The Medieval way of cremation: Investigating the cremation conditions using FTIR-ATR and carbon and oxygen isotope analysis on cremated bones.

  • Stamataki, E. (Speaker)
  • Veselka, B. (Contributor)
  • Kevin Salesse (Contributor)
  • Ioannis Kontopoulos (Contributor)
  • Giacomo Capuzzo (Contributor)
  • Hlad, M. (Contributor)
  • Dalle, S. (Contributor)
  • Amanda Sengeløv (Contributor)
  • Guy De Mulder (Contributor)
  • Snoeck, C. (Contributor)

Activiteit: Talk or presentation at a conference


While cremation was the dominant funerary practice in Belgium during the Bronze and Iron Age (ca. 2100-52 BCE) through to the Roman period (ca. 52 BCE- 406 AD) only a few cremation cemeteries (up to 700 AD) have been discovered from the Early Medieval period. During the Early Medieval period, inhumation was the main funerary rite and cremation was used to a lesser extent from the fifth to seventh centuries. Recent developments in Infrared Spectroscopy and carbon and oxygen isotope analysis indicate that the study of cremated bones provides important information regarding pyre technology and body management in past societies.
The aim of this study is to assess the intra- and inter-site variability in cremation conditions during the Medieval period, using Attenuated Total Reflectance-Fourier Transform Infrared Spectroscopy (ATR-FTIR) and carbon and oxygen isotope analysis on burnt human remains from Belgium. For this reason, three cemeteries from the Early Middle Ages were selected and over 300 samples were analysed. The spectroscopic and isotopic results of the cremated remains indicate that there is a high degree of homogeneity in cremation conditions during the Medieval period. However, statistically significant differences can be observed when comparing the data of the Early Medieval period to Roman period (ca. 52 BCE-406 AD), indicating that the way cremation was performed changed between the two chronological periods from the same area. This inter-and intra-site variability adds to our understanding regarding the pyre technology, body treatment, and pyre management at the studied sites and on the use of fire in funerary rituals.
Periode30 aug 20232 sep 2023
Gehouden opEuropean Association of Archaeologists 2023, United Kingdom
Mate van erkenningInternational