Vast public complex discovered at Gallo-Roman site of Ambrussum in southern France


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The archaeological excavations carried out since the beginning of the year at the archaeological site of Ambrussum in Villetelle, southern France, have revealed a large Roman administrative complex consisting of a paved square bordered by porticos dating to the first century BC.

Vast public complex discovered at Gallo-Roman site of Ambrussum in southern France
Excavations at the archaeological site of Ambrussum carried out in August 2018 
[Credit: Metropolitan]

For more than 40 years, archaeological research has been advancing our knowledge of Ambrussum, close to the modern town Lunel, on the edge of the Hérault and Gard rivers. The first campaigns of these excavations, conducted by Jean-Luc Fiches and his teams over 40 years, revealed the existence of a later Romanized Gallic oppidum (fortified village) of nearly six hectares in area, protected by a massive enclosure.

Numerous remains of houses were discovered here, a paved road crossing the whole village, and a monumental building interpreted as a civil basilica. Later campaigns were concentrated at the foot of the hill, revealing a staging post for the Imperial mail crossed by the famous Via Domitia, with all the amenities necessary for travellers: inns, baths, forge and other industrial buildings.

Vast public complex discovered at Gallo-Roman site of Ambrussum in southern France
Aerial rview of the Ambrussum site [Credit: DR]

Since 2016, Dr. Maxime Scrinzi and his team have been excavating the public centre of the oppidum in order to determine the organisation and layout of the site and, above all, its status after the Roman settlement of the area in 120 BC.

“Ambrussum is basically a Gallic agglomeration with a rampart dating from the end of the 4th or beginning of the 3rd century BC, then gradually, we discover various changes in architecture and lifestyles,” explains Scrinzi. “Our aim was to find out if the basilica, discovered during previous campaigns, was part of a larger monumental centre.”

Vast public complex discovered at Gallo-Roman site of Ambrussum in southern France
The area stripped by the archaeologists in front of the basilica of Ambrussum
revealing part of the paved forum [Credit: DR]

“In 2018, after two years of intensive excavations and with few new finds to show for it, the situation has finally changed. The walls have now been cleared to a significant depth, revealing the precise architectural layout of the site, which has in turn confirmed that Ambrussum did indeed possess a central forum. And this is new.”

“In the vicinity of this complex, sections of secondary roads have also been uncovered, making it possible to better understand the town’s road network.”

“These finds show an adoption by the Gallic population of the Roman way of life and this forum is the perfect illustration”, said the archaeologist.

However, the oppidum has yet to reveal all its secrets. Indeed, 95% of the site at the top of the hill is still to be explored .

Source: e-Metropolitan & FranceInfo3 [August 25, 2018]



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