Montmaurin - Site de la commune
The Gallo-Roman House
The Gallo-Roman House
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This is the term the Romans used to designate the masters residence from other farm buildings. It was generally built in the most agreable place, a luxury residence, especially by the end of the third Century.
There was no fixed style, but frely copied all the essential rooms found in a "DOMUS", a roman town house.
The master frequently asked fot interior gardens, landscaped grounds and gymnasiums. Built in front of swimming pools in thermal Spring, with a Southwest aspect, in order to recieve continous sun just from its rising to its setting, the essence of refinement and sophistication, this is the Villa Montmaurin, transformed into a veritable Greec-Roman palace with two peristyles representing over 1,5 hectars of land.
Six ponds contained reconstituted seawater where oysters and other shellfish were conserved (22 different varietys of which were found during excavation).
Historical outline :
After fifteen years of research the chronological traces of antiquity on this site can be summarised as follows :
In the reign of either Claudius or Nero, towards the mid first Century Ad, a Roman with a considerable fortune, became the owner of property of a thousand hectares situated in an alluvial basin which he set about cultivating.
In the middle of this land and surrounded by woods, he built a very large villa which covered the entire levelled-out area. Around a central construction 178 x 130 meters in size there were
a least twenty to thirty farm buildings laid out in rows parallel to the river and to the central patways.
A boundary wall surrounded three sides of this area of 20 hectares along the river.
After more than 150 years of prosperity the area was abandoned no doubt due to heavy flooding which destroyed building cattle and food reserves. Modifications appear to have taken place towards the mid third Century Ad possibly after a change of ownership.
Instead of the original construction, whose usefulness had been outgrown by an increase in the amount of farmland, small farms appeared scattered throughout the areas under cultivation. This type of holding replaced the "provincial villa". The large central edifice was then only used as the master's residence.
A period of renovation dating from around 330 Ad transformed it into a luxurious mansion filled with paintings, mosaïcs and decorations with marble from Saint Beat.
Around 350 Ad a second phase of renovation in the main building was carried out. This involted the construction of large entrance gates, a temple and different elevated sections which made up a very beautiful architectural whole comparable to that of the most famous houses of classical antiquity.
At a later period after a fire, the fountains and pools disappeared as well as the water distribution system ; the tiles used in the transformation of the gardens were dug up, the temple was rebuilt and the marble reused.
Around 375 - 380 Ad, the whole edifice was destroyed by fire.
Villa gallo-romaine de Montmaurin
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