Multi-proxy analyses reveal regional cremation practices and social status at the Late Bronze Age site of Herstal, Belgium

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

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Abstract

The funerary Bronze Age culture in the Belgian part of the Meuse valley is poorly understood due to the challenging nature of cremation deposits that dominate the archaeological record. Only a few sites were analysed in that region, limiting the possibilities to reconstruct the development of Bronze Age populations in Belgium. Due to its good preservation and detailed excavation reports, the site of Herstal (Belgium) offers a unique opportunity to finally gain new insights into the life and death of those buried in the Meuse Valley during the Late Bronze Age. A total of 21 graves were analysed using a multi-proxy approach, combining grave typology, osteoarchaeology, strontium isotope ratios (87Sr/86Sr), and radiocarbon dating. The 87Sr/86Sr results show that the individuals of Herstal most likely used a variety of local food supplies while having interactions with other populations in and beyond the Meuse Valley, as demonstrated by the bronze artefacts and ceramics displaying clear influences from Germany, Southern Netherlands, and North-West France. The cemetery most likely shows a local burial style with the presence of two (or even three) individuals in several cremation deposits containing a number of privileged individuals who had access to bronze trading networks.

Original languageEnglish
Article number105437
JournalJournal of Archaeological Science
Volume132
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2021

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