The funeral ceremonies. Bones and tears: preparing the body, mourning and honoring the dead

From Wednesday 26 May to Friday 28 May 2021

Exceptionally, due to health issues that forced to postpone this Meeting to be held in 2020, it was held in videoconference in 2021.

The passing away of an individual from the group, that is, the death of a loved one, is a source of social disruption that can be experienced diversely, at both the individual and the broader family or societal level. Traditional societies have almost universally ritualized this event. The emotions that come along the loss of a dear one have led “those who remain” to take a series of actions, which may vary according to time, culture and social strata within a society. The funeral ceremony and the burial or cremation of the body are generally the culmination of this series of actions. Whatever their nature, the funerary behaviors can be interpreted as voluntary attitudes forming part of the social processes aimed at integrating the loss. This can be compared to the “work of mourning”, according to the Freud’s now classic expression, adapted to the collective scale.

The 12th Rencontre du Gaaf will be held virtually, from may 26th to 28th 2021. The conference will focus on funeral, in the broadest sense of the term, i.e. all the actions taken to allow the passage from the day of life to the darkness of death. This includes all the gestures carried on or around the body and the grave, before, during and after the deposition of the body, whether they are anecdotal or indicative of a chaîne opératoire. Not only the technical gestures that allow proper funeral will be considered, but also those with ritual purposes, those used to prepare the body and arrange the grave, and those related to commemorative activities.

Podium and poster presentations will focus on the three main phases of the funeral:

  • The preparation time: preparation and transportation of the body, digging of the grave, construction of the burial containers, graves goods, etc.
  • The moment of the funeral: management of the body, associated ceremonies, nature of the deposits, etc.
  • The various forms of memory: grave markers, post-ceremonial gestures, reopening of the graves, etc.


Organizing committee Émilie Portat (Direction de l’archéologie, Chartres)Stéphane Hérouin (Direction de l’archéologie, Chartres)Patrice Georges-Zimmermann (Inrap)

Scientific committee Yann Ardagna (Université Aix-Marseille)Valérie Bel (Inrap)Laurent Coulon (Direction de l’archéologie, Chartres)Sylvain Dhenin (Maison de l’Orient et de la Méditerranée)Henri Duday (CNRS)Alain Epelboin (CNRS, MNHM)Patrice Georges-Zimmermann (Inrap)Stéphane Hérouin (Direction de l’archéologie, Chartres)Olivier Labat (Service de l’archéologie préventive, CD 28)Sébastien Lepetz (CNRS, MNHM)Émilie Portat (Direction de l’archéologie, Chartres)Géraldine Sachau-Carcel (UMR 5199 - PACEA)Romedio Schmitz-Esser (Université de Gratz)Cécile Treffort (Université de Poitiers)William Van Andringa (EPHE, Paris)Christian Verjux (SRA Centre-Val-de-Loire)

Scientific and financial partners : Ville de ChartresChartres MétropoleInrapDRAC Centre Val-de-Loire

Number of participants : 190