Productions and activities

Producing for the population of an estate and for the reproduction of its workforce is the goal of a farm that wants to limit its expenditures. Nevertheless, the discovery, during excavations of a villa, of a plethora of objects of various provenances does not plead in favour of a system of economic independence, as ancient authors appear to have recommended.

For such estates, however, production for trade was the raison d'être. To satisfy the increased consumption of wine that went with the Romanisation of eating habits, large landowners in Gaul often focused on wine-growing. In provinces with denser population patterns, trade in grain and meat for urban markets also offered possibilities for speculation. Recent environmental scientific research has expanded our knowledge of what was produced on estates.

Astute owners were not averse to capitalising on their estates' resources via such activities as stone-quarrying or creating ceramics or tiles. Livestock and harvested plants provided excellent opportunities for this sector. The proximity of roads and waterways offered reasons to invest in commercial transport or hospitality services for travellers. Collecting taxes, when the owner was a rural representative of public authority, was another source of revenue.

Medias

Interactive document - Rustic calendar from Saint-Romain-en-Gal

Rustic calendar from Saint-Romain-en-Gal

Panel depicting the cutting of reeds and basket-weaving, Winter. Late 2nd–early 3rd century CE mosaic.
Musée d'archéologie nationale de Saint-Germain-en-Laye no. 83116 © Photo RMN - Jean Schormans
Interactive document - Rustic calendar from Saint-Romain-en-Gal

Rustic calendar from Saint-Romain-en-Gal

Panel depicting olive pressing, Autumn. Late 2nd–early 3rd century CE mosaic.
Musée d'archéologie nationale de Saint-Germain-en-Laye no. 83116 © Photo RMN - Jean Schormans
Interactive document - Horse yoked to a chariot

Horse yoked to a chariot

Ex-voto to Epona. Alise Saint-Reine.
Musée d'archéologie nationale no. 76349 © Photo RMN- Thierry Le Mage
Interactive document - Hipposandal

Hipposandal

Aube-sur-Yonne (Yonne).
Musee d'archéologie nationale no. ˆž80414 © Photo RMN- Thierry Le Mage
Interactive document - Graffito of a merchant vessel, found in the Viely Villa, Cucuron (Vaucluse), circa 70 CE

Graffito of a merchant vessel, found in the Viely Villa, Cucuron (Vaucluse), circa 70 CE

This high-quality representation is part of an entire decorative scheme. It was created in dry point on a red plaster panel. It measures about one metre square. Commissioned by an owner with a maritime past, now living in the midst of farmland, or by one of these shipbuilders who had made a fortune in Mediterranean trade.
© A. Barbet / CNRS-UMR 8546