Archaeologists Unearth Roman Relics
Approximately 30 kilometers south of Lyon, in the town of Vienne, archaeologists have discovered remains of an elaborate home, a school, a marketplace and workshops. The ruins are dated back to the first century and are believed to have been in use for 300 years. At that time fires struck and the area was abandoned. Despite the flames and smoke, mosaic tile floors and sections of architecture have been discovered in recoverable condition. Benjamin Clement, the lead archaeologist on site, is enthusiastic about the find and foresees a complete restoration of at least one building which is believed to have been owned by a wealthy merchant. He and other archaeologists agree that the site is "a real little Pompeii in Vienne."
The urban site sits on what was once a major trade route between northern Gaul and southern France. The merchant's home has been described as "sumptuous" and nicknamed The Bacchanalian House due to the tile mosaic floor depicting satyrs and female followers of the god Bacchus, also known as Dionysis. The floor is only one element that Clement plans to reconstruct. There is evidence of a large garden, a private water system, balustrades and other features which Clement will use to "...restore the house from floor to ceiling."
Other buildings in the area include what is believed to have been a philosophy school and a public building with a fountain featuring a sculpture of Hercules. The excavations were expected have been completed in early autumn, but the number of ruins and relics have prompted the French Culture Ministry to extend the time frame. Clement has a team of 20 individuals who are prepared to dig and sift throughout the 7,000 square meter site. The next area scheduled for excavation is one that contains workshops and could provide valuable information about trade products and skilled labor.
All mosaics are being removed from the site for restoration. Their revitalization is expected to be complete in 2019 when they will be exhibited at the Vienne museum.
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