Delémont - En la Pran, last of the many archaeological sites discovered along the section of the A16 motorway linking the towns of Porrentruy and Delémont, was the object of extensive excavations directed by Nicole Pousaz between 1996 and 2002. This large site, located in the flood plain of the La Pran stream at a mean altitude of 426 m, revealed traces of repeated occupations dating to the Mesolithic, Neolithic, Bronze Age and Iron Age.

This second of four volumes (CAJ 22 to 25) assembled after ten years of an interdisciplinary research program directed by the same person is entirely dedicated to the small Late Bronze Age cremation cemetery or urnfield. Excavated in two phases, at the beginning of the dig in February 1996 and during August 1998, the cemetery comprises thirty-five graves and four partial funerary deposits. Seventeen other features, situated within or immediately adjacent to the cemetery, are also included in this publication. The absence of more recent features and the low density of artefacts in the archaeological layer A3 argue in favour of a chronological homogeneity of the archaeological remains located in this sector, dated to the Halstatt B1 phase.

Given the strict planning constraints imposed on the fieldwork and the mediocre conservation of the features, it was decided that all graves should be lifted as blocks with the surrounding sediment and excavated later in the laboratory. This allowed the application of clearly defined excavation and documentation methods and provided optimal conditions for the conservation and restoration of the finds. The scientific potential of these little features could thus be exploited in full. The methods used are described in chap. 2.

The detailed catalogue of all the features is at the heart of this volume and is presented in chap. 3. The presentation follows a model introduced at the beginning of the chapter. For each grave we have first described its state of preservation, followed by a presentation of its principal elements as observed during the careful excavation of the blocks. There follows a hypothetical reconstruction of the original form of the funeral deposit, whose accuracy depends largely on the preservation of the feature. The principal anthropological data and a comprehensive inventory of the finds complete the presentation. It is illustrated by various plans and sections, drawings of most of the finds and, whenever both the complexity of the feature and our understanding of its origins permitted, a graphical reconstruction of the initial deposit.

The study of the human remains forms the subject of chap. 4. Through the application of tested methods for the study of cremated remains, demographic parameters, anatomical variations and pathologies as well as the characteristics of the bone can be examined. The minimal number of individuals varies between 38 and 41, according to whether or not the bone fragments found in the four partial deposits are included. Most of the graves are single, as only three contained the remains of more than one person. The demographic profile of the cremated population appears to correspond to a normal prehistoric community; all age groups are represented and the proportion of young children is relatively high. The analysis of discrete characteristics and pathologies throws some light on the relationships and the state of health of this little community, considered representative of the late Bronze Age population of the Jura region.

The two parts of chapter 5 present the analyses of the various finds, the first section treating the pottery, the second section the ornaments and tools. The 156 pots found in the graves are classified and described according to their shape and decoration. The comparison with late Bronze Age assemblages from the lake shore villages of both western and eastern Switzerland as well as from terrestrial sites in southern Germany, Alsace, Franche-Comté and Burgundy show close parallels to early Hallstatt B1 assemblages from the lake shore villages of the Swiss Plateau. The function of these pots and their role in the funeral ceremony is examined; traces of fire may well speak of an eventual placement on the funeral pyre. While all of the tombs contain pottery, including the one earth burial, ornaments and tools were only found in fourteen graves. They are represented by 43 bronze, 1 clay, 1 shale and 6 bone or antler objects, as well as 34 glass and 1 clay beads. Here are again close parallels are found to finds from the lake side villages of the Swiss Plateau dating to the early Hallstatt B1 phase, between 1050 and 1000 BC. This chronological homogeneity of the pottery and the other finds is neither contradicted by the relative chronology of the features nor by the 14C dates, although these do cover a larger span.

After the description of the individual tombs and the analysis of their contents, we attempt a global approach to the cemetery as a whole. The architecture of the graves, the composition of the grave goods, the sequence of deposit and the spatial organisation of the deposited objects are all examined and compared. A classification of the graves is proposed, based on the models advanced by Patrick Moinat and Mireille David-Elbiali and by Yannick Prouin, but adapted to the particularities observed at Delémont-En la Pran. The four main tomb categories are based on the three-dimensional placement of the grave goods, the location of the bone fragments and the disposition of the cremation residue. The singular disposition of various objects and of cremation residue implies the use of wooden boxes or separations, as well as the presence of flexible or rigid containers made of perishable materials. In spite of the limited size of the cemetery and the smallness and comparative poverty of its tombs, great care was taken during the burial and a repetitive use of certain practices linked probably to the social status of the departed could be observed. The spatial disposition of the various tombs within the urnfield also reveals an underlying organizing principle : the location of the deceased corresponded apparently to their age, which also appears to have determined the presence or absence of cremation residue. Adults and adolescents are generally found in the eastern half of the cemetery, the children in its western half.

The results provided by the environmental and material sciences are presented in chap. 9. Micromorphology and geoarchaeology are used to explore the taphonomy of selected tombs. The physical and chemical analysis of the imported glass beads and shale bracelet identified the origin of these objects and serves to illustrate the extensive exchange networks active during the late Bronze Age. Finally, botanical remains, wood charcoal and faunal remains are identified and described.

All of the numerous data collected within the multidisciplinary framework characterising both the excavation itself and the subsequent research project is reviewed and synthesized in the final chapter 10. We've used a somewhat more literate and hopefully more readable style to describe the gestures and rites used by the living inhabitants of the village of Delémont-En la Pran towards their dead, between 1050 and 1000 BC. A table at the end of this chapter lists the main characteristics of each tomb, rendering the detailed information contained in the catalogue more accessible to the scientific community.

Translation: Robert Fellner