A "Little Pompeii" Is Currently Being Excavated In France


Tom Hale

Tom is a writer in London with a Master's degree in Journalism whose editorial work covers anything from health and the environment to technology and archaeology.

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Archoleogists working hard on the site on July 31. JEAN-PHILIPPE KSIAZEK/AFP/Getty Images 

Archaeologists have uncovered a “petit Pompeii” in Sainte-Colombe, near the city of Vienne in France, revealing the long-lost life of an ancient Roman city that was gradually abandoned during a series of catastrophes.

Although the city was subject to considerable destruction, the team of researchers from Archeodunum discovered that the 7,000-square-meter (75,000-square-foot) site is in remarkably good shape. The dig started in April and is expected to continue into December, so there’s still a huge amount left to discover.


One of the main finds is a grand villa they have named “Bacchanalian House” after the God of wine and festivities Bacchus, originally called Dionysus by the Greeks. Along with marble floors, gardens, and a plumbing system, the multi-story house features floor mosaics that depict Bacchus and the half-man, half-goat mythical creatures called satyrs, who were associated with the God. This level of decadence has led the archaeologists to believe it was once home to a wealthy merchant.

The house is in such good condition, the archeologists say they will be able to completely reconstruct the building.

They have also discovered a public bath with a statue of Hercules and a fountain, as well as another vast floor mosaic adorned with the mythological figures of Pan and Thalia.

“We’re unbelievably lucky,” team leader Benjamin Clément told AFP news agency. "This is undoubtedly the most exceptional excavation of a Roman site in 40 or 50 years,


He added that it's like a “real little Pompeii in Vienne."


Ok, so there’s no people immortalized in ash like the original Pompeii. However, this discovery is being hailed as one of the biggest and most significant finds from the Roman-era for decades.

Found just a 40-minute drive from the city of Lyon in eastern France, the archeological site of Sainte-Colombe has been known about since the 19th century. It was established as a Roman settlement in 47 BCE, just a few years before the assassination of Julius Caesar, and was originally known as “Vienna”. During its prime, the city is believed to have been home to dozens of shops, artisan workshops, warehouses, quays, philosophy schools, gymnasiums, and homes.

The Roman settlement blossomed for at least 300 years until it eventually succumbed to a series of fires.


"It's a marketplace that has been totally burned down, so you can find all the elements in the shops that the craftsmen had left behind to escape the flames," Clément told Turkish news agency Anadolu Agency.