There is news of a major archaeological find in France, at a site near Troyes. Researchers are sifting through a large neolithic necropolis, containing the resting place of a Celtic prince buried in the 5th century B.C. The extensive funerary complex, covering an area over two hectares, contains remains of men, women, and children buried over a period of about 1,600 years. Jean Chichizola has a report (Découverte à Troyes : une nécropole d'une rare longévité, March 6) for Le Figaro (my translation):
The necropolis was used in effect from the end of the Bronze Age (1400 to 1300 B.C.). A razor, an object of prestige, found in a 14th-century tomb seems to indicate that the individuals in question were members of the elite. Bastien Dubuis, the scientist in charge of the dig from Inrap, also underscores the European dimension of the site as a way to understand the end of the Bronze Age. For the early Iron Age, a warrior was found with a sword of that metal. A woman, buried very close to the prince's tomb in a hollowed-out tree trunk and wearing bronze bracelets, interests the archaeologists. It may be a close relation -- ancestor, grandmother, mother? -- of the occupant of the burial mound.The contents of the princely tomb found so far include an Etruscan bronze cauldron, used to store wine, and a Greek ceramic wine pitcher, evidence of the trading between Mediterranean cultures and the Celts, signs of the preeminence of the person buried in the tomb. See more pictures of the find.
DNA analysis may allow the mystery to be understood. One thing is certain: the notable Celtic person buried in the princely tomb managed the symbolic integration of all these earlier sepulchers within the boundary of his mausoleum. More DNA analysis may establish if family bonds among all or some of these individuals explain such an action. Ditches three meters in depth, demanding a collective and exhausting effort from the local population, did in any case surround the whole thing. An amazing sign of power and surely also pragmatism (the outer appearance of the mausoleum being thus tripled at little cost), which obviously impressed the surrounding population for a long time.