Mysterious Ancient Burial Mound Used for 2,000 Years

Researchers have found evidence that an unremarkable prehistoric burial mound near Bordeaux was re-used by locals for around 2,000 years. (Image: Patrice Courtaud via Université de Bordeaux)

Researchers have found evidence that an unremarkable prehistoric burial mound near Bordeaux, in southwest France, was re-used by locals for around 2,000 years. The researchers say what drew people to the mound for 2 millennia remains a mystery.

The Le Tumulus des Sables site was discovered by chance in 2006 when school children stumbled across human remains in their kindergarten playground. Hannah James, a Ph.D. candidate at The Australian National University (ANU), says it was initially assumed the burial mound site was used solely by the Bell Beakers, one of the first cultures to spread out across Europe, adding:

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By using radiocarbon dating and analysis of four different isotopes, the team was able to gather more information about the people buried there.

Some bodies may have been brought from other areas to the burial mound

The evidence shows one individual was born in a much colder climate, like the Pyrenees Mountains to the south. It’s unclear whether this person migrated to the Le Tumulus des Sables region or whether their whole skeleton, or a single tooth, was brought back and dumped in the burial mound. According to Ms. James, everyone else has:

The evidence shows one individual was born in a much colder climate, like the Pyrenees Mountains to the south. (Image: Patrice Courtaud, Université de Bordeaux)
The evidence shows one individual was born in a much colder climate, like the Pyrenees Mountains to the south. (Image: Patrice Courtaud via Université de Bordeaux)

Archaeologists also found a jumble of metal, pottery, and animal bones at the site, which made it difficult to identify the human remains. Ms. James said:

Archaeologists also found a jumble of metal, pottery and animal bones at the burial mound site, which made it difficult to identify the human remains.
Archaeologists also found a jumble of metal, pottery, and animal bones at the site, which made it difficult to identify the human remains. (Image: Patrice Courtaud via Université de Bordeaux)

The research is published in the Journal of Archaeological Science: Reports.

Provided by: Jessica Fagan, Australian National University [Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.]

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