Eat, drink, adorn, perfume for eternity

Since its foundation, the Gaaf’s life is punctuated by the organisation of an annual thematic meeting. Beside those conferences, the association invites now its members and supporters to take part to more informal workshops: the Rendez-vous. To launch them, the Gaaf joined ANR MAGI program in 2016 to organize two workshops and a symposium on the following theme:

Eat, drink, adorn, perfume for the eternity. Biological offerings to the dead from the Neolithic to the modern time.

November 10, 2016: Workshop at Bretagne Sud University (Lorient): Aromatic substances, cosmetics and magical-medicinal for the dead (Download the program).

March 10, 2017: Workshop at Aix-Marseille University: The funerary banquet and food offerings (Download the program).

November 15-16, 2018: Conference at La Rochelle University: The flower, the pig, the bottle and the corpse: ecofacts and artefacts in funerary scenography (Download the program).

Scientific presentation

In archaeology, funerary rituals are always complex to grasp, to reconstruct and to understand. The work undertaken on this theme several decades ago has revealed the complexity of ceremonies where the creation of the grave is only a stage. Other phases of the ritual, such as the preparation of the body, the treatment of remains from the pyre in the event of a cremation, funerary and commemoration rituals, are often poorly documented while organic substances rarely stand the test of time. Among these, the biological offerings (vegetal/floral, food, cosmetics, aromatics, medicines, magic therapeutics) create many identification and interpretation issues in the funerals or commemorations. The manipulation, the consumption, the deposit of materials and biological products in the form of libation, the ornamentation (flower carpet, vegetal wreaths, etc.) punctuate the funerals and celebrations, with a codified gesture where liquids like tears, blood, milk, wine, oil, perfume, flow for the dead, while the food offerings can be very diverse (raw or cooked eggs, bread, pancakes, raw or cooked birds, pieces of meat, stews, etc.). Sometimes terracotta versions symbolically replace the real food while some perfume bottles deposited in the grave could have always been empty, as evidenced by different content analysis campaigns. Many of the deposits belong to the biological sphere. Their identification is a challenge met for several decades through interdisciplinary work. The limits of the indiscernible are thus disappearing thanks to new interdisciplinary protocols. Beyond the identification of biological substances, this scientific meeting focuses on their preparation, the actions associated with the deposit and the staging of funerary places.

Litterature, epigraphy and iconography will be crossed with archaeological and archeometric sources in order to reach a better understanding of the place of the materials and biological substances in the funerary practices, from the Neolithic to the modern time.

The papers given during these three scientific events will be published in 2019. Works in progress, works by master or PhD students are welcome.

The communication proposals for the November conference (title, abstract and presentation of the author) must be send before September 15, 2018 to this address:

Organizing committee: Dominique Frère (UBS, Témos), Laurent Hugot (CRHIA, ULR), Solenn de Larminat (research associate CCJ), Laurence Tranoy (LIENSs, ULR).

For further information: