If you’ve been wanting to take a trip to France for a while now, you can add a new reason to visit to your list. French archeologists recently discovered Roman ruins just outside the southeastern city of Vienne, and the ancient neighborhood is so well preserved that experts are calling it a “little Pompeii.”
The remains stretch out over 75,000 square feet, and the village includes a collection of public buildings and homes, with some structures dating back to the first century AD. Currently, archeologists believe that the village was inhabited for about 300 years before a series of fires forced inhabitants out—but a large portion of the village’s decorated tile floors, water supply system, gardens, fountains and mosaics were preserved.
“We’re unbelievably lucky,” Benjamin Clement, the archaeologist leading the 20-person dig, told Agence France-Presse (AFP). “This is undoubtedly the most exceptional excavation of a Roman site in 40 or 50 years.”
The ruins were first discovered when workers were preparing land for the construction of an upcoming housing project. After the discovery in April, excavations were extended until mid-September. Now, they will continue on until the end of the year, hopefully allowing experts to discover more archeological treasures underground.
Want a peek at the ruins? Take a look at the AFP’s tour of the excavation site below:
A "little Pompeii" is how French archaeologists are describing an entire ancient Roman neighbourhood uncovered on the outskirts of Vienne pic.twitter.com/Q4jwTcBzma
— AFP News Agency (@AFP) August 2, 2017
So far, archeologists have found two homes—both containing large mosaics depicting ancient gods—as well as the site of a former market. The mosaics are currently being removed from the site, and once they’re out of the ground, they’ll be restored and exhibited in Vienne’s museum. (No word yet on when they’ll be on display, but it will likely be a while before the public can lay eyes on the mosaics.)
There’s nothing better than being able to dive into the past, so if you needed another reason to visit France, there you have it. If you’re heading to Lyon soon, you might even be able to take a 20-minute drive out to the excavation site. You wouldn’t be allowed on site, but you could totally watch archaeologists uncover history as you drive past.