A shifting landscape

The Loupian Villa was located in the largest watershed in the area. It has a surface area of more than 200 hectares, and is today home to the feudal-era castrum that was the origin of the modern-day village. The buildings were constructed halfway up the slope, and faced the rising sun. From the site's prevailing location, the owner could take in the farmlands as well as the Etang de Thau. At the base of the slope there is now a depression, which the recent decline in wine-growing has left poorly drained.

The landscape in Antiquity was basically the same as it appears today. However archaeological examination of both the estate's buildings and grounds provides a more nuanced picture. Terracing of the slopes took place more recently, and the succession of small walls and embankments cannot be credited to Gallo-Roman farmers.

In the same way, according to sondages taken around the villa, the arable land suffered strong erosion since Antiquity – the slopes were stripped of topsoil and a large quantity of sediment was deposited in the lower part of the watershed. At each historical period, these erosive effects, which were linked to intense land development phases that took place up to the present, changed the everyday environment, sometimes covering over archaeological remains with a thick layer of earth.


Interactive document - View from the villa towards the shores of the lagoon

View from the villa towards the shores of the lagoon

View of the watershed from the site of the Près-Bas Villa, with the Etang de Thau and the Sète hill in the background.
© R. Bourgaut, CCNBT
Interactive document - Aerial view of the slope across from the villa

Aerial view of the slope across from the villa

By creating a network of parcels that were, for a long time, used for wine-growing, the embankment and terrace walls shape the hillside's profile.
© S. Benalioua, CCNBT
Interactive document - A terrace wall

A terrace wall

The use of dry stone terrace walls, which became common in the modern era, creates an even surface and flattens the slope's fields.
© Ch. Pellecuer, MCC-DRAC Languedoc-Roussilon
Interactive document - Ancient vestiges at a significant depth

Ancient vestiges at a significant depth

The accumulation of sometimes large quantities of sediment at the base of the watershed can mask Roman-era vestiges, as can be seen at Sainte-Cécile de Loupian.
© Archéofactory