Roman Sanctuary Found in France Probably Dedicated to Mars

Roman Sanctuary Found in France Probably Dedicated to Mars

Archaeologists said the Roman sanctuary discovered in Brittany, a region in northwest France, may have been dedicated to the Roman god of war, Mars. They also found a small necropolis at the site.

The discovery was made by archaeologists from French research institute IRNAP at a site in the commune of La Chapelle-des-Fougeretz.

As a result of the excavations carried out for about eight months, many fascinating finds were unearthed. Among the most significant finds are a Roman sanctuary that may have served as a center of religious worship, and a small necropolis containing 40 tombs.

Gallo-Roman period
The Gallo-Roman period began when France came under Roman rule in the 1st century BC. Over time, the region became a significant part of the Roman Empire. However, with the collapse of the Western Rome in the 5th century AD, Roman influence in France gradually waned.

In the tombs, no skeletal remains that have managed to reach today have been found. However, the grave goods unearthed at the necropolis reveal that the tombs date from the late Gallo-Roman period.

Among the grave goods are jewelry, pottery, coins and weapons. These finds are interpreted as evidence of the region’s advanced craftsmanship and the wealth of its inhabitants.

Bracelets and Beads
Photo: Adrien Etienvre, INRAP

The discovery of such a variety of grave goods also suggests a complex and hierarchical social structure among the inhabitants of the late Gallo-Roman period. In particular, the presence of weapons raises questions about the potential for conflict and warfare in the region at that time.

Sanctuary Probably Dedicated to Mars, God of War

One of the significant finds unearthed at the excavation site is a bronze statuette. Typically depicted as holding a spear in one hand, the statuette symbolizes the Roman god of war, Mars. Based on the statuette, archaeologists think the Roman sanctuary may have been dedicated to Mars.

Roman Sanctuary, Mars statuette
Statuette of Mars
Photo: Emmanuelle Collado, INRAP

In addition to the statuette, swords and spearheads found at the site support the hypothesis that the sanctuary was dedicated to Mars. Swords and spearheads were probably used in ritual offerings to the god.

Who is Mars?
Mars, also known as the father of the Roman people, is a god of war in Roman mythology.1 He is the son of Jupiter and Juno. Shield, sword, spear, eagle and wolf are its most common symbols. He is associated with the founding of Rome as he is the father of the legendary brothers Romulus and Remus. He was often depicted in sculptures as a muscular and imposing figure, with a fierce expression on his face. In addition, he is considered the guardion of agriculture. Therefore he was often called upon by farmers to ensure a successful harvest.

According to the researchers, those found at the site not only illuminate the cultural history of the region from the Roman period, but also make an important contribution to studies in the field of archeology and history. Objects and remains from the sanctuary may help learn more about ancient Roman religious practices and may also offer a broader perspective on the interaction between ancient Roman and Celtic cultures.

Brittany During the Gallo-Roman Period

Brittany was a region where the Celtic people called Veneti had lived since the Iron Age, before it was conquered by the Roman Empire in the 1st century BC.

Under Roman rule, Brittany became part of the province of Gallia Lugdunensis, with its capital at Lugdunum (present-day Lyon). However, the region remained largely independent, with a strong Celtic culture and language that persisted into the Middle Ages.

In the Gallo-Roman period, Brittany was an important center for trade, particularly the export of tin and other metals. The area also had a significant military presence, with several Roman military camps and forts set up along the coast.

Despite Brittany’s integration with the Roman Empire, it continued to experience periodic invasions and raids by Germanic tribes and other enemies. It was occupied by the Saxons and other Germanic peoples in the 5th century AD. This led to the collapse of Roman dominance in the region.

External Links

  1. “Playing with Time: Ovid and the Fasti”, Carole Elizabeth NEWLANDS, Cornell University Press, ISBN: 9780801430800^