Villas in the Roman city of Béziers

It is highly likely that the Loupian Villa was part of the Roman colony of Béziers. Archaeological surveys have identified more than two hundred such villa sites in the eastern part of the city. Examination of their distribution patterns provides interesting social data about how the upper classes and their way of life left a lasting mark on the countryside, as well as the extent of their urban heritage. Distribution maps drawn up based on these surveys also highlight an economic dimension, as the villas were a primary source of supply for the urban population.

The highest concentration of villas appear within a five-kilometre radius of Béziers, and their numbers decrease steadily as the distance from the centre increases – as a mapping by density clearly shows. We may advance various theories by comparison with the situations of cities in the pre-industrial era as described in archival sources. If we factor in grain production capacity, two hypotheses are likely. To provide for the city's needs – if we imagine high-yield harvests – the food-producing perimeter would be a limited one, close to where the villas are the most numerous. In a less advantageous scenario, the space required for feeding the urban population would be the widest villa distribution zone.

Medias

Map of villa sites around Béziers


Interactive document - Excavation of a farm along a motorway being built

Excavation of a farm along a motorway being built

The Montferrier Villa in Tourbes during a 2007 exacavation prior to the construction of a section of the A75 motorway between Pézenas and Béziers.
© INRAP MRW Zeppeline Provence