Cenomani People: Their Pre-Roman Celtic Cemetery Reveals Funerary Customs

Conny Waters - AncientPages.com  - Human remains from a Cenomani burial site, Verona—Seminario Vescovile in Italy were studied by researchers from the University of Granada, Spain. The study  shows variations in funerary treatment between individuals that could be related to social status. However, these variations were not reflected by differences in their living conditions.

The Cenomani Gauls,were Celtic people who began to spread into Northern Italy in the 4th century BC.  Cenomani were allied with the Romans against other Gallic tribes. Later, they remained in their own treaty with the Romans. They lived in present-day northeastern Italy in the early centuries BC.

Cenomani gold coin

Cenomani gold coin. source

The site, investigated by researchers, is a Pre-Roman Celtic cemetery that was used between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC. Seminario Vescovile features some variety in funerary approaches. Some individuals were buried face up, face down, or on their sides; some with animals; and some with varying amounts and types of objects, such as pottery and decorations.

Focusing on 125 individuals buried at the site, the researchers set out to explore links between funerary treatment, age, sex, and diet—the first such study for Cenomani Gauls.

Bone analysis revealed different carbon and nitrogen isotope levels between sexes, indicating that men and women at Verona-Seminario Vescovile had different diets.

Tooth analysis suggests that the population had higher rates of dental enamel defects than did other Pre-Roman and Celtic groups of the Italian Peninsula, pointing to higher physiological stress levels during childhood.

Localization of main Celtic necropolises of Italy and examples of burials from SV. Credit: Laffranchi et al, 2019.

Localization of main Celtic necropolises of Italy and examples of burials from SV. Credit: Laffranchi et al, 2019.

No differences between sexes in funerary treatment were found. They also found no links between funerary differences and isotope measurements or enamel defects. Increased age was somewhat related to increased number of grave objects, but age and burial position were not linked.

These findings suggest the existence of weak social differentiation that could have influenced funerary treatment, but that, apart from different diets for men and women, individuals in the group shared similar living conditions.

Zita Laffranchi of University of Granada, Spain, and colleagues conclude that "this is the first combined study of diet, developmental stress, and funerary patterns in a Celtic community from the Italian peninsula: the little known Cenomani (North-Eastern Italy)."

The individuals, analyzed by researchers were likely members of a homogeneous and potentially low-status group within the original population.


Written by Conny Waters – AncientPages.com Staff Writer