The Roman Heritage, Vaison

Vaison is noted for the persistence of elements from Roman times, through the first millennium and the middle ages, to the present, a record of continuous habitation that spans 2000 years. One of the first things we saw at Vaison was the excavation of part of the ancient Roman city of Vasio, which has some extremely finely preserved structures. It is adjacent to the Musée Théo Desplans.

Roman mosaic
Original tile

The Romans were invested heavily in the engineering of human comfort. The Pont du Gard that we visited earlier is an example. Here is another one:


We saw something like this in 1990 on a trip through the border country between England and Scotland. The Romans also built public baths, some with heated water. And it was not just prosaic civil engineering. It seems as if the Romans wanted the same kind of amenities wherever they settled. As at Arles and Nimes, so also here in Vaison, there was a theater:

Roman theater at Vaison, under reconstruction

Theaters in Roman times presented at different times plays, ceremonies and pageants. The theater at Vaison was under renovation during our visit. As at Arles, railings have been put in place; but the foundation is clearly ancient. This theater, on the opposite side of the centre ville from La Villasse, is now used to stage annual choral festivals.

Many of the artifacts in the Musée Théo Desplans come from the theater. Here is another example:


This is a statue of Domitian, a late first century emperor. It was customary to decorate theaters with statues of heroes and emperors. The archaeological findings show that the city of Vasio was important and civilized in ancient times, already with many of the elements of  modern life.

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