A team of archaeologists carrying out excavations prior to the construction of a single-family home in Saintes, southwestern France, has unearthed the skeletons of several individuals, including two women and two children, some with iron shackles around their necks, the ankles or wrists, according to the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) in a statement.
The skeletons lay in rectangular graves and among the funerary trousseau, practically non-existent, some coins from the second half of the 2nd century AD stand out. which were placed over the eyes of one of the children. It is a Greco-Roman funerary rite aimed at remunerating the mythological ferryman who transported souls to the underworld.
The tombs are part of an extensive Gallo-Roman necropolis, dating from a time after the Roman conquest of Gaul. The archaeological site is located about 250 meters west of the Saintes amphitheatre, built in the 1st century AD, between the reigns of Tiberius and Claudius.
The chains and shackles carried by the skeletons denote the low social status of the deceased, who could have been slaves and even gladiators who fought in the amphitheater arena.
The archaeologists will try to discover the origins of these individuals, their social situation and the circumstances that caused their death.