A team of French archaeo-anthropologists have discovered two burial sites dating from the Early Middle Ages in Noisy-le-Grand, a suburb of Paris. The discovery was made earlier this year.
The first site, Merovingian (5th-6th centuries) consisting of almost 300 graves, is characterised by plaster sarcophagi, the dead adorned with bead necklaces, ear-rings, brooches and plate buckles (belt). The sarcophagi, orientated east-west, are grouped by family and community.
The second one, Carolingian (8th-10th centuries) is marked by a change in funerary practices, where the bodies are unadorned, wrapped in a shroud and buried directly in the earth. It is believed these changes were due to restrictions by the Catholic church.
Noisy-le-Grand is first mentioned in the History of the Franks, by Gregory of Tours at the end of the 6th century AD, in which he mentions a "royal villa" and an oratory for prayer.
The archaeologists hope to learn much from the remains, including indications about the living conditions of the population of Noisy-le-Grand between the 5th and 10th centuries, their demographic profile, kinship links, and nutritional deficiencies.
Curated by the Regional Archaeological Service (DRAC Île-de-France), this excavation covers 1,200 square meters, in an area that is about to go under construction for a new building complex.
See also these articles from Medievalists.net:
Foreigners in the Histories of Gregory of Tours
The rise of the Carolingians or the decline of the Merovingians?
The Pursuit of Knowledge in Carolingian Europe