Some treasures of the collection
of the Archeological Museum of
Viuz Faverges

The Archeological Museum of Viuz-Faverges is above all a site museum, the only one of its kind in Savoie: it tells over 2500 years of the community's history through archeology. It contains artifacts from a number of digs of the past 30 years: the Chatelard necropolis (1976), the Viuz Church (1977-78), the Thovey mansio ( 1981-present ), Viuz sanctuary (1993). The visitor will find in the museum's collections a magnificent 3rd Century Gallo-Roman cauldron, one of the finest and largest ever found, and numerous other Gallo-Roman artifacts, beautiful Gaulish jewelry (necklaces of golden amber, bracelets, pins and bronze rings), as well as medieval objects found under the St Jean-Baptiste church.

- click on any image to see a larger version -


Flat copper axe from Englannaz : This type of implement was used
in the so-called "Copper Age"
( or Chalcolithic Age ), around 2300-2200 B.C.E. It should be noted that Ötzi, the "iceman" uncovered
on the Similaun glacier in 1991 on the Italian-Austrian border, had a very similar axe in his knapsack. Length: 105mm; width: 42mm.


Amber necklace of 189 beads : It was found in man's grave n°3 in the Saint-Jean d’Arves digs (Savoie). The central bead measures 36mm in diameter. The body was decked in numerous bronze bracelets, as well as a ring, and two iron fibulae of a type most commonly dated to 450/400 B.C.E.. Analysis of some amber fragments by the Amber Research Laboratory reveals a Baltic origin for the material, thus bearing witness to the already important commercial trade routes which already covered Europe in that remote time.


Fine bronze bracelets decorated with striations : Discovered in situ on the forearm of the skeleton in grave n°-- of the Saint-Jean d’Arves digs (Savoie), these bracelets, found above the wrists of both arms are typical of the ornaments worn in Alpine cultures at the beginning of the second Iron Age. Dated 450/400 B.C.E..


Pair of triangular lead pendants : Discovered in woman's grave n°5 of the Saint-Jean d’Arves necropolis (Savoie), they are dated approximately 400/450 B.C.E..
At the time of their discovery, they were found on either side of the head and were used either as earrings, or as pendants through which a ribbon was threaded : the ribbon could then be wrapped around the head to hold the hair in place. Yet, the majority of such pendants are usually found as decoration on belts, as can be seen on the complex bronze belt of Bénévent (Hautes-Alpes) and which dates to the IXth C. B.C.E..


Terra cotta statuette : 129mm high, it can be dated to the First or Second Century C.E.. It represents a man's head, coarsely formed, and bears a mysterious expression. Mr. J.J. Hatt has suggested that it may simply be a something made by a local potter for his own amusement.


Guttus, or Roman baby bottle. The pipette projecting from the side allows a small child to suck small quantities of liquid. This type of object is usually found in children's graves from Gallo-Roman times. This particular example , a fine example of Allobrogian pottery, was uncovered in 1968 in a First-Century context. Like the rest of the artifacts and pottery found nearby (mostly dishes) it is perfectly preserved and nearly complete.

 Bronze dog statuette. The animal is represented standing, muzzle forward, ears extended. One of the hind legs is missing. No satisfactory explanation has yet been found to account for the round protuberance on the animal's back. This object, found in Viuz-Faverges, probably dates to the Second Century C.E..


Gold fibula : Discovered in 1973 in Viuz-Faverges, in a First-Century zone next to the sanctuary, this tiny fibula, a mere 17mm high and weighing 1.67 grams is remarkable by its small size, by the material of which it was made (it should be noted that gold fibulae from that time are extremely rare), and by its unusual shape and fine craftsmanship. It is one of the smallest fibulae ever found. Mr. M. FEUGERE speculates that it is a pin or badge that signaled an important social, political, or religious status for its wearer. This exceptional jewel is most likely Gaulish (Celtic), probably regionally if not locally crafted.


Iron sheep shears : this tool was used for shearing sheep. This type of tool was produced from Roman times onwards to the present day. Such tools, of more recent manufacture, can still be found on some farms locally.

It was found in a Third-Century context in Viuz-Faverges, and dates to the time when the vicus was destroyed by barbarian invaders.


Terra-cotta canteen : found in the peristyle of the Thovey mansio in Faverges, it is round and has a well-defined spout and handle. It is most likely from North Africa (Tunisia) and dates from the Third Century C.E.. Probably brought back to the Alps by a legionnaire, its diameter is 270 mm.


Bronze cauldron : uncovered in the peristyle of the Thovey mansio, it is made of a single large sheet of bronze hammered into shape. Its craftsmanship attests to the skill of Gallo-Roman bronzesmiths. Its lip is circled by a large iron band which holds the two side rings in place; these rings were used to suspend the cauldron above the hearth. Its shape is typical of Celtic bronze pots ; it dates however to Gallo-Roman times, and was buried in 270 C.E. in the destruction of the mansio. It bears patches and numerous traces of mending, which suggests that it was already old at the time it was lost. Its diameter is 570 mm and its height is 306 mm.


Roman denarii ("pennies") of emperors Nero, Hadrian, and Volusian. These coins are part of the monetary treasure found in 1971 in the ruins of a home of Vicus Casuaria in Faverges. The pear-formed bronze pot in which these coins were found held 2307 coins, and was most likely hidden at the time of the passage of a roving band of Alamans in 259-260 C.E.. The three coins shown on this page come from the treasure trove. Above, a drachma of Hadrian (117-138) struck in Amesus on the shores of the Black Sea in the year 131.


The emperor Nero is shown on this coin which dates back to his reign, (54-68 C.E.)


By its date the very last (most recent) coin in the treasure, this denarius, which represents the Emperor Antoninus, dates to the year 250, just a few years prior to the destruction of the Thovey mansio. That the treasure contains such a wide variety of coins, spanning several centuries, suggests that it was a coin collection rather than a monetary hoard.


Bronze belt buckle of the «Aquitain» type : Discovered in grave n°56 of the Saint Jean-Baptiste church in Viuz, it is decorated with 10 round embosses and bears very finely engraved geometric patterns. This type of object was probably made in the Loire valley area or in Normandy. According to M. MARTIN, this type of belt buckle can be dated to the beginning of the VIIth Century. It measures 193 mm in length.


Head of Christ carved in a pig femur ; it dates most likely to the 16th Century. This tiny object mau well have been a rosary bead. It was found in one of the graves under the St Jean-Baptiste church in Viuz.


Three-headed ivory ornament : one can recognize Christ, the Virgin and a Death's head. Is it the pommel of a pilgrim's cane, or a (rather large) rosary bead? Its function is not clear. It was found in the XVIIth and XVIIIth Century graves under the St Jean-Baptiste church in Viuz during the digs campaign of 1977-78.
This object can be seen in more detail in the QuickTime VR illustration below.

Three-headed ornament

Tour QuickTime VR

Make the object turn at will by clicking and dragging on the picture.

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The Archeological Museum of Viuz-Faverges

Current digs in Faverges

Les Amis de Viuz-Faverges

La Balme de Thuy

Serveur des musées de Savoie

La Fédération Française d'Archéologie


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Page and images ©1996, 2000 by Robert F. Jeantet

latest update 22-02-2000
end of the Museum - collections page