about 200 human remains under same family unearthed from undisturbed bronze age funeral pyre in italy
(Photo : Salorno—Dos de la Forca (Adige Valley, Northern Italy): A unique cremation site of the Late Bronze Age) Fig 2. The cremation platform during the excavation of 1987

Between 2000 BC and 27 BC, the people from ancient Italy and most parts of central Europe considered human cremations a common burial practice. The structures where the method is conducted, called funeral pyres (ustrina), were built across the regions. But these pyres have high rarities, unlike catacombs and the usual places of ancient burials.

Rare Funeral Pyre Discovered in Northern Italy

Only a few discoveries of old funeral pyres were recorded throughout the history of archaeological studies because of how they were built. The materials used to develop these structures were specialized to become extremely sturdy and permanent.

Urnfield cremations cover most of the burials commonly unearthed in Europe. This separate tradition, which also existed during the bronze age, works by keeping the created remains of a person in a special urn, along with the sentimental items they left upon their death.

Because of various practices of cremation and a mixture of cultures, the ancient bones collected from early settlers in Europe are scarce. Most of them are either ash laid in place or contained in a container.

A new study discovered in northern Italy might add to the few collections of people from ancient times. Cosmos reported that the archaeological site of Adige Valley’s Salorno-Dos de la Forca presented a whole collection of human remains that were kept safe in an undisturbed pyre.

According to ATI, the funeral pyre discovery dates back to the late bronze age period, between 1150 BC to 950 BC. The dig excavated the rare structure complete with more than 64 kilograms of human ashes, human and animal bone fragments, and other artifacts created during the time. Most goods and tools were made from antlers, glass paste, and bronze.

Generations of Bronze Age Family Cremated in Excavated Pyre

about 200 human remains under same family unearthed from undisturbed bronze age funeral pyre in italy

(Photo: Salorno—Dos de la Forca (Adige Valley, Northern Italy): A unique cremation site of the Late Bronze Age)
Fig 2. The cremation platform during the excavation of 1987

Modern cremations produce ashes that weigh an average of 1,800 grams for females, 2,500 grams for males, 1,000 grams for younger age groups, and 500 grams for infants.

Based on these measurements, the funeral pyre in Italy likely contained approximately 48 to 172 individuals, Gizmodo reports. The authors said that dental and skeletal analysis shows that the group included a six-year-old child and a 13-year-old adolescent.

The experts said that some of the humans in the Italian pyre were not buried individually but were possibly cremated in groups and came in various family generations.

Alongside the human remains, there were 48 cups, two jars, three truncated cone bowls, four plain bowls, and five biconial vases still intact on the site. The authors suspected the absurd number of cups scattered around the cremation place was an essential part of the rituals during the burial ceremonies conducted during the time.

The study was published in PLOS ONE, titled “Salorno-Dos de la Forca (Adige Valley, Northern Italy): A unique cremation site of the Late Bronze Age.”

Keyword: About 200 Human Remains Under Same Family Unearthed from Undisturbed Bronze Age Funeral Pyre in Italy

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