‘Little Pompeii’ uncovered in southeast France
Published: Aug 02, 2017 05:33 PM
A "little Pompeii" is how French archaeologists are describing an entire ancient Roman neighborhood uncovered on the outskirts of the southeastern city of Vienne, featuring remarkably preserved remains of luxury homes and public buildings.

"We're unbelievably lucky. This is undoubtedly the most exceptional excavation of a Roman site in 40 or 50 years," said Benjamin Clement, the archaeologist leading the dig on the banks of the Rhone river, about 30 kilometers south of Lyon.

The city of Vienne - famous for its Roman theater and temple - was an important hub on the route connecting northern Gaul with the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis in southern France.

The site unearthed on land awaiting construction of a housing complex covers an area of nearly 7,000 square meters - an unusually large discovery in an urban area that has been labelled an "exceptional find" by the French culture ministry.

The neighborhood, which contains homes dating to the 1st century AD, is believed to have been inhabited for around 300 years before being abandoned after a series of fires.

Many of the objects in place when the inhabitants fled were conserved, transforming the area into a "real little Pompeii in Vienne," according to Clement, referring to the Roman city-state that was largely preserved after being buried by volcanic ash.

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