While excavating for a new business park near Troyes, graves were found. French archaeologists have id’d the graves as including warriors of Gaul, dating back 2300 years.
This picture ran with both the news sources mentioned here–it’s credited to Francios Nascimbeni /AFP.
The date is a little before Death Speaker‘s time–so these warriors would have been remembered by Emyn and her friends as we remember the heroes of the American Revolution, roughly.
Thirty graves date to between 260 and 325 BC, and fourteen have already been excavated. Of those, five graves held warriors. The men buried had weapons and shields “in hand,” according to this report from The Local. (You may read more about the discovery in French here, or–better yet–at this site by INRAP–the archaeological agency overseeing the dig.)
Although the English description is not clear or detailed, the French sites say that the warriors were buried holding swords and spears; one had a woman next to him. Other graves seem to be layered or stacked, so there was some reason to bury people very close together. The graves had flooring and blankets which have rotted away.
There is a lot more information, but my French isn’t good enough to interpret it, even with the help of Google. This is a large site, though, and the warriors of Gaul are apparently just the showiest discoveries. No children, no dishes or household goods, no food.
This YouTube video shows that several women were buried with torques, fibula (pins), and bronze bracelets. In the video, you can see the placement of the pins–both at a shoulder, and right below the throat.
Two warrior were buried with a shield. One is shown above, in a picture from the INRAP site which is credited to Denis Gliksman. The metal rims of the shields are all that remain. One shield stretched more than 4 ft. tall.
Detailed pictures of the graves and the entire area are at the INRAP site. Here’s a direct link to the photos. The captions are in French. And if you’d like to see a moving panorama of the site, here you go!
The 230-hectare site is near Buchères, and the office park–still to be built–will be called Aube Logistical Park. The National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) are in charge. They speculate that this graveyard was chosen not because it’s near any old towns or settlements, but because there are much older gravesites in the area, dating back to the Bronze Age (800 BC and more). I hope they have enough time to excavate and learn as much as they can.
HuffPo reported this and says “The Gauls were a Celtic tribe that once occupied a region of the same name.” Hmph. That’s about as accurate as saying that American Indians were a North American tribe–iow, completely inaccurate. But since HuffPo doesn’t bother to pay writers, should anyone expect accuracy?
That’s a vent, sorry–HuffPo did provide lots of links to better stories. But for the record, the Gauls were any number of tribes, mostly Celtic, that occupied not just France, Switzerland, Belgium, and the the Netherlands, but also larger swaths of Europe at varying times throughout history.
No one seems to be speculating on what particular tribe lived in this area 2300 years ago. I suspect that’s because most of what we know of tribal names and territories comes from Caesar’s reporting, around 55 BC.