Archaeology Magazine Archive

A publication of the Archaeological Institute of America

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Gaulish Discovery Volume 55 Number 5, September/October 2002
by Chris Hellier

A strange and hitherto unknown type of Gallic tomb was discovered at Gondole, near Clermond-Ferrand in central France, during rescue operations prior to the construction of a new highway. The tomb contained the bodies of seven adult males, an adolescent, and their eight horses, carefully arranged in a rectangular grave. The bodies, which showed no signs of violence or injury, were laid with their heads to the south, looking eastward. The left arm of each adult was placed on the body before it. No objects were buried with them.

The deaths may have occurred during battles with the Romans, particularly since the site of Gergovia, where Julius Caesar suffered a temporary setback at the hands of Gallic chief Vercingetorix in 52 B.C., is nearby. ("Cartloads" of human and horse bones were discovered in the area during the construction of a railroad in the nineteenth century.)

Alternatively, the tomb and its occupants could reflect a ritual ceremony or have followed bloody inter-tribal disputes. Archaeologists hope the excavation of two other tombs found nearby will help clarify the Gauls' unusual funerary rites.

© 2002 by the Archaeological Institute of America