The Mindset of the People of Saint Denis

            One of the aspects of Saint Denis that I found most interesting was the cemetery buried underneath the church. Even before the building of the church there was a cemetery located at that site. I thought it was very interesting that although the first cemetery site came from the Neolithic period, peoples of later times still found it important to use the space as a place to honor their dead. No matter how many years apart the works or art are that we study, honoring the dead seems to be a common theme running through human history.

            However, just as the people of Morbihan showed what they valued or perhaps needed by placing axes and shields into the tombs of their dead, the people of Saint Denis showed a much greater shift towards materialism and luxury good. After the development of commerce in Lattes, the availability of goods continued to increase. Thus, it was somewhat expected that the people of Saint Denis would be buried with different items, however I was not expecting them to be buried with jewels and gold and silver. Furthermore we see that honoring the dead, although important, perhaps becomes less important during this time period because there is evidence that sometimes more than one body had been buried in a sarcophagi. I definitely feel as though this is a more modern trend. Instead of creating a new elaborate resting place, the people would have seen the utility of using one that another person occupied for the sake of making life easier. Perhaps that wasn’t the reason for placing more than one body in a tomb, but somehow I can’t see the great tombs of Morbihan containing more than one person per tomb or simply not creating a resting place for someone because it would be too much work.

            Lastly, I found it intriguing that although there was extensive excavation; archeologists do not know much about the early layout of town. It seemed that for many years, land plots were not developed or were used sporadically over short periods of time and that the streets were rather fluid. This contrasts sharply with planned and stoic town of Lattes that we studied previously. In Lattes, it is very easy to see where each road was built and why. I find that I’m wondering why the people of Saint Denis didn’t build their houses with stone or create a much more defined and permanent city early on.

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