Le double enclos funéraire fossoyé du Bronze ancien des Marais (commune de Puyréaux, Charente, France) Article - Décembre 2022

Anne-Sophie Coupey, José Gomez de Soto, Christophe Maitay

Anne-Sophie Coupey, José Gomez de Soto, Christophe Maitay, « Le double enclos funéraire fossoyé du Bronze ancien des Marais (commune de Puyréaux, Charente, France)  », Bulletin de la Société préhistorique française, décembre 2022, pp. 635-662. ISSN 0249-7638

Dans le Nord de la Charente, sur le bassin versant de la Bonnieure, le site des Marais à Puyréaux est une occupation de type « complexe cultuel à enclos fossoyés » qui s’étend sur un peu plus de deux hectares. Les prospections aériennes et géophysiques mettent en évidence dix-sept monuments circulaires et cinq quadrangulaires, carrés et rectangulaires, ainsi que de nombreuses autres traces plus ou moins identifiables, structures excavées et construites. En cumulant les données fournies à la fois par les découvertes anciennes, les différentes prospections et les deux campagnes de fouilles programmées – fouilles pourtant très partielles, de moins d’un dixième des vestiges identifiés – le site apparaît fréquenté depuis l’âge du Bronze ancien jusqu’à l’époque gallo-romaine, sans ou peu de hiatus chronologiques, à l’image de sites comme Antran dans la Vienne ou Périgny en Charente-Maritime, utilisés depuis le Chalcolithique jusqu’à la période gallo-romaine. Aux Marais, les monuments fossoyés semblent s’organiser les uns par rapport aux autres, sans aucun recoupement, indiquant une pérennité, au moins visuelle, des aménagements antérieurs aux nouveaux. Si la question de la vocation funéraire se pose pour nombre de sites à enclos, ici, elle trouve une réponse claire avec les deux tombes mises au jour au centre de l’enclos à double fossé. Le creusement du fossé principal de ce monument, contemporain de l’implantation de la première sépulture à inhumation, fut réalisé au Bronze ancien, entre le xixe et la première moitié du xviiie s. av. J.-C. ; son comblement eut lieu sur le long terme, jusqu’au Bronze final, soit sur une durée d’un millénaire environ. Au regard de la variété des structures présentes sur le site, des pratiques diverses, peut-être pas toujours funéraires, y ont vraisemblablement eu cours au fil du temps.

Les Marais in Puyréaux is a ritual complex with ditched enclosures spread over a little more than two hectares located on the watershed of the Bonnieure in the North of the Charente. Aerial and geophysical surveys show 17 circular and 5 quadrangular monuments, as well as numerous other more or less identifiable archaeological features. The data from old discoveries, surveys and two very partial programmed excavations indicate that the site was occupied almost continually from the early Bronze Age to the Roman period. This timeframe is similar to sites such as Antran, in Vienne or Perigny, in Charente-Maritime that date from the Chalcolithic to the Roman period. On the site of Les Marais, the spatial organisation of the ditched enclosures sees no overlap indicating that the older monuments were still visible when the newer enclosures were built. Unlike other monumental sites, this site is clearly a cemetery as two burials were found inside a double ditched enclosure. The first burial dating from 1900 to 1740 BC is that of an adult of undetermined sex housed in a quadrangular pit with rounded corners. The individual lay on their left side in a flexed position in a covered wooden container surrounded by limestone blocks. A later burial dating from 1890 to 1680 BC cut the first burial above and slightly to the northeast. A number of stones from the first grave were “borrowed” to construct the later burial that probably contains a female with their head towards the west-north-west. This grave was reopened between 1730 - 1690 and 1510 BC, to bury a young adult (probably male) top to tail compared to the previous body the bones of which were placed at one end of the pit to make way for the new burial. The only preserved artefact is a bone pendant found under the skull in the female burial. The main ditch of this monument dug to enclose the first burial, dates to the Early Bronze Age. Pottery found in the different layers of the fill indicate that it was backfilled gradually over a long period and completely filled in by the Late Bronze Age. There are three stratigraphic phases. The first layer at the bottom of the fill, devoid of any artefact, was formed from the erosion of the sandy and gravely cut of the ditch. The second layer contained the oldest pottery sherds (but no complete vessels), deposited intentionally or not. The assemblage includes several sherds from large presentation plates but mainly sherds from cooking and storage vessels. The most notable artefact is a disc cut in a thick potsherd from a large vessel and seems to be the oldest discovery for this kind of object. The third and last fill provides most of the pottery that is not chronologically homogeneous. The pottery dates from three phases of the Bronze Age : a fragment from a rounded bottom vessel dates to the Middle Bronze Age, a fragment from a plate dates to the Late Bronze Age Ib-IIa/BzD1b-Ha A1 and another plate fragment to the Late Bronze Age IIIa-IIIb/Ha B1-B2-3. Regarding the circular enclosures, architectural transformations such as the building of a crown of stones on top of the main ditch could underline a change of the monument’s function from funerary to ritual. The variety of features on the Marais site, could indicate the change in use of the site over time, such as the original large sub-rectangular ditched enclosure of unknown function (33m on 20 m) similar to the Late Bronze Age Langgräbe. It has an « entrance with antenna » on one of its short sides with two curved advances and central interruption. This feature has yet to be excavated or dated.

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