Lighthearted sounds of conversations once rose over the echoing water of the private pool room in an ancient Roman villa.
That is, until the villa’s once-grand spaces began to quiet as its inhabitants vanished and its structure fell into disrepair.
Archaeologists excavating a cemetery in Lure, France, uncovered the abandoned villa, revealing a glimpse of its long-gone splendor, the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research said in a May 5 news release.
The villa was occupiedbetween the first and third centuries A.D. before being abandoned, the release said. The countryside estate had its own private bathhouse with hot, cold and warm rooms. The structure also had a private cold water pool, which was largely dismantled.
Overlapping layers of ruins show the thermal bathhouse had been rearranged and modified several times. At one point a fourth room was added, archaeologists said. A wooden pipe was also unearthed from the ruins.
Imprints of a hypocaust system — a type of heating system that involved numerous small pillars underneath the floor — were still visible to archaeologists, the release said. Photos show the rearranged furnace room that heated the hypocausts.
Fragments of a mosaic and multi-colored plaster revealed the high-quality construction of the nearly 2,000-year-old villa.
The ancient Roman empire began invading modern-day France in the second century B.C., according to Britannica. By 50 B.C., they took control of the region and named it Gaul.
In the countryside, the “mark” of Roman control emerged “in the shape of villas,” according to Britannica. These villas were more like “manor houses” than palaces, functioning as “working farms” and “Romanized country residences.”
The Roman empire’s control over Gaul began to waver around 250 A.D. due to an “empirewide crisis” of invaders and political instability, per Britannica. The now-French countryside became “prey to marauding peasants.”
The ancient Romans finally relinquished control of France in the late 400s as the Merovingian era began, per Britannica.
During this period, the villa in Lure became the site of a cemetery, the release said. Inhabitants of nearby villages were buried on top of the ruined villa until the 1550s to early 1600s.
Archaeologists have unearthed about 140 burials from the cemetery, the release said. A photo shows one of these burials near a villa wall.
The 1,700-year-old villa was located in the 18th century and partially excavated in the 1970s and 80s, the release said. The most recent excavations began in March ahead of construction of a private home.
Lure is about 230 miles southeast of Paris and near the France-Switzerland-Germany border.
Google Translate was used to translate the news release from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap).