Les Bagnoles: a Chasséen Site in Provence


Les Bagnoles: Conservator-restorer Martin Bader and student Lara Kurmann recover a shattered ceramic vessel stabilized with plaster bandages.


Les Bagnoles: Group photo - part of the excavation team in the Roman circular trench.

In July 2012, a new teaching and research excavation started at Les Bagnoles near L'Isle-sur-la-Sorgue in Provence. The excavation project is being carried out in cooperation with Samuel van Willigen (project leader) from the Laboratoire Méditerranéen de Préhistoire Europe Afrique (Aix-en-Provence), the Service Régional d'Archéologie Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur and the Integrative Prehistoric and Natural History Archaeology IPNA.

The subject of the excavation is a site of the Neolithic Chasséen culture dating from about 4400 to 4000 B.C. With the help of exploratory excavations and geomagnetic prospection in 2006 and 2011, the French partners had already recorded the extent of the site and found that the soil preserved remains of pits and ditch structures from different periods. Two Neolithic pits contained pottery sherds and flint implements as well as burned human bones, presumably from cremation burials. These first results could be specified and extended during a four-week excavation campaign in summer 2012: Additional settlement and grave finds were uncovered from the Chasséen culture. Linear ditch structures, presumably drainage ditches, date predominantly to the Roman period. An unusual finding - and in this respect a surprise - was a Roman circular ditch, which will be further investigated by French colleagues from the Provincial Roman Archaeology.

By means of annual four-week excavation campaigns, the site will be systematically excavated and researched with the French cooperation partners in the coming years. A part of the finds and features will be evaluated within the framework of Basel courses in order to teach students basic evaluation techniques and to give them the opportunity to acquire research skills at an early stage.