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Pour une archéobotanique funéraire : enquêtes interdisciplinaires et analyses polliniques autour de la tombe et du corps mort (ère chrétienne, france – italie)

Abstract : Roman and Christian mortuary practices are widely explored by historians and archaeologists in Western Europe. Considered as a relic of a social being, the dead body contributes to a better understanding of human communities and cultures. However, even if Man-Environment interactions are now a central issue of the scientific research, no study has questioned funerary behaviors in an ethnobotanical perspective yet. This work aims to reconstitute plant accessories that people collect in their environment to treat the corpse and modify its appearance or its anatomical and biological properties. An original methodology is set up to sample and analyze macro and microbotanical remains, especially pollen, from Roman, Medieval and Modern tombs (1st-17th centuries AD) excavated on eight archaeological sites in France and in Italy. These archaeobotanical data confronted with written sources shed light on two kinds of practices.On the one hand, plant materials such as floral arrangements, litter and cushion made of colorful and fragrant species accompany the defunct into the grave. These tributes modify the sensory perception of the corpse and materialize devotion to the deceased, even in more humble social backgrounds. These results invite archaeologists to consider a new and unexpected kind of grave goods during fieldwork and laboratory analysis.On the other hand, plants are used for embalming into elite social circles. In Europe this practice, most likely originated in Ancient Times, is accurately documented by written and archaeological sources between the 14th century and the early 19th century. Evisceration and excerebration procedures physically transform the corpse, then the flesh and the skin are treated with an aromatic balm composed by many plants and exudates such as wormwood, mint, myrrh and frankincense. Surgeons appeal to medicinal, olfactory and symbolic properties of plants in order to stop the decay process and honor the body.This work lays foundation for an ethno-archaeobotany of death and brings some elements to understand the relationship between the dead body and its plant environment. Ancient origins of these mortuary practices now need to be identified. Moreover their persistence in contemporary society could also be analyzed through an ethno-sociological approach.
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Submitted on : Thursday, June 23, 2016 - 9:59:25 AM
Last modification on : Thursday, January 14, 2021 - 11:44:59 AM
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  • HAL Id : tel-01336409, version 1


Rémi Corbineau. Pour une archéobotanique funéraire : enquêtes interdisciplinaires et analyses polliniques autour de la tombe et du corps mort (ère chrétienne, france – italie). Archéologie et Préhistoire. Université du Maine, 2014. Français. ⟨NNT : 2014LEMA3012⟩. ⟨tel-01336409⟩



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