CRUMBEL
CRemation, Urns and Mobility BELgium

Ancient Population Dynamics in Belgium

Belgian collections of cremated remains are plentiful but spread around different Universities, Museums and Institutions. Due to this lack of coherence in the collections, it is, at present, quite complex to comprehensively study these collections. The CRUMBEL project will create a database detailing all these collections, date the most interesting and relevant specimens using radiocarbon dating and will, through isotope analyses, extract information about mobility and lifestyles as well as the evolution of funerary practices in Belgium since the arrival of agriculture in the Neolithic to the decline of the Roman Empire.

The objectives of this project are to bring back to life the important Belgian collections of Neolithic to Early-Medieval cremated bone. This will be done in several steps:

  • Establish a database of the Belgian collections of cremated remains (looking into know existing collections and striving to find forgotten ones)
  • Assess sex and age of the individuals when possible
  • Establish a refined chronology using the existing radiocarbon dates and carrying out new ones
  • Study population dynamics using strontium isotopes
  • Better understand the changes in cremation techniques through time using infrared and X-Ray fluorescence analyses, as well as stable isotope (C & O) analyses
  • Disseminate these results to the wider public through exhibits and other venues (e.g. replication of a cremation open to the public, etc.)

In addition, the CRUMBEL project will establish a map of the biologically available strontium for Belgium that will be useful as a baseline for the strontium isotope ratios obtained from cremated bone. This map will not only be of interest to this project but also to all researchers studying mobility of humans and animals in Belgium.

BB-LAB Team-members