France Archaeology – Roman period

France Archaeology – Roman period

According to Computergees, the great Gallo-Roman cities have been the subject of excavations even when a modern city has superimposed on them, and often the sad destruction caused by the war has given rise to new research.

a) Southern Gaul. – In Orange, near the theater, a large temple on a podium has been excavated at the end of a hemicycle which must have been part of an immense architectural complex. The sculptures of the scene have been found, depicting a frieze with Dionysian subjects, and some have been put back in place.

In Vaison, two large districts of the city have been brought to light with numerous insulae which allow to study in detail the type of the Greco-Roman house. The walls of these houses are decorated with paintings, some of which depict hunting scenes. Numerous statues also came to light during the excavations.

At La Turbie, the Alps trophy was restored; it was finished in 1934. A museum was also built for the elements of the monument’s decoration which could not be put back in place.

In Marseille, Roman port works have been discovered since 1945; the Roman city extended more than the Greek city towards Lacydon; Italic pottery was abundant. The port works, like those of the host, are made up of rows of dolia (diam. 1.75 m, maximum height 2 m); About fifty have been recovered, some completely buried, others broken and restored by the Romans themselves. These dolia occupied the ground floor of a building whose base was excavated and which must have had an upper floor.

In Saint-Rémy in Provence, a district of the Roman city of Glanum has been brought to light (see, in this App.).

In Cimiez (Nice) excavations were resumed in 1943, highlighting the baths and specifying the plan of the amphitheater, one of the smallest in the Roman world and built in two different eras: the primitive arena dates back to I or II sec. d. C., the steps and corridors are in masonry of the III century. d. C.

In Arles, the cryptoporticus, a vast complex of underground warehouses in freestone, has been partially excavated. The excavation of the Christian cemetery of Aliscamps also continued successfully.

In Vienne a huge theater has been completely excavated which seems to have a sanctuary at the top of the cavea; an odeon has also been identified in the vicinity and several-storey terraces have been excavated which are probably related to the forum.

A large theater has also been excavated in Lyon together with an odeon on the hill of Fourvières, a complex which has so far been unique in Gaul.

In Saint-Bertrand-de-Comminges the sculptures of a trophy joined to the temple of the forum were discovered: on both sides of a marine motif, with the prow of a ship surmounted by a globe and an eagle, are two groups of prisoners and of prisoners symbolizing Gaul and Spain; the monument is attributed to Augustus. Two thermal buildings have been brought to light, one of which is very important, as well as a Christian basilica and an open space that appears to have been a market.

In Toulouse, in the Catholic Institute, an important part of the walls of the lower empire was discovered (1940): the wall is all brick and the foundations on m. 75 in length, are made up of architectural fragments of an older age: bas-reliefs, capitals, parts of statues, shelves, frames.

A much smaller cryptoporticus was excavated in Narbonne than in Arles, built of small elements of soft stone. Next to the church of San Paolo an early Christian necropolis was discovered (1943) on the site of a pagan funerary monument: six beautiful sarcophagi are still in place, one of which bears the pagan symbols of the sun together with the image of the Good Shepherd and the moon.

b) Central and northern Gaul. – The Roman city of Gergovia and Alesia revealed ancient remains more of oppida

Numerous houses have come to light in Alesia; in Gergovia, in addition to the houses, two successive walls attesting that these localities continued to be inhabited after the Roman conquest.

At the Fontaines-Salées near Vézelay an important thermal building was discovered and excavated after 1935 that used springs captured with wooden wells since the Celtic era. The baths, built in the first century. d. C., present in the second century. d. C. bathrooms for men, to which bathrooms for women were later added. Next to the baths, a large fenced area with a portico indicates perhaps a place of worship, but the excavation is not yet finished.

In Paris, the excavations of the Palazzo delle Terme (Cluny Museum), begun in 1947, have specified the plan of the monument whose facade was excavated on the side of the Seine with a main entrance. It seems that this building, the only one well preserved in Lutetia, dates back to the third century at the latest. d. C. and, at least in the central part, was used as a spa.

In Senlis an amphitheater has been excavated and, at the highest point of the city, within the walls of the lower empire, the remains of a fortification from the first period of Roman occupation have been brought to light.

In the north of France no important Roman remains were known until the discovery, in 1942 following the bombings, of an immense cryptoporticus in Bavai: perhaps a set of underground warehouses preserved with their forest of pillars of bluish and white local stone blocks alternating with bricks, for a length of about m. 140. This building has determined an extension of the walls of the lower empire that lean against it and constitutes one of the most beautiful Roman ruins in France. An abundant pottery was found, product of a local factory.

In Strasbourg, in the heart of the city, excavations have been carried out which have made it possible to obtain the plan of the primitive castrum and also to know the topography of the imperial city.

France Archaeology - Roman period