The Gallo-Roman settlement of Chambon
Below the Chambon plains, in a place known as les Olivoux, hides a Gallo-Roman site that is invisible nowadays.
This archaeological site was first discovered in the 18th century. At the time it was believed to be a Gallo-Roman villa rustica, a rich agricultural estate with numerous other buildings. Recent research led by Inrap, the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research, meant a much more significant grouping could be identified. In reality, it was a secondary Gallo-Roman settlement.
In the 2nd century B.C., the Petrucorii, Gallic peoples living in the Vézère Valley, created a village here, which they developed over time into a small market town. It was a busy centre for trade and commerce located on major road and river trading routes and connected to the rest of the ancient world. Transport was made possible due to its proximity to the Vézère river.
Wine imported from Italy in amphoras was sold there. During Antiquity, glass containers from Egypt, the Middle East and Italy could be found here, as well as ceramics from southern Italy. Some of the currencies collected were very rare in the Roman world. Among the objects unearthed was the head of a statue with a forehead adorned with three horns, likened to the Roman god Bacchus.
The settlement was organised in a very logical manner around streets with a rectangular design that marked out blocks and formed a regular pattern. Archaeologists pinpointed the position of a possible marketplace, close to what was likely the artisanal quarter. In the neighbouring, more residential quarter, some homes doubled as artisans’ workshops and/or storefronts.
The settlement also had a sanctuary. Its traditional Gallo-Roman temple, a fanum in a circular design, is similar to that of the tour de Vésone tower in Périgueux but on a smaller scale. A second, smaller temple sits alongside the sanctuary.
Another area could have been thermal baths, but this is still to be determined.