Child was buried at beginning of first century surrounded by vases and animal offerings
French archaeologists have hailed the “exceptional” discovery of the 2,000-year-old remains of a child buried with animal offerings and what appears to have been a pet dog.
The child, believed to have been around a year old, was interred at the beginning of the first century, during Roman rule, in a wooden coffin 80cm long made with nails and marked with a decorative iron tag.
The coffin was placed in a 2 metre by 1 metre grave and surrounded by around 20 objects including a number of miniature terracotta vases and glass pots thought to have contained oils and medicines, half a pig, three hams and other cuts of pork, and two headless chickens.
The burial tomb was uncovered during a dig at a site at Clermont-Ferrand airport, in central France, to enable a development project to go ahead.
Archaeologists said they also found an ornamental copper pin used to attach a shroud, and a 30cm iron ring attached to a bent metal rod, believed to be a toy. The end of the rod had been slipped between the legs of a puppy placed at the feet of the deceased outside the coffin. The young animal was wearing a collar with bronze decorations and fitted with a small bell.
Those at the dig said they were particularly moved to find a milk tooth belonging to an older child, who may have been a sibling of the infant, placed on a fragment of broken shell.