Table of contents:
- 1. The oldest Muslim grave
- 2. Bones in kindergarten
- 3. Bound skeletons
- 4. Tooth of Arago
- 5. Stove with tour
- 6. Hidden Fossil
- 7. Secret code
- 8. Body pit
- 9. Fires that destroyed the settlement
- 10. Lost city
The history of France goes back thousands of years. Unsurprisingly, this region is full of ancient remains. Here, in the villages, secret codes are found, strange cemeteries are hidden under kindergartens, and some cities even turn out to be lost for thousands of years.
1. The oldest Muslim grave
In 2016, during excavations in Nîmes, about 20 graves were found. The tombs found in Roman ruins were too randomly arranged to be a cemetery. Further investigation also revealed three unexpected burials, which scientists believed to be Muslim. The deceased were buried facing Mecca, and the shape of their tombs corresponded to other Muslim tombs. The medieval Arab-Islamic conquest left many traces around the Mediterranean Sea and the Iberian Peninsula.
2. Bones in kindergarten
In 2006, something terrible happened in a French kindergarten. The teacher noticed that the children were digging human bones from the ground, and immediately called the police. It turned out that the kindergarten in the city of Saint-Laurent-Medoc was built on an ancient mound. Archaeologists have found 30 skeletons that probably belonged to a Bronze Age group called the Bell Beaker Culture. Recently, excavations were carried out at the Le Tumulus des Sables mound, and scientists have uncovered another mystery.
For unknown reasons, people returned to the mound for 2000 years (from 3600 BC to 1250 BC) to bury their dead there. Archaeologists cannot understand why the relatively small and unadorned site has been in use for so long. The analysis also showed that the remains of only six people belonged to the Bell Beaker Culture. Another oddity was the diet of these people. Research has shown that they did not eat fish or seafood, despite the region's proximity to river estuaries and the Atlantic Ocean.
3. Bound skeletons
In 2014, researchers returned to the cemetery they had found a year earlier. The necropolis was built many centuries ago by the Romans near the city of Sainte. Scientists have discovered hundreds of graves, including several people whose skeletons were chained. Moreover, these were not only handcuffs, but also iron shackles on the ankles. And another person, whose gender could not be determined, wore a metal "slave collar". All the shackled skeletons were buried without any offerings, suggesting their low social status. Although unknown about them, they were probably held in slavery by the Romans in the second century AD.
4. Tooth of Arago
In 2015, Valentin Lescher went on an archaeological excavation at the Arago Cave in southwestern France. Recall that earlier in the cave were found the remains of the famous man Tautawel, the ancestor of the Neanderthals, who died about 450,000 years ago. As a result, Lescher found a large human tooth. It would seem that this is so, but even an ordinary tooth can tell a lot about the diet and human health. Teeth also contain DNA, which can indicate a person's gender and ethnicity. The very first test showed that the age of the find was about 560,000 years. This alone excited the scientists, because the remains not only turned out to be more than 100,000 years older than the man Tautawel, but can also tell more about someone who lived in Europe at that time.
5. Stove with tour
There are many ancient rock shelters in France. In 2012, archaeologists exploring a cave in the southwestern part of the country discovered a block of limestone on the floor. When they turned it over, it turned out that it may be one of the oldest examples of European art. About 38,000 years ago, the artist painted an extinct large horned animal called tour.Interestingly, it was decided to carry out the excavations in the Abri Blanchard cave for a reason, because in the region in which it is located, and in the cave itself, slabs with carvings and objects of art have already been repeatedly found. Abri Blanchard was a winter haven for the first Homo Sapiens to arrive in Europe.
6. Hidden Fossil
Near the city of Toulouse in 2014, a farmer found something unusual. He dug a huge skull out of the ground, resembling the skull of an elephant (but instead of two tusks, the fossil had four). Fearing that this discovery could lead to crowds of fossil hunters rushing to his site, he decided to keep it a secret. However, a few years later, the farmer brought his find to the city's natural history museum.
Delighted scientists identified the fossil as Gomphotherium pyrenaicum, a relative of the elephant that had the usual two tusks, as well as another pair of tusks protruding from the mandible. This species is extremely rare in the fossil record and is known only from tusks found 150 years ago in the same region. No one knew what the creatures that roamed Toulouse about 12 million years ago looked like until this skull was found.
7. Secret code
In the northwest of France is the village of Plugastel-Daoulas. Several years ago, someone was walking along the beach near her and found a stone with symbols carved on it. A sailboat and a heart were carved into the boulder, as well as the capital letters ROC AR B. … … DRE AR GRIO SE EVELOH AR VIRIONES BAOAVEL. … … R I OBBIIE: BRISBVILAR. … … FROIK. … … AL. ". The meaning of the phrase, given that a number of letters had been erased, was never understood.
Where such a stone came from was also a mystery. About 230 years ago, someone carved symbols that are only visible at low tide. The age was determined thanks to the dates 1786 and 1787, which were also found on the stone. Artillery batteries were built around this time to protect the local fort. However, it remains unclear if there is a connection between the builders and the cryptic code. In 2019, the village offered € 2,000 ($ 2,240) to anyone who could decipher the inscription.
8. Body pit
In 2012, archaeologists stumbled upon 60 holes dug in the ground. Located near Bergheim, a French village near the German border, one pit terrified everyone. It was filled with human remains - severed hands, fingers and seven bodies lay in it for nearly 6,000 years. Whatever horrors happened at that time, even the children were not spared. One hand belonged to a child between the ages of 12 and 16. Four bodies belonged to children, and one of them was barely 1 year old. The middle-aged man faced a particularly brutal death. His arm was severed and he received several blows, including a severe blow to the head, which probably killed him. Researchers have suggested that the Stone Age group was punished for some violation or killed during the war.
9. Fires that destroyed the settlement
In 2017, in the suburb of Saint-Colombe, they were going to build a new residential complex. Standard practice required archaeologists to survey the area first, and what they found was astounding. During the excavations, a Roman settlement of the first century AD was found. On an area of 7,000 square meters, houses, artifacts, shops, mosaics, the largest Roman market square in France, a warehouse, a temple and possibly a school of philosophy have been unearthed.
The settlement is so well preserved that the place quickly earned the nickname "Little Pompeii". The area had been in use for at least 300 years, during which time residents were faced with two large fires. The first occurred in the second century AD, and the second, which occurred in the third century, destroyed the settlement. It was so disastrous that families fled, leaving behind all their belongings. However, this fire literally "mothballed" the remains of the settlement, allowing them to survive for centuries.
10. Lost city
The city of Ucetia was only known from an inscription found in Nimes, another ancient French city.The name "Ucetia" was listed on a stele along with 11 other Roman settlements in the region. For some time, researchers assumed that Ucetia was modern Uzes, a city north of Nîmes. In 2016, plans to build a boarding school in Uzes prompted archaeologists to check the area.
Fearing that the new buildings might "bury" the lost city forever, they began excavations. Finally, Ucetia was found. Huge structures were discovered in a 4,000 square meter pit. The oldest buildings date back more than 2000 years, which was long before the Romans conquered France. Interestingly, signs of activity were found in the excavated city even in the Middle Ages (seventh century). It was mysteriously abandoned temporarily between the third and fourth centuries. But the most surprising find was the floor mosaic, made in a style that was invented about 200 years later, in the first century AD.