Necropolis found in Corsica offers rare glimpse into lives of ancient population

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Archaeologists in Corsica have uncovered a necropolis containing some 40 tombs dating from the 3rd to the 6th century.

The surprise discovery, at an excavation site in the town of Ile-Rousse, on the western coast, consisted of bodies mostly buried in African amphorae, or cylindrical jars, from Tunisia.

The French National Institute of Preventive Archaeological Research, which is in charge of excavations on the French island, said the discovery confirmed that people had lived in Ile-Rousse during ancient times.

Founded in the mid 18th century, Ile-Rousse was a modest village of fishermen and peasants. Little is known about its existence before that period.

“The archaeological indications of previous occupations were rare and fragmentary,” the institute said in a press release, adding that Ile-Rousse has now been “renewed” thanks to the discovery.

Site of interest

Since late February, French archaeologists have been excavating two sites in the centre of the town, both about 600 m2.

Amphorae – often used to import wine, olive oil and brine from Carthage between the 4th and 7th centuries – was used as “receptacles for the deceased”, the institute said.

While burial within these large cylindrical containers was generally reserved for children, the institute said that adults had also been buried.

The ages of those buried has yet to be determined, with the bodies said to be in an “average state” of preservation.

Ongoing anthropological studies on the town are expected to shed new light on the lives of the ancient population that lived there.