The Roman bath house of Jonvelle

Remains of the bath house.

Jonvelle in the Haute-Saône is a village with less than 125 inhabitants. Its main attraction is the Musée des Vestiges Gallo-Romain, which is dedicated to the remains of a villa from the Roman age. Nowadays we tend to think of a villa as a large house in the country, but in Antiquity a villa was first and foremost an estate devoted to agricultural production. The villa of Jonvelle, which seems to have been in operation from the first until the fourth century, was not exceptionally large. Not much of the residential and working areas has been excavated, but the bath house that was part of the villa has been brought to light. The cold bath (frigidarium) has a wonderful mosaic that has been preserved exceptionally well.

In Antiquity the villa was on a Roman road that connected the city of Andematunnum (Langres) of the Gallic tribe of the Lingones with the river Rhine. The villa was situated between the settlements at Bourbonne-les-Bains and Corre. Especially the latter settlement was an important commercial and religious centre, so there is reason to assume that many agricultural products were transported to Corre. The villa occupied a favourable position on a hill close to the river Saône. In 1968 the first excavations were carried out under the direction of the abbot Descourvières.

Apodyterium and frigidarium.

Mosaic of the frigidarium.

The bath house consisted of a dressing room (apodyterium), a cold bath (frigidarium), a hot bath (caldarium) and a boiler room (praefurnium). There was no tepidarium, where people could bathe in lukewarm water. The mosaic in the cold bath is very special (see above). In the corners we see craters (large vases) and dolphins. Next is a circle divided into six segments, each of which contains a flower or sandal. In the centre we see four fish. These have been identified as trout and chub, fish that swim in the nearby Saône.


Countryside of Jonvelle.

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