Villa research today is undergoing profound changes, sweeping away outmoded concepts that had for some time marred the study of this type of site. Estate farming is now a promising avenue in archaeological research.
A recently as two decades ago, discussions were limited to one or two sites per region, but an increasing numbers of excavations have allow researchers to move beyond this situation. Preventive archaeology has played a key role in helping create a real series of villas. Painstaking reconstruction of the individual destinies of these estate-based undertakings will, in time, provide a more solid foundation for conceptualising regional-level changes.
The luxurious parts of villas are no longer the primary focal point. The residence is approached within the framework of extensive open area excavation involving every part of the villa. The fundus is also studied, requiring specialists in geoarchéology and paleoenvironmental research. Investigations are also directed at the distribution of this type of rural site within the context of a region or a city, to the point where a geography of the villa in the provinces of Gaul could be imagined.
The field of study has also been expanded chronologically, if we see the villa not only as a mark of Romanisation, but also as a stage in the domination of the countryside by the upper classes between the end of the Iron Age and the feudal period.