Discovery of human remains dating from the Bronze Age in a cave in Charente

Human remains, remains of animal consumption and broken pottery have been found in a vast cave that served for more than a millennium as a burial place during the Bronze Age, in La Rochefoucauld-en-Angoumois, in Charente (west).

A vast cave that served for more than a millennium as a burial place during the Bronze Age (2,200-800 BC) has been discovered in France, announced Thursday the French Ministry of Culture, praising “its archaeological wealth and its state of conservation. Called Network of the Unicorn, this “sepulchral cave” formed of a succession of rooms and galleries over a linear kilometer, about twenty meters deep, was discovered in La Rochefoucauld-en-Angoumois, in Charente (west) , during road development works in February 2021.

The remains of a dozen people have already been found, on the ground or in natural alcoves of the cave, as well as the remains of animals, hearths and numerous ceramics, including dozens intact, according to a press release. Footprints, including those of bare children’s feet, were also spotted. The “exceptional character of this magnificent discovery comes from the fossilization of the place”, explained to AFP the prehistorian Jérôme Primault, of the regional archeology service of Poitou-Charentes, “we enter there in the state of abandonment of more than 2,500 years”.

A “scientific challenge”

According to the first observations, the cave was occupied from the Early Bronze Age until the Late Bronze Age before its original entrance was blocked off, perhaps intentionally, “putting an end to nearly 1,300 years of occupation”. Disposals of human remains, remains of animal consumption, pottery broken perhaps intentionally, etc. are “unpublished documents on the funeral gestures” of the time, according to the specialist. Other graves will certainly be found later, according to experts.

The study of the site is a “scientific challenge” for the years to come because of its very large size and its frequentation for more than a millennium, according to the ministry. From the discovery and the first exploration by local speleologists, and “in the face of the apparent wealth of the remains”, the passage was marked out for the experts, and the site closed to visits other than for scientific purposes.

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