Lit­tle Pom­peii un­ex­pect­edly dis­cov­ered in south of France

Timeless Travels Magazine - - ARCHAEOLOGICAL NEWS -

Fan­tas­tic re­mains of an an­cient Ro­man neigh­bour­hood have been dis­cov­ered in Vi­enne, a small town to the south of Lyon. De­scrib­ing the ru­ins as a ‘real lit­tle Pom­peii in Vi­enne’, Ben­jamin Cle­ment, the ar­chae­ol­o­gist lead­ing the dig said they were ‘un­be­liev­ably lucky’ to dis­cover it whilst dig­ging on a site in­tended for so­cial hous­ing.

Called an ‘ex­cep­tional dis­cov­ery’ by the French cul­ture min­istry, the 7,000 sqm (75,000 sq ft) find in­cludes lux­ury houses and pub­lic build­ings. Ob­jects thought to have been aban­doned by res­i­dents flee­ing fires in the first cen­tury CE have also been re­cov­ered.

“This is un­doubt­edly the most ex­cep­tional ex­ca­va­tion of a Ro­man site in 40 or 50 years,” Cle­ment con­firmed.

One of the houses has ex­cep­tional floor tilings de­pict­ing mae­nads – fe­male fol­low­ers of Diony­sus, the god of wine – and half-man half-goat satyrs, lead­ing it to be named the Bac­cha­na­lian House. The house may have be­longed to a wealthy mer­chant be­fore its first floor, roof and bal­cony were de­stroyed in a fire.

A mo­saic dis­cov­ered in another house de­picts a half naked Thalia, muse and pa­tron of com­edy, be­ing kid­napped by Pan, god of satyrs, whilst in another house there is a statue of Hercules in its foun­tain which ar­chae­ol­o­gists think marked a school of phi­los­o­phy.

Sit­u­ated on the banks of the Rhone river, the city of Vi­enne was on a route con­nect­ing north­ern Gaul with the south­ern prov­ince of Gal­lia Nar­bo­nen­sis. Some finds will be re­stored for an ex­hi­bi­tion in Vi­enne’s mu­seum of Gallo-Ro­man civil­i­sa­tion in 2019.

Ar­chae­ol­o­gists clear­ing soil from the fan­tas­tic mo­saics in Vi­enne

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