OLD EXCAVATIONS (1959-1972)

An important extensive excavation was carried out between 1959 and 1972 by Jean LAUFFRAY, Architect of the Buildings of France for the Pyrénées-Atlantiques and the Landes, also Curator of the Château de Pau between 1955 and 1961, then, from 1963, researcher at the CNRS linked at the Aquitaine Architecture Office.  

 

The work of J. LAUFFRAY turns out to be of considerable importance. The operations allowed the release of almost all of the  go urbana  of the villa and part of the  go rustica  (9000 m² over approximately 2 ha of buildings). In accordance with the scientific concerns of the time, his efforts then focused mainly on the study of the residential part of the  Villa  for which he established an overall plan and proposed an architectural evolution of the residential part between the 1st and 5th centuries AD.

 

J. Lauffray's interpretative scheme is quite consistent  :

  • The first establishment, set up in  middle of the 1st c. ap. AD, is interpreted as a  road stop  between the two towns of Lescar /  Beneharnum  and Aire-sur-l'Adour /  Atura. This hypothesis has since been abandoned.

  • To the  end of the 1st c. or at the beginning of the 2nd century.  this relay would have turned into an establishment of the  villa, of which the residential part will undergo a strong extension thereafter.

  • In the Lower Empire, the  Villa  knows a remarkable embellishment, in particular thanks to the installation of mosaic pavements of Aquitaine style.

 

In 1972, when the campaign ended, the site was  abandoned, in spite of the first-rate interest that the scientific community and the educated public now agree to recognize in it.  In 1973, a  review article  appears in the review  Gallia ( consult online ).

 

RECENT EXCAVATIONS (1994-2005)

The Archaeological Research Group of the University of Pau and the Adour Countries (UPPA) was in charge of the site between 1994 and 2005, a period articulated in three distinct phases: an evaluation phase, then a phase of prospecting and finally a scheduled excavation. The UPPA's work provides us with the most recent data; they thus respond to new objectives and lead to new interpretations. The National School of Architecture of Toulouse made its contribution and many students took part in the various campaigns under the direction of their teacher, Christian DARLES.

 

The evaluation phase from 1994 to 1996  : Placed under the direction of F. RECHIN (GRA), it responds to the request of the Regional Service of Archeology of Aquitaine which expresses its desire to settle the question of the status as well as that of the conservation of the Lalonquette site. The research focuses on the state of the remains after twenty-two years of abandonment as well as the potential offered by the site in terms of scientific research. This series of interventions allows on the one hand to take stock of the state of conservation of the remains and on the other hand to correct certain chronologies previously proposed and to learn more about the forms of land use around the site. Villa. The encouraging results obtained motivate the resumption of archaeological research on the site.


The diachronic prospecting phase from 1995 to 2001  : From 1995 begins under the direction  of  F.  RECHIN (GRA)  and  of  R.  COMPATANGELO,  a whole  series  of  campaigns  of  archaeological, pedestrian and aerial prospecting, around the villa. The primary objective is to better understand the aspect of the countryside surrounding the villa in Roman times, but also to assess the situation before its construction (Iron Age) and after its abandonment (Middle Ages). In 1998, the operation was extended by R. PLANA in the form of a "Programmed Prospecting" in order to measure the impact of the villa on its surrounding space, then from 1999 to 2001 as part of a "Collective Program Research "involving a multidisciplinary team of researchers in order to better understand the site's operating mode and the relationships it maintains with its environment. At the end of the PCR, the Community of communes of Thèze buys the land where the remains are, thus opening the way to new research.

An excavation scheduled from 2002 to 2005  : the purpose of this last step was  to strongly revise certain interpretations regarding the functions and chronologies of the exhumed buildings, to significantly complete the knowledge of the paleoenvironment as well as to draw attention to the initial phase of occupation, formerly neglected in favor of the later states. The works made it possible to  to re-specify the architectural and stratigraphic state of the site, and to try to apprehend the economic but also social profile of the villa. The skills of several specialists were thus again associated with the aim of broadening the perspectives of understanding.  Thus, the discovery of Italic and Gallic sigillated ceramics during these campaigns seems to orient the dating of the first state of the pars urbana towards the first two decades of our era and no longer in the middle of the 1st century, as J. LAUFFRAY had. initially proposed. A second phase of expansion was observed in the 2nd century with the appearance of a cellar. Finally, it seems that the establishment faced a major restructuring campaign in the 4th century to become a real country palace. The pars rustica is then put aside, since no agricultural building is preserved during this phase.


On this date, the site was excavated over nearly a hectare and a half. Its precise extent is still unclear  even if we know, thanks to the realization of punctual surveys and geophysical images in the surrounding fields, that the neighboring lands were occupied in ancient times. The pars rustica of the 4th century would take place in the land  located just south of the site, along the Gabas.

Download the articles:

    - "The villa of the Arribèra deus Gleisiars in Lalonquette (Pyrénées-Atlantiques)" , in L'archéologue n ° 75, June-July 2005

    - "The Gallo-Roman villa of Lalonquette and the surrounding areas: the initial phase of occupation" , in Space and Societies in Roman times:        between Garonne and Ebro, Archeology of the Eastern Pyrenees and the Landes, Special issue n ° 4, 2007