Two centuries of research in France

Archaeologists use the term "villa" to describe a whole series of sites that have been located by aerial or ground-based prospecting, and that have been partially or totally excavated. These rural establishments all have similar characteristics – an agricultural farm with a permanent residential section built according to Roman custom (more romanorum) using floor plans and construction techniques that were in use in the Roman world.

Examination of theCarte Archéologique de la Gaule (Archaeological Map of Gaul), a joint publication of the Académie des Inscriptions et Belles-Lettres and the French Ministry of Culture provides evidence that villa sites attracted the attention of antiquarians since at least the late 18th century. Starting in 1830, Arcisse de Caumont developed a comparative approach to the initial layouts of villas in western France and in England.

After the Second World War, villa excavations became extremely popular among an entire generation of volunteer archaeologists. Up until the 1970s, approved worksites focused primarily on residential mosaics and baths. Stricter requirements and the increasing professionalisation of the discipline meant that new approaches were adopted, even in the face of the persistent notion that it was no longer productive to excavate this type of site.

Medias

Interactive document - Villa Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer (Seine-Maritime)

Villa Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer (Seine-Maritime)

La Butte de Nolent, Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer, excavation of the villa's baths, pastel by Amédée Feret, circa 1840.
© Château-musée de Dieppe
Interactive document - Villa Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer (Seine-Maritime)

Villa Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer (Seine-Maritime)

La Butte de Nolent, Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer, discovery of one of the villa's hypocausts, pastel by Amédée Feret, circa 1840.
© Château-musée de Dieppe
Interactive document - Villa Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer (Seine-Maritime)

Villa Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer (Seine-Maritime)

La Butte de Nolent, Sainte-Marguerite-sur-Mer, detail of one of the villa's mosaics, pastel by Amédée Feret, circa 1840.
© Château-musée de Dieppe
Interactive document - Excavation of the Villa d'Ancy (Aisne)

Excavation of the Villa d'Ancy (Aisne)

Small album following the catalogue of Antique objects from the Prehistoric, Gallic, Roman and Frankish eras, from the Caranda collection by Frédéric Moreau. Gallo-Roman era. Plate XI - 1887. Discovery, in the presence of Frédéric Moreau's family, of a mosaic panel depicting a stag. The group's members include Messrs Millescamp and de Saint Marceaux, well-known archaeologists.
Musée d'archéologie nationale (Bibl.5090) © RMN / Loïc Hamon
Interactive document - Excavation of the Villa d'Ancy (Aisne)

Excavation of the Villa d'Ancy (Aisne)

Small album following the catalogue of Antique objects from the Prehistoric, Gallic, Roman and Frankish eras, from the Caranda collection by Frédéric Moreau. Gallo-Roman era. Plate XII - Excavation of the Villa d'Ancy, 1887. Removal of a mosaic panel for transport to Fère-en-Tardenois.
Musée d'archéologie nationale (Bibl.5090) © RMN / Loïc Hamon
Interactive document - Keradennec Villa, 1973

Keradennec Villa, 1973

Photo: Sanquer. SRA.DRAC Bretagne
Interactive document - Kervennec Villa, 1974

Kervennec Villa, 1974

Community of Pont-Croix. Kervennec Villa, Excavation of the west wing, overview, September 1974.
Photo: Sanquer. SRA.DRAC Bretagne
Interactive document - Pujo-le-Plan Villa, 1984

Pujo-le-Plan Villa, 1984

Excavation of the Pujo-le-Plan Villa, discovery of a mosaic, 1984.
M.-P. Raynaud. BDD Henri Stern UMR 8546 CNRS-ENS
Interactive document - Les Toulons Villa, circa 1990

Les Toulons Villa, circa 1990

Excavation of the wine warehouse of the Les Toulons Villa in Rians, 1990s. Excavation led by Jean-Pierre Brun.
Photo: Jean-Pierre Brun