Back to the time of the Gauls in the Gallo-Roman city of Fâ, near Royan
Several archaeological excavation campaigns carried out on the Fâ site revealed a very ancient human presence. This probably dates back to the Neolithic period, 5 years ago. A veritable historical saga culminating in the discovery of the remains of a Gallo-Roman town of primary importance, active and prosperous until the end of the XNUMXrd century. Some historians have seen in this ancient city the trace of “Novioregum” ; a locality never really identified which a travel guide dated from the Emperor Diocletian mentions.
Baths, a theatre, warehouses, a temple, a forum, dwellings, roads... All the attributes of what seems to have been a large port agglomeration from the Gallo-Roman period are gathered on a perimeter of 50 hectares at Barzan on the edge of the Gironde estuary, on the Destination Royan Atlantique.
Traces dating back to prehistoric times
The richness of the vestiges of this littoral zone testifies to an intense artisanal, economic, cultural and spiritual activity. The latter, however, does not date from the conquest of Julius Caesar (from -58 BC). Excavations, carried out on the ground from the end of the 800th century, reveal a much older human presence. About 1877 meters from the current museum, the two slopes of the Garde hill bear traces of it. In XNUMX, a local historian, Eutrope Jouan, reports the exhumation of polished axes and arrowheads which seem to correspond to the know-how of the end of the Neolithic period (around – 3). A track confirmed, much later, by other archaeologists mobilized in Barzan. We discover, in the same place, ceramics, ditches, a necropolis and hearthstones unearthed near layers of ashes. This confirms Jouan's intuition. Settled prehistoric societies had therefore set up a fortified camp on site.
Fullerenes ruins of the Gallo-Roman city of Fâ are part of a long continuity. Thanks to a favorable geographical location, the site stands on the tin route between the British Isles and the Mediterranean territories. This raw material, essential for the production of bronze tools, gives rise to an active trade. This explains the attractiveness of this very accessible transit zone from the mouth of the Gironde. No doubt we owe to the Santons, the Celtic people of the territory, from the middle of the last millennium BC (between - 700 and - 500), the embryo of what has become one of the largest port cities in the Atlantic coast. And, much later, one of the jewels of the tourism in Charente-Maritime.
A monumental temple dedicated to the God of War
After being a simple emporium (trading post), the city begins to cover itself with typically urban stone buildings under the reign of the Flavian emperors (69-96 AD). Its development will reach a cultural and economic golden age in the following century, dominated by the Antonine dynasty. An official itinerary drawn up and published at that time by the Romans already indicates the city. Many historians believe that the long unknown city of Novioregum corresponds to Fâ site. The work locates it on the traffic axis that connects Saintes to Bordeaux via Blaye, 15 leagues from Saintes (about 35 km) and 12 leagues from Tamnum (about thirty km) », a village identified near the current town of Consac. The remains of a real agglomeration, connected by a road network to Mediolanum Santonum (Saintes) are visible in the field.
There remains today monumental temple dedicated to the Roman god Mars, the enclosure and the podium which housed the statue representing the divinity. In its place stands a windmill built in the XNUMXth or XNUMXth century. The name "Fâ" which today designates the whole of the Gallo-Roman city comes from the Latin fanum. This term was used to qualify the sanctuaries, spaces dedicated to the gods. The Gallo-Roman temple was very probably built on the site of older, more modest complexes with a religious vocation, developed by earlier civilizations, Neolithic then Celtic.
A theatre, thermal baths, warehouses, between real and virtual visits
Le theater is located further east, on one of the sides of the Garde hill. Its remains suggest bleachers arranged in a semi-circular plan. Its hemicycle has a radius of 50 meters. By comparison, the theater is of equivalent size to those of Arles, Vienna, Orange or Autun, true benchmarks of the genre.
Turnkey Baths (public baths) are updated to the north. Their archaeological excavations show that they were fed by a cistern 16 meters deep equipped with a chain wheel used to "pump" the water extracted from the water table. Nearby, a small neighborhood of habitats is revealed.
Fâ Site Museum
Since December 2005, a museum, housed in the old farm of Fâ, exhibits vestiges and presents reconstructions including a model of the Gallo-Roman city restored to a scale of 1/10.
The commercial function of the city is reflected in the importance of its warehouse, identified near the main shrine. The building occupies a space of 4 m² which was organized around a central courtyard lined with cells dedicated to shopping.
The urban fabric uncovered by the archaeologists reveals the trace of a decumanus. It is, in a way, a large avenue at least 400 meters long and 20 meters wide which crosses the city to the peribolus (enclosure) of the great temple. Thanks to an interactive terminal, the public has the opportunity to virtually immerse themselves in the heart of the ancient Gallo-Roman city of Fâ.