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Une incinération spectaculaire au pied du puy de Dôme. Le bûcher funéraire du col de Ceyssat (Saint-Genès-Champanelle)

Abstract : Research conducted between 1999 and 2003 at the Col de Ceyssat, at the base of the puy de Dôme, revealed the existence of an agglomeration interpreted as a "cult complex" associated with the great summit temple dedicated to Mercury. This agglomeration of about a dozen hectares grows at an altitude between 1000 and 1150 m, on both sides of the Agrippa road from Lyon to Saintes, which crossed the chain of Puys at this place. It includes a cult sector, a probable mutatio and a necropolis. The latter is attested by a funerary stele discovered in the 19th century, a series of cinerary coffers and a pyre in the pit dated to the middle of the 2nd century. The communication will focus on this pyre, which was surveyed in 2000, following clandestine excavations. The dimensions of this structure, the quantity of wood burnt and the number of offerings suggest that we are dealing with a particularly conspicuous incineration which, in the particular context of this site, raises the problem of the deceased's status, but also that of the image he wanted to send back from him at the time of his funeral. The quadrangular bonfire pit is approximately 4 m wide at the opening. Its walls are straight and its bottom is flat. The stratigraphic study of the filling makes it possible to accurately restore the stages of cremation. The amount of coal deposited in the pit and in a large perimeter indicates that the pyre, which overflowed widely on the sides, was very high. The burned wood was exclusively composed of beech, oak and fir. The study of furniture makes it possible to estimate the number of vases deposited in offerings to several hundred. More than two thirds are sigillata ceramic. Half of the vases consist of forms intended to present food (cups); between a quarter and a third of forms used to serve or eat (dishes, plates). The forms related to beverage and food preparation occupy a secondary place. Beside the ceramic objects were many glass objects, tokens, nails (including many shoe nails), rare metal objects and some coins. The spread of the chronology of the sigillata over a relatively long period of time suggests that for the offerings furniture was used which was already a generation old at the time of the cremation, perhaps the dresser of the deceased. Examination of the fragmentation rate of the vases makes it possible to envisage a ritual break of certain forms, in particular drinking vases. The animal offerings consist of sheep, small mammals, small birds and fish, including eel and a small cyprinid, attested for the first time in this type of structure. Plant offerings include beans and lentils, seeds, nuts and fleshy fruits. All these foods had to be partially consumed during the funeral banquet before being placed on the pyre in cups, plates and dishes. Two graffiti with the names of Ambito and Antini have been identified on sigillata bowls. In the light of all these data, one can legitimately assume that the deceased was a dignitary, not a mere inhabitant of the agglomeration. Was it a notable Augustonemetum or a priest of the cult of Mercury, whose summit sanctuary was rebuilt at the same time?
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Contributor : Frédéric Trément <>
Submitted on : Saturday, July 14, 2018 - 5:55:37 PM
Last modification on : Wednesday, March 4, 2020 - 12:18:50 PM

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  • HAL Id : halshs-01839395, version 1

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Frédéric Trément, Lucile Humbert, Philippe Bet, Frédérique Blaizot, Manon Cabanis, et al.. Une incinération spectaculaire au pied du puy de Dôme. Le bûcher funéraire du col de Ceyssat (Saint-Genès-Champanelle). Autocélébration des élites locales dans le monde romain : contextes, textes, images (IIe s. av. J.-C. – IIIe s. ap. J.-C.). Actes du colloque international de Clermont-Ferrand (21-23 novembre 2003), Mireille Cébeillac-Gervasoni, Laurent Lamoine, Frédéric Trément, Nov 2003, Clermont-Ferrand, France. pp.463-500. ⟨halshs-01839395⟩

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