Jewish Funerary Practices in Medieval Europe

Authored by: Philippe Blanchard

The Routledge Handbook of Archaeothanatology

Print publication date:  April  2022
Online publication date:  April  2022

Print ISBN: 9781138492424
eBook ISBN: 9781351030625
Adobe ISBN:


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The archaeological study of the cemeteries of Jewish communities in the medieval period is a difficult subject to address in France as it is in many other European countries. The main reason is related to the rarity of this type of site because Jews represented only a small part of the population in the Middle Ages. For example, in France, historians and demographers estimate that they represented less than 1% of the total population in the 13th and 14th centuries (Schwarzfuchs, 1975: 89; Dupaquier, 1988: 261; Benbassa, 1997: 53). Another difficulty relates to a problem of location and access. Indeed, since the Jewish communities were definitively expelled from the Kingdom of France in 1394, the cemeteries, located on the immediate outskirts of cities, have been abandoned and forgotten over the centuries. In addition, the expansion of urban centres since the 19th century has often led to the re-use and sometimes destruction of burial remains by buildings that now seal access and prevent further investigation.

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