2 unknown Gallo-Roman fanums unearthed in Brittany

(ORDO NEWS) — In the north-west of France, archaeologists have found a large temple complex from the time of Roman Gaul.

Employees of the French National Institute for the Protection of Archaeological Research (Inrap) reported on the preliminary results of excavations in the commune of La Chapelle del Fougères, which is located in the Brittany region.

To date, in the territories once called Gaul, archaeologists have discovered many ancient sacred sites. But the new find looks very important even against this background.

Not only is the sanctuary itself quite well preserved, but the buildings surrounding it are still visible. All this together gives an idea of ​​the daily life of both the servants of the temple complex and visitors.

Excavations were carried out on an area of ​​more than seven hectares. The cult complex consists of a large sanctuary bounded on both sides by a 60-meter gallery with columns. Two temples – one larger and one smaller – are typical Romano-Celtic fanums.

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The temple complex as seen by the artist

This is the name of the temple of square masonry, in the center of which a cella (sanctuary) was built, enclosed by an internal square gallery.

The figure of the deity to whom the temple is dedicated was placed in the cella. The faithful offered their prayers and offerings in the gallery.

A complex of two fanums at once is a rare find. Archaeologists suggest that the large temple was dedicated to the main deity (or deities) of the sanctuary, the small one to deities of secondary importance. Pilgrims in the sanctuary were met by a platform with a well and two small buildings.

The temples were built in the 1st century BC, immediately after the Roman conquest of Gaul. And they functioned, according to experts, for at least five centuries, until the 4th century AD.

On the territory of the complex, archaeologists found a small bronze figurine of the god Mars. It can be assumed that at least one of the temples was dedicated to him.

Interestingly, in Roman Gaul, Mars was not so much a bloodthirsty god of war as a benevolent figure – a protector, a healing deity.

Inrap also found an undamaged bronze bowl bearing the signs of Jupiter. Its handles are decorated with reliefs of an eagle and images of stylized lightning bolts. The eagle and lightning are the symbols of Jupiter.

Obviously, he was also worshiped in the sanctuary, but it is not clear whether it was in the main temple or in the secondary one.

In general, in the Roman pantheon, Jupiter was higher than Mars, but in practice, if the cult of Mars was more important for a particular area, a larger temple could be dedicated to him.

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Bronze bowl

In addition to the two temples, experts unearthed residential buildings and baths with an area of ​​120 square meters.

As we have repeatedly noted, the Romans arranged all the territories they conquered according to their ideas about the necessary comfort.

Baths are an indispensable element of their lifestyle. Judging by their size, they were intended for public use, including for visitors to the sanctuary.

Brittany, which was then called Armorica, was inhabited by several Celtic (Gallic) tribes at once. Most of their names can be found in the sources only when some ancient historian describes the battle and lists its participants.

On the territory of the commune of La Chapelle del Fougères, redons lived, who settled around their main city – Condata (the modern name is Rennes).

They submitted to the Roman troops under the leadership of Crassus in 57 BC. But just five years later, the Redons provided the people of the Gallic coalition under the leadership of Vercingetorix to participate in the Battle of Alesia.

The Romans, led by Gaius Julius Caesar, defeated the coalition troops, and this battle was the end of one of the Gallic Wars.

As we can see, the wars did not prevent not only a peaceful settlement, but also the gradual penetration of Roman religious views and customs into the life of the Gauls.

The Romans built roads, temples, baths, and the Gauls used all this with pleasure – not forgetting, however, from time to time to rebel against the conquerors.


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