Housing complex construction unearths entire ancient Roman neighbourhood

Archaeologists unearthed remarkably preserved remains of luxury homes and public buildings at Sainte-Colombe by Vienne on the banks of the Rhone river, about 30km south of Lyon, France.

The mosaic uncovered at the site (by Jean-Philippe Ksiazek)

The site unearthed on land awaiting construction of a housing complex covers an area of nearly 7000 square metres. It has already been labelled an “exceptional find” by the French Ministry of Culture. The site contains houses dating to the 1st century AD. It is believed to have been inhabited for around 300 years before being abandoned after a series of fires, which preserved some of the finds and the state in which the Romans lived. Among the structures to have partly survived are an imposing home dubbed the Bacchanalian House after a tiled floor depicting a procession of maenads, or female followers of the god of wine, known as Dionysus or Bacchus, and joyful half-man, half-goat creatures known as satyrs.

Storage jars discovered in one of the Roman houses (by Jean-Philippe Ksiazek)

Archaeologists uncovered remains of a house, believed to have belonged to a wealthy merchant. The fire consumed its first floor, roof and balcony but parts of the collapsed structure survived. It is known that the house contained balustrades, marble tiling, expansive gardens. and a water supply system. In another house, an exquisite mosaic depicts a bare-bottomed Thalia, muse and patron of comedy, being kidnapped by a lustful Pan, god of the satyrs. Among the other finds are a large public building with a fountain adorned by a statue of Hercules, built at the site of a former market. It is believed it housed a philosophy school. At the moment the mosaics are being removed by experts and will be taken away to be restored. After scheduled two years they will be exhibited in Vienne’s museum of Gallo-Roman civilisation.

(after The Guardian, Jean-Philippe Ksiazek & Russian Times)

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