Chartres: archaeologists open a sarcophagus from the Merovingian era, sealed for more than 1500 years

Chartres: archaeologists open a sarcophagus from the Merovingian era, sealed for more than 1500 years
Chartres: archaeologists open a sarcophagus from the Merovingian era, sealed for more than 1500 years

On Wednesday June 19, 2024, archaeologists opened a sarcophagus sealed for more than fifteen centuries, in the Saint-Martin-en-Val church, in Chartres. The exhumed skeleton is probably that of one of the first bishops of the Merovingian era.

In the heart of the church of Saint-Martin-au-Val, the C’Chartres Archéologie teams opened a limestone tomb, dated to the Merovingian era of the 6th century you are susceptible to contain the remains “of a very important religious figure”, reports Sud-Ouest.

The possible remains of a 5th century bishop

Since 2013, this church has been the subject of excavations by the Department of Archeology of the city of Chartres in the aim to learn more about the history of the city. Already, in 2016, specialists had exhumed the skeleton of a female baby aged 5 to 8 months.
This time, experts from C’Chartes Archéologie, in collaboration with a teacher and a doctoral student from Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne, have opened a new tomb whose location, “so close to the church choir” let the specialists “imagine that it welcomes the remains ofa religious figure very important in the Merovingian era”, told AFP the director of the team of archaeologists from the city of Chartres, Mathias Dupuis, relayed by -. According to archaeologists, it would most certainly be the remains of one of the first bishops of the 5th century, since it is in these places that they were buried, in Chartres, during the Merovingian era.

The sarcophagus opened by archaeologists, Wednesday June 19, 2024, in Chartres.

The bones are under study

When the tomb was opened, archaeologists were able to observe a skeleton that had been decomposing for more than 1500 years. For the moment, they do not have enough information to define the sex of the remains, however, they mention “a tall individual, with a height from head to heel of 1m85, robust. The body is on its back, with the head up, hands on the hips, and probably still some facial skin”, describes Emilie Portat, archaeo-anthropologist, lecturer at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne. According to the researchers, the tomb in question has never been opened for more than 15 centuries, but the bones are in “poor condition” and have been damaged.

The next step will be to carry out further analyzes to understand which character it is. For the moment, almost 23 tombs have been unearthed in this sacred place since 2013, one of which contained the bones of a woman over 30 years old with objects dated from the last third of the 6th, early 7th century. This new discovery is part of a desire “to understand the origin of this symbolic church since the monument is located within the perimeter of a large Roman sanctuary founded from the 1st century AD, one of the largest known in Roman Gaul”, said the director of C’Chartres.

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