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May 24, 2024

Spectacular Roman Glassware Unearthed in Ancient Tombs in Nîmes

Screenshot 2024-05-07 at 10.18.35 AM

From artnet:

Stunningly Preserved Ancient Roman Glassware Turns Up in a French Burial Site

The glass artifacts date from when the town was the Roman settlement known as Nemausus

Around the 1st century C.E., Nîmes was the Roman capital of the region, then named Nemausus, and was home to a population of up to 60,000. The name Nemausus came from the patron god of the region, worshiped by the Volcae Arecomici, a Gallic tribe living in the area during the Iron and Roman ages. The tribe also worshipped the Nemausicae, fertility and healing goddesses associated with the spring in Nîmes.

Because of its rich Roman history, Nîmes has been called "the most Roman city outside Italy," and the "French Rome." The Romans ruled what is now France between the first century B.C.E. and the 5th century C.E., and the glass vases found by the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (INRAP) date to this time of Roman Gaul, between the 1st century B.C.E. and the 2nd century C.E.

Around the time the Roman glassware artifacts would have been created, city life centered around the main plaza and the stunning Corinthian-style temple, the Maison Carrée, which is still open to visitors today.

The glass vessels would have been used during feasts known as refrigerium, meaning "refreshment," when worshippers would eat a ceremonial meal at family gravesites to commemorate the dead. Wine, which was said to assist with communicating with the dead, would be served by female priestesses, who oversaw the ceremony. Other artifacts found in the burial sites during the dig included glass and ceramic vases and lamps (below).


Also discovered were two major Roman roads running through the city, including the Domitian Way, which linked Italy with Spain through southern France. The wear and tear on the stone pavements of one road demonstrates how heavy the foot traffic was through the city in ancient times. The oldest roadways are between 2,100 and 2,200 years old, and the newest between 1,800 and 1,900 years old.

The Roman glassware was found during excavations taking place on the Rue de Beaucaire, which runs to the east of the city center, during the construction of a new housing development. Several burial plots were uncovered outside of the city. Funeral pyres made from limestone and terracotta, where bodies were ceremoniously cremated, were also discovered. INRAP archaeologists also discovered the remains of an ancient Roman well beneath a modern development.

May 24, 2024 at 12:01 PM | Permalink


Been watching a fascinating series on PBS about the new digs at Pompeii. They are realizing that of the 10,000 to 30,000 residents & merchants (total population is debated), only about 1,200 have been found, Where did all the others go? Since few carts and horses have been found, they realized there were merchant bazaars going on 12-15 miles away that day, so the town would have been mostly empty (merchants would go with the entire family and staff to man the booths while others roamed and shopped).

Posted by: Penny Tanz | May 25, 2024 10:24:32 AM

I see an oil lamp (front, center) and what may be another (back, left). I find the pieces so well crafted that I fear they may be fake.

Posted by: antares | May 24, 2024 7:36:12 PM

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