Sometime in the year 1 A.D., a fire razed a small neighbourhood in the Roman city of Vienne, about 20 miles south of Lyon. The fire was so hot and moved so fast that the inhabitants had to abandon their homes and belongings and flee. They left it perfectly preserved for the future.
Fast forward about two millennia later and a housing development has chosen the spot where the neighbourhood stood as their new construction site. According to French law, the land had to undergo an archaeological inspection and survey by a third party. In April, the company, Archeodunum, announced they had found several sculptures meters underground.
It turns out the neighbourhood wasn’t hit with just one fire, but several over the course of the following centuries. The intensity and heat of the first fire had, ironically, preserved aspects of the area very well: the buildings were made with fired brick, which won’t crumble under heat, and the heat protected the iron from corrosion.
Archeologists found streets, mosaics, homes, shops, even multi-story buildings. Homes had wine jugs, and even a preserved wood chest containing the armour of a roman soldier.
“This is an exceptional chance to analyze the houses of rich and poor alike, and study the architecture of multi-story buildings”
– Benjamin Clément, Archeodunum archaeologist
There’s more stories from 2017. Check out the Best of 2017 series here