FINAL NEOLITHIC AND BRONZE AGE FUNERARY PRACTICES AND POPULATION DYNAMICS IN BELGIUM, THE IMPACT OF RADIOCARBON DATING CREMATED BONES

Giacomo Capuzzo, Guy De Mulder, Charlotte Sabaux, Sarah Dalle, Mathieu Boudin, Rica Annaert, Marta Hlad, Kevin Salesse, Amanda Sengeløv, Elisavet Stamataki, Barbara Veselka, Eugene Warmenbol, Christophe Snoeck, Martine Vercauteren

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Abstract

The Final Neolithic and the Bronze Age (3000–800 BC) are periods of great transformations in the
communities inhabiting the area of modern-day Belgium, as testified by archaeological evidence showing an
increasing complexity in social structure, technological transformations, and large-scale contacts. By combining
599 available radiocarbon dates with 88 new 14C dates from 23 from funerary sites, this paper uses kernel density
estimates to model the temporality in the use of inhumation vs. cremation burials, cremation deposits in barrows
vs. flat graves, and cremation grave types. Additionally, by including 78 dates from settlements, changes in
population dynamics were reconstructed. The results suggest a phase of demographic contraction around ca. 2200–
1800 BC highlighted by a lack of dates from both settlements and funerary contexts, followed by an increase in
the Middle Bronze Age, with the coexistence of cremation deposits in barrows and, in a lower number, in flat
graves. At the end of the 14th–13th century BC, an episode of cultural change with the almost generalized use of
flat graves over barrows is observed. Regional differentiations in the funerary practices and the simultaneous use
of different grave types characterize the Late Bronze Age.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)51-80
Number of pages30
JournalRadiocarbon
Volume65
Issue number1
Early online date11 Jan 2023
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 11 Feb 2023

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This project was made possible thanks to the financial support of the FWO-F.R.S.-FNRS with the EOS project No. 30999782 CRUMBEL. Cremations, Urns and Mobility - Ancient Population Dynamics in Belgium. We would like to thank the Fonds Wetenschappelijk Onderzoek – Vlaanderen (FWO) for E. Stamataki and M. Hlad’s doctoral fellowships and the Fonds de la Recherche Scientifique (F.R.S.-FNRS) for A. Sengeløv’s doctoral fellowship. We acknowledge all the institutes that provided the cremated bone material from their collections: the Agence Wallonne du Patrimoine (AWAP), the Agentschap Onroerend Erfgoed, the Art & History Museum (RMAH), the Archeologische Dienst Waasland (now Erfpunt), Archief & Musea Turnhout, the depot Stad Antwerpen, Erfgoed Noorderkempen, Fodio BVBA, the Gallo-Roman Museum in Tongeren, the University of Gent, the Provinciaal Archeologisch Depot of Antwerpen, and the Vlaams Erfgoed Centrum (VEC). We also thank Tess Van den Brande and Gaia Ligovich for the sample preparation for radiocarbon analyses. Eventually, we also express our gratitude to C. Bronk Ramsey and an anonymous reviewer for their constructive comments that improved the quality of the article.

Publisher Copyright:
© The Author(s), 2023. Published by Cambridge University Press for the Arizona Board of Regents on behalf of the University of Arizona.

Copyright:
Copyright 2023 Elsevier B.V., All rights reserved.

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