or no alteration, secondary deposits (reduction spaces), with or without the stigma of alteration by fire. The internal organization of the tomb is carried out on three levels and the reworking of bones refers to a circuit and a complex architecture, involving the recurrent and important presence of building elements made of raw earth, the majority of which were also affected by fire. Especially in the west part of the structure, these elements are strictly mixed with the bones and thus attest to the collapse of earthen elevations integrated to the sepulchral architecture. Nearly 200 deceased persons, adults as well as children of all ages, were deposited on one of the floors of the building. The end of its use is marked by a voluntary destruction by fire, without the last corpses and skeletons being removed (without a last "storage"). Several causes may have led to the condemnation of this tomb : the departure of the community, a change in funerary practices or a weakening of the architecture. The furnishings found in the tomb are representative of the culture involved, the relative abundance of ornaments being consistent with what is known about sepulchral practices of the period. However it should be emphasized that this complex structure, which combines an architectural cover and an artificial cavity rearranged as part of a lasting burial, a "tomb-cemetery," has no real equivalent in the funerary field of this period. It refers both to certain hypogea in the Vaucluse and rare rearranged caves in the Languedoc (which are both still very poorly known) as well as long-chamber burials in the north (Paris Basin) which have revealed wooden superstructures similar to those of houses. In conclusion, if the principle of long-term funerary organization of the sepulchre is very much in line with what is known for the large collective burials of the Final Neolithic, the architectural variation encountered here, as part of the funerary reprogramming of this collective structure, makes Mas Rouge a unique site.

Y. Tchérémissinoff (1,2) et É. Leal (1,3)

1 INRAP
2 UMR 7269, LAMPEA
3 UMR 5140, ASM

Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator (free version)