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Reconstitutions

The Aubechies Archeosite offers you a journey 5000 years into our past. It is a true open-air museum, showing the live of the different populations who have lived one after another here in our region through various reconstructions build on the results of numerous archaeological digs.

Prehistoric times are illustrated by living environments from the Neolithic Era (first farmers), the Bronze Age and the Iron Age.
After stopping off at a Gallic house, you will also have the opportunity to explore the Gallo-Roman period, which is represented by a temple, a necropolis, a villa and a barge (a flat-bottomed boat).

Gallo-Roman necropolis

During the Roman Period necropolises were to be found here and there but most frequently on the country.
The cemetery discovered at the place called “Camp romain” (Roman Camp) in Blicquy revealed more than
500 tombs.
Funeral monuments were usually decorated with a carved epitaph. Sometimes an invective could also be
addressed to passers-by. Richer monuments were embellished with sculpted scenes representing the deceased
alone or with his family as well as with scenes reminding of his job. This is why funeral monuments are really considered as very important historical documents that enable to better understand the civilization of the time through the priceless accounts they give us, especially thanks to the quality and the richness of their high- and
bas-reliefs. During your visit the monuments of the necropolis will serve as a basis to talk about various
subjects, namely funeral practices, beliefs and mythology, clothing and hairdressing, Roman family notions and
legal status, furniture, architecture, crafts, agriculture and so on.

A very small number of Gallo-Roman necropolises remained untouched. In most cases the external distinctive element has completely disappeared (robbed or destroyed). Therefore the necropolis realized in Aubechies in
2002 presents 16 monuments reconstituted on the basis of various originals conserved in the archaeological museums of Arlon, Trier, Mainz and Strasbourg.

This reconstituted necropolis is integrated into a new tour that also includes the new villa and the temple(fanum).
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The House of the Group of Blicquy

Dating from the fifth millenium before J.-C, the Blicquy group house is one of the first Archeosite reconstructions based on a discovery made at a place called Bonne Fortune in Irchonwelz (excavations 1978-1980).

This community housing in trapezoidal shape also includes storage spaces, a paddock and a workshop for cutting the silex. The central room with vents has got a cowshed and straw supplies on both sides.

You can see hanging pots used for food supplies. They are decorated with chevrons distinguishing them from the banded pieces of pottery.

From the architectural point of view, the Blicquy group farm has exactly the same characteristics as the one which came after the Danubian current. The narrowing of the west wall and the addition of a central supporting pillar will give the house its trapezoidal form.
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Fanum (Gallo-Roman temple)

Each research done on the site of the Gallo-Roman sanctuary of Blicquy (Leuze-en-Hainaut) made the reconstitution of the Gallo-Roman temple (fanum) possible

Dimensions: 20 meters by 20

Although the study of the site of the sanctuary still goes on, it is possible to sketch out a reconstitution of this exceptional place of worship. The very sanctuary covered a surface of 120 meters by 100 and was surrounded
by a ring wall. An entrance building enabled the pilgrims to go into the sacred area. A paved way led directly to
the temple (fanum) that was the main element of the sanctuary. The pilgrims first had to solicit from the deity / deities and lay down a present and afterwards they were allowed to go to the other parts of the sanctuary, still walking on other paved ways. On both side of the sacred area there were two colonnade galleries that protected
the pilgrims from bad weather and were also used as banquet place or still as rest place. About 70 meters away
from the entrance of the sanctuary there was a theatre that could host an audience of some 6,000 people. This building was used for religious ceremonies but also probably for entertainment purposes.

According to ancient documents the word fanum (pl: fana) initially designated a sacred place and, more
generally, any building devoted to deities and reserved to the cult of a deity. Nowadays archaeologists use this
word to designate Gallo-Roman temples that differ from traditional Roman temples because of their central
plan. The cella, building situated in the very middle, corresponds to the deity’s residence; protecting the god’s statute was its main purpose. An open gallery surrounded the cella; it could host other deities and was also
used as a shelter for the pilgrims

The temple reconstituted here was built according to the same plan and the same dimensions as those of the
fanum discovered at Blicquy. Its reconstitution was also inspired by well preserved monuments such as the
temple of Janus at Autun (France) as well as by various elements detected during the excavations. The building techniques employed for this reconstitution are the same as those used for the villa

At the present stage of research we still ignore which deity was venerated at the fanum of Blicquy. There are
four statutes of deities inside the cella. In the middle we can see Mars, the god of war and protector of the
families; there is a statute of Mercury, the god of trade and travellers, on the right side; a statue of a Venus
carrying bunches of grapes is presented on the left side. There is also a statute of Minerva in the left corner.
Various archaeological discoveries were realized at the sanctuary of Blicquy, confirming the presence of the divinities mentioned previously (small statutes, attributes, and so on) but none of these enables to definitely
identify the main deity that was venerated inside the fanum. Various sorts of offers are visible on the ground,
namely crockery (for the food offers), jugs (for liquid offers such as wine), coins, dedications, small statutes,
and so on.

The walls are decorated with Roman paintings, the iconography of which is directly inspired by pieces of
painted coatings discovered during the excavations done under and near the Romanesque church of Aubechies.
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House of the Bronze Age

With Bronze age we are entering a renewal period with the development of a road network, the intensification of trade, the specialization of jobskills and therefore the emergence of a specific social hierarchy. The use of stone remains predominant owing to the lack, in our regions, of raw materials needed to make bronze, made of 90% copper and 10% tin .

Reconstructed on the basis of a house discovered in Dampierre-sur-le Doubs( excavations of 1967), the Bronze Age house (+ /-1800 BC) has got the the same characteristics as in the Neolithic period : walls made of mud,
tatched roof and vents.

However innovations appear. For example, its structure has got an apse form( 6 m long and 4 m wide) .
Its Northeast/southwest orientation depends on its location in the village and the social status of its inhabitants.

This family - sized unit from now on has got a clay area for animals and a floor for the occupied part, while the
fireplace is situated in a delimited place in the ground itself. Mortise and tenon joints make possible the assembly of the wood.This performance can be achieved thanks to the new Bronze equipment (tools and weapons).

The baker’s and potter’s ovens are built outside the house under the canopy. Ceramic pottery, sometimes embellished with painted red or beige patterns and made with the clay coil technique, have now a flat bottom.
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Gallo-Roman villa

Villa’s appear in Gaul during the second half of the 1st century A.D. The Gallo-Roman villa is first a foremost an agricultural estate adapted to a local economy based mainly upon the agricultural sector. It ‘s the favourite tool for agricultural production and commercial exchanges, but it also reflects a certain form of elitism translated by a Mediterranean way of life and it differs basically from the proto-historical type of
housing.

The original villa was discovered in Mainz (Germany, Rheinland-Pfalz). This well documented building has a typical plan with a façade gallery. Such model was quite common in northern Gaul, the British Isles and Germany.

The villa reconstituted in Aubechies is divided into an oecus (reception room) and several outbuildings.
The various rooms are decorated with frescos and mosaics and they are furnished with true reproductions
of period furniture. While visiting the villa, you’ll have the opportunity to hear about architecture, everyday
life on the country, society organisation, agriculture, crafts, commercial exchanges, and so on.

The reconstituted villa is integrated into a new tour that also includes the necropolis and the temple (fanum)
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The Danubian farm

Replica of a settlement discovered in a place called Petite Rosière in Blicquy (excavations 1972-1981), the Danubian farm is a community house from the early Neolithic. Under the form of a rectangle, it presents, architecturally speaking, a series of three posts or three parts that support the roof and delimit a series of linked rooms.

The central room where people lived in clans but not in families has got a slightly digged fireplace into the ground, a stoneware millstone, a terracotta baker’s oven and a litter which is a seat made of clay and covered with sheepskins. Two openings down the roof make the extraction of smoke and fire draught easier.

A paddock sheltered the animals in winter and an outdoor workshop for cutting silex, sheltered under an awning, supplied with various lithic tools: awls, arrowheads, scrapers, gravers, sticklestrips, etc …. The roof is covered with thatch and reed and the walls are made of wattle (interlacing of thin hazel tree branches) covered with cob (a mixture of clay and straw).

And finally the rounded bottom pieces of pottery with their incised ribbon patterns are made in accordance with the claycoil technique which is peculiar to the Danubien’s own decoration technique.
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Barge

In 2000 the Archéosite d’Aubechies asbl (non-profit-making society) was granted European financial means to help it developing the tourist infrastructures of its site within the framework of the programme “Phasing Out” of Target 1 (Commissariat Général au Tourisme and FEDER). Part of this allowance was used to reproduce the barge (16 meters long by 2.90 meters wide).

This replica is based upon components of the original exposed in Ath and is as true as possible to its model. Hypotheses based upon ancient iconographical documents as well as upon other original barges discovered in Europe (Zwammerdam, Bevaix, Lyon, …) enabled to reproduce the missing parts.
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House of first Iron Age

In the Iron Age, the last stage of prehistory before the Roman conquest, two successive periods: Hallstatt (700-450 BC.) And La Tene (450 BC. To Roman conquest). The first period is characterized by the arrival of small groups of conquerors from the East and perhaps Central Europe, the emergence of a warrior aristocracy and mercantile and increased trade particularly with the Northern Italy and Greece. A hierarchical society is seen by the rich offerings accompanying the ashes of the deceased.

Around 450 BC. AD, other groups of Celtic origin arise. Traces of habitation have been found particularly to Blicquy and to Ellignies-Sainte-Anne and the flat tombs and rich chariot graves .During "laTene" also appear the coins made of gold, electrum (natural alloy of gold and silver) or pewter (an alloy of copper and lead).

Copy of a habitat searched at a place called "Font Pernant" in Compiègne (France), home of the Iron Age (450 BC.), The wall of mud and the roof covered with reed has a rectangular planA number of improvements are due to the appearance of iron tools: the door is now fitted with a lock and a plow equipped with a plow iron is visible near the house. Woodworking has also refined. This feature is evident in the interiors, and in the manufacture of furniture (tables, benches, stairs to enter the smoking room, etc).

A vertical loom is used to produce fabrics in various patterns.
The coiling pottery vary both in their forms in their designs. And a ceramic appear much finer "Terra Negra 'and pottery with painted decoration in white and red.

At the end of the second century BC. Celtic groups of Germanic origin from the Rhine valley settled in northern Gaul and form a centralized and hierarchical status. Our regions are therefore part of the "Civitas Nerviorum." Crafts and metallurgy are growing and are accompanied by increased trade and trade facilitated by the introduction of road routes and the spread of coins.
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Colonnade gallery

The colonnade gallery was part of the sanctuary; it was used to host pilgrims when ritual banquets were organized.

Because of the limited size of domain occupied by the Archaeological Site such architectural element could only be partially reproduced (48.50 meters). The building techniques are the same as those employed for the fanum and the villa. The basic plan, traced from the remains of the sanctuary of Blicquy, already gives an idea
of the probable monumentality of the religious site of Blicquy.

Since we had no coating pieces enough to reproduce the painted decorations of the façade, we had to choose a model discovered in the sanctuary of Ribemmont-sur-Ancre in Picardy (France). The main composition reproduced here proposes a provincial whole derived from the 3rd Pompeian style Candelabras painted between the panels form the main elements of the composition and replace the pilasters and the columns while joining the panels with each other. The whole composition is based on an alternation of red panels with candelabras painted on a blue background. The candelabra stem is decorated with umbels composed of garlands and stylized leaves. Foliage forms the basis of the candelabra.
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1st Gallic house (second Iron Age)

The Iron Age is the last stage of prehistory before the Roman conquest. It is commonly divided into two periods. The one that we are interested in is called "La Tène.". It begins around 450 BC with the arrival of Celtic populations, without doubt from the South-East.

The first Gallic house (1st century BC) is a quadrangular building with one of the main originality its three-sided roof. It consists of one large room and the boxes for animals. This habitat is used to house a family in the narrow sense of the term.

In the center of the single room is the fireplace. This one is slightly elevated and is bordered of andirons, parts used to support the logs in the fireplace. Those presented here are in terracotta and have ram's heads. These powerful animals have the function of protecting the habitat. Observe also the copper cauldron suspended by a long trammel (a metal rod for hanging containers above the fire).

Facing the fireplace is the bread oven. This one is similar to the previous periods. It is flanked by a millstone that have two rotating granite's disks.
In the back of the room is a vertical loom. It is a wooden frame where are suspended the threads of wool that form the cloth. They are held in tension by weights in terracotta. An horizontal movable bar permits to switch the threads of weft (horizontal) between the two rows of warp threads (vertical).

Finally, it is important to note the presence of a barrel, a Gallic invention to contain beer (Cervesia), considered as the ancestor of our current beers, developed by the Celts. Concerning the different ingredients, the ancient texts mention the use of wheat. The drink was also flawored with multiple ingredients such as cumin, ginger or bay leafs.
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The second Gallic house

The second Gallic house (first century BC) is rectangular. Just as in the Neolithic and the Bronze Age, its walls are made of cob, a mixture of soil, water and straw. The cob is plated on a wattle wood, that is to say a structure of columns which are driven vertically interleaved between the flexible branches. The roof, with two gables, is thatched and reeds.

A ceiling, consisting of branches on which we placed dried leaves, to better retain heat. It gives the room a more intimate atmosphere. The raised berths can be completely closed by sheepskins or sections of cloth. It also helps to protect the layers from cold.

Outside, there are a granary, cellar and smokehouse. The attic was built on stilts to ensure the flow of air and to conserve reserves against moisture. This one is covered with wooden shingles, that is to say, the small plates that can be cut into various shapes. The cellar, has a rectangular plan, has been dug into the soil to a depth of one meter. Its walls are retained by a wattle. A roof, two-sided, covered with stubble, is placed on the ground.

As for the smokeroom, it allows to preserve and flavor foods by exposing food to smoke.
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Gallo-Roman Milling unit

The harvest is mostly done with a sickle and sometimes with the “vallus”, ancestor of the mechanical reaper. It is then transported to the farm. It then performs the threshing, operated by the animal trampling to extract the grains.

The Cereal flours were a staple that allowed the manufacture of various products such as bread, porridge and pancakes. From the second Iron Age, appears a rotary mill, that is composed of two grinding wheels drilled and intersected by a central axis. The rotary grinders are usually cut in local hard rock. In our region, there are mainly domestic millstones made of stoneware.

At ancient times, the first milling appears and they use very large grinders. Several systems exist. The mill located near the bakery consists of a horizontal waterwheel, it means a wheel provided with blades, bearing surfaces for rotation about an axis.
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Roman garden

There is little information on the layout of the gardens in northern Gaul.
Thanks a few examples of known sites in France, Germany and England, however, we note that there is a garden and a vegetable plot adjoining the house, usually on the back or on front.

In the vegetable plot they grow three categories of plants: vegetables, aromatic herbs and medicinal plants. During the Roman era, fruit trees are also planted along roads or in spaces that are reserved (fields, pastures, etc.). Some varieties of fruit are increasingly imported.

Facing the main building (pars urbana), the trellis, positioned above the central passage, permits take shelter of the sun. This one leads to an ornamental rectangular pond in the middle of the garden.

Since 2013, the pleasure garden of the villa has a faithful reconstruction of a summer triclinium (diningroom outside) found in Saint-Romain-en-Gal (France).
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Roman bakkery

Reconstructed in front of the fireplace (praefurnium) of the villa, the bakery houses an oven that is directly inspired by those found at Pompeii. It consists of an arch which protects the flooring, it means the surface on which are placed the wood and then future breads.

Towards the end of the fifth century BC, wheat and durum appear in Italy. These new grains are imported from North Africa and from Sicily. Wheat gives a maximum of quality and lifting. It settles therefore gradually in the Peninsula. In Gaul Belgium and in Germany, spelt is also used for making bread.

According to Pliny the Elder, antique Roman author, bakery's shops would have been developed from the second century BC. In Rome, we find different qualities of bread. Also, there are full breads or specials breads. The leaven (fermentum) was prepared with the must of grapes, that is to say, the mixture obtained after cooking or pressure of fruit. In our region, it is made with beer yeast.
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