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15 November 2013
6,000 years of occupation in Alsace

Obernai is a commune in the Bas-Rhin Department in Alsace in north-eastern France. As part of the requirement for planning on a new development, prior to construction commencing, INRAP (the French National Institute of Preventative Archaeological Research), have made some exciting discoveries. The most recent one, dating from approximately 150 BCE, is the remains of a Gallic farm, with several personal artefacts and jewellery, identifying the importance and wealth of the farmer.
     Moving forward in time, to approximately 450-350 CE, the Merovingian Period, further exciting artefacts were uncovered, including an example of the practice of deliberate head distortion. It is believed that the elite social group at that time compressed the skull out of shape from an early age, to enable them to be identified easily. This practice was not a local one but was identified with the Huns from Central Asia and is evidence of the migration of Eastern communities towards the end of the Roman Empire.
     Possibly the most exciting discovery so far though is that of a relatively small Neolithic necropolis dating from approximately 4,750 BCE. Its importance lies in the fact that it marks the transition from the larger 'Danube' burial grounds to the smaller groups, adding good data to a poorly documented period.

Edited from Past Horizons (1 November 2013)

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