Death and the societies of Late Antiquity

International colloquium organised in Aix-en-Provence on 4 and 5 November 2021 with the support of the Mediterranean Archaeology Institute ARKAIA. Proposals for papers and posters are expected by 31 January 2021.

The considerable transformation of the methodologies deployed in the field and in the laboratory has led to a renewal of questions about the populations and funeral practices of late Antiquity. In addition to the work on the late period and the place of funerary practices in it, the appearance of what is then called Field Anthropology is decisive for the renewal of study problems. Recent research, thanks to the multiplication of archaeological examples, shows a willingness to re-examine and revise the data, both anthropological and archaeological and historical. They increase our knowledge of the treatment of the dead, the place of death among the living, the location of burial areas, or the structure of burials; all these elements vary according to regions and cultures.

These new works, now preferably multidisciplinary, make it possible to question ancient truths and to rekindle reflection on the way in which these ancient societies viewed Death and managed their dead in the context of the multiple changes that took place within the Empire and on its margins.

Late Antiquity stands out for its political, social, economic and cultural developments. This period of profound societal changes saw the coexistence of Roman institutions and new social structures, notably those stemming from the nascent Christian religion. The societies of Late Antiquity thus reveal a mosaic of political, social and cultural entities, both in the heart of the Empire's provinces and in their neighbouring regions.

Does this plurality of situations also express itself in funeral practices? What are the elements that make it possible to identify and define this diversity, and to what extent can we really understand the living conditions of ancient communities and their potential transformations based on funerary practices? Between the early centuries of the Roman Empire and the late period, what degree of continuity or change in population and cultural dynamics do these practices reveal?

A specific reflection on the world of the dead, on a large geographical and thematic scale and in all its disciplinary plurality, is therefore now necessary. Anthropology and its correlated sciences (biology, archaeo-thanatology, biochemistry) are called upon to find a privileged place, associated with archaeological, historical, environmental and societal approaches. It is to the examination of this set of questions that the two days for which we are disseminating this call for papers will be devoted.

The research themes addressed in the proposals can then be as diverse as :

  • The relationship between land use and land law and the installation of funeral areas
  • The expression of social identity in death
  • The plurality of cultures and community in the perception of death, the body and the grave
  • The Reorganization of The Empire and Funeral Practices
  • Relationships between categories of the population in the expression of funeral practices
  • Populations: constitutions, evolution, pluralities

These themes can be approached from archaeo-anthropological, biological, historical, archaeological, topographical and societal angles. Multidisciplinary studies are particularly expected, whether synthetic or case studies.


The languages of the symposium are French and English. Proposals for oral or poster communications (in English, or in English and French) should be submitted in the following languages before January 31, 2021 at the following address: They should mention the title of the paper (in English or in English and French), the list of authors, their institutional affiliation and respective contact details, an abstract (in English or in English and French) of 1800 characters for posters or 3000 characters for oral communications, a biography of the authors (in English or in English and French) of 1000 characters.

Oral presentations will be 15 minutes followed by 10-15 minutes of discussion. We ask that the powerpoint support of the communication be written in English, even if it is in French. Posters will be in English.

Organizing Committee

Gaëlle Granier (Archaeo-anthropologist, CNRS Research Fellow, UMR 7268 ADES), Charlotte Boyer (Doctoral student in archaeo-anthropology, University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, UMR 7041 ArScan - UMR 7206 EAE), Elisabeth Anstett (Anthropologist, CNRS Research Director, UMR 7268 ADES).

Keynote speakers

Alexandra Chavarria-Arnau (Università degli Studi di Padova, Padova) and Eric Rebillard (Cornell University, New York).

Scientific Committee

Llorenç Alapont-Martin (University of Valencia, Spain), Elisabeth Anstett (UMR 7268 ADES, Aix-Marseille University, Marseille), Reine-Marie Bérard (UMR 7299 CCJ, Aix-Marseille University, Aix-en-Provence), Brigitte Boissavit-Camus (University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, UMR 7041 ArScan, Paris), Charlotte Boyer (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, UMR 7041 ArScan - UMR 7206 EAE, Paris), Isabelle Cartron (University of Bordeaux, UMR 5607 Ausonius, Bordeaux), Dominique Castex (UMR 5199 PACEA, University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux), Olivier De Cazanove (University of Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, UMR 7041 ArScan, Paris), Alexandra Chavarria-Arnau (Università degli Studi di Padova, Padova), Gaëlle Granier (UMR 7268 ADES, Aix-Marseille University, Marseille), Sacha Kacki (UMR 5199 PACEA, University of Bordeaux, Bordeaux), Chiara Maria Lambert (Università degli Studi di Salerno, Salerno), Nicolas Laubry (Ecole Française de Rome, Rome), Michel Lauwers (UMR 7264 CEPAM, University of Nice-Sophia-Antipolis, Nice), Anne Nissen (University Paris 1 Panthéon-Sorbonne, UMR 7041 ArScan, Paris), Eric Rebillard (Cornell University, New York), Pascal Sellier (UMR 7206 EAE, Musée de l'Homme, Paris).

Contact information

Questions and proposals


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funerary archaeology
biological anthropology
late antiquity
funeral practices, mortuary practices