A Gallo-Roman villa, the so-called "town of Marca", at Cambron (Somme). The frost has revealed its foundations and, on the right, the location of a quarry that was used for its construction
 
False-color infrared reveals the layout of a very characteristic Gallo-Roman villa with long rectangular courtyards. Warfusée-Abancourt (Somme).
Gallo-Roman settlements: The Gallo-Roman villa
The spectacular contribution of aerial archaeology
A B C D E F G H
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A Gallo-Roman villa, the so-called -town of Marca-, at Cambron (Somme). The frost has revealed its foundations and, on the right, the location of a quarry that was used for its construction

False-color infrared reveals the layout of a very characteristic Gallo-Roman villa with long rectangular courtyards. Warfusée-Abancourt (Somme).
For a long time, the top specialists thought that in Gaul, especially northern Gaul, Gallo-Roman civilization was essentially — even exclusively — urban. Even the famous Guizot, writing about the Gallo-Roman countryside, said that it was "cultivated […] but not populated"". The few traces of ancient foundations were nearly always thought to be the remains of a vanished "city", even for a small villa like at Marca, near Cambron (Somme). Prior to aerial prospecting, no villas in northern Gaul were known. Flyovers have revealed hundreds, often with annexes, sometimes outlined with a crispness that resembles an architect's sketch! For the conquering Roman, of course, the city — or at least the capital of the civitateswas the central administrative, political, business, and leisure structure. It was even said to be a civilization of leisure!

It is clear that it could not have existed without a well-exploited countryside. We should have thus expected to find rural farm structures — i.e. villas
— from the air. The first surprise was that we found so many, and the second was that we identified huge architectural ensembles, astonishingly stereotypical, straight across all the rich wheat fields of Gallia Belgica.


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