The divine statue was waiting for its time in Faison’s vault

Anais Romigos, an archaeologist with the Vaucluse County Council, is not ready to forget this early morning in February 2021 in Faison-la-Romaine. Then she and her team carried out an archaeological diagnosis, the chemin de Mirabel, to the northeast of the ancient theater, where private residences were to be erected. On the slightly raised plot, the backhoe loader operates to carry out the usual preventive excavation work before the building permit is issued. From the first trench, the archaeologist sees the turbulent underground, ripples with a white appearance.

“I quickly realized that it was not a rock. Only about twenty centimeters of these ripples were visible, so we had to widen the trench to realize that it was indeed a statue and that it was about 1.40 meters tall! It is an amazing find.” Anais Romigos explains. The scalloped limestone statue represents a female figure. It is very well preserved and has only a few recesses, but arms, head and feet are missing, while the chest is “scored” indicating a possible voluntary tear.

Roman fashion, witness to the past

The statue is wearing a pleated chiton jacket with five buttons on the sleeves. above Looting, the traditional clothing of married women in ancient Rome with a strap, forming V-shaped interlocking folds at the neckline, forming the chest. Secured by a rope knotted at the waist, it draws a series of angular and irregular folds. heavy coat (BalaThe left shoulder extends, crossing the back obliquely and upward from the right hip over the left forearm to form a series of folds along the back, leg, and left side. The arrangement of the coat on the shoulders and the presence of short wavy locks on the nape of the neck indicate that her head is bare. Just like her clothes, this woman’s pose is a wealth of information for professionals. The statue stands facing forward, resting on the left leg, the right leg slightly bent, spread to the side. His right hand is hanging along the body, while the missing left arm must be raised, as the shoulder position certainly indicates.

Venus, Ceres or Juno?

This model of drapery with a belted jacket is often used for female figurines, idealistic and creative, from the second half of IVerse century and twoe century of our era. The originality of the example from Vaison lies in the elevated position of the statue’s left arm, which suggests holding an attribute in the hand, which is widespread in the representation of female deities. The movement and arrangement of the hair strands on the shoulders are also valuable clues. In contrast to the Roman housewives of good families who had their hair tied back, we can see some locks on the back of the neck flowing with breakage. So her loose hair indicates that she is a god or goddess. This statue has many similarities with the icons of some female deities, such as Venus, Ceres, or even Juno, the chief deity par excellence since she was the wife of Jupiter, at the origin of a divine dynasty. Especially popular in Gaul, she is often depicted with a chiton tied at the waist, her left arm raised and holding a sceptre.

A clean and uniform statue

The statue has a height of 1 m 37, a width of 64 cm, and a weight of 223 kg. The statue was found in a condition considered “excellent” by the Department of Archeology of the department. It still requires a thorough restoration, particularly due to the general condition of the stone, which has caused cracks. To prevent the pieces from falling off, it was commissioned to Jean-Loup Bouvier’s workshop in Les Angles, near Avignon. The restoration work was carried out from the end of March to the end of November 2021, with the restoration work allowing cleaning with demineralized water and a wooden spoon for the very compact layer of sandy sediment in which the statue was covered. At the end of the dust removal process, many fragments broke off. In order to maintain and integrate the work well, it was thus decided to proceed with its solidification and re-glue the parts. The statue was kept in the archaeological deposit in Avignon, and could eventually incorporate into the collections of the Vaison-la-Romaine Museum in order to present it to the public.

Discover the capital of Faison

As for the presence of Stola, it constitutes a very accurate chronological sign if we consider that this feature was no longer represented after the Julio-Claudian period (between -27 and 68 AD) “This statue dates from the end of the first century, at the height of the development of the Roman Empire, and the full prosperity of the Faison la Romane. The statue rested on a heap of diverse and well-preserved cult paraphernalia. It is clearly a sacred cleaning or ritual abandonment of worship.”Identifies Anais Romigos. Among the remains found were a small altar, four votive altars, small lamps, ceramics, and other coins. ” We also found a hearth of charred offerings that we analyzed. The remains of plants, pomegranates, grapes, figs, pasta and bread or cake were found. It is a ritual of decentralization. So we are near a temple or holy place where this statue was disposed of for some unknown reason.. Suffice it to say that the discovery of the statue is exceptional in more ways than one. ” On the scale of Vaison-la-Romaine history, this brings us new elements because until now we didn’t know exactly where the city ended up in the north.. Hence this discovery will make it possible to determine the end of the ancient city agglomeration. ” It is estimated that in Faison we know only a quarter of the area of ​​the ancient city. We always want to know more! Anais Romigos concludes.

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