3D model explains why the largest temple in Roman Gaul collapsed

3D model explains why the largest temple in Roman Gaul collapsed
3D model explains why the largest temple in Roman Gaul collapsed

French archaeologists have recreated in 3D a majestic Roman temple about 1900 years old, found near the city of Strasbourg, and were convinced that it was erected with an incredible mistake for builders of this level.

The report is published on the website of the National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research of France (Inrap). The ruins of the monumental temple were discovered back in 2014. It was erected on the banks of the Oise River near a small town called Session.

In ancient times, a Roman settlement was located here. According to the surviving architecture, scientists have established that the complex occupied an area of about 1, 6 hectares and served as a place of worship in the II-III centuries AD. Apparently, it was built on a large scale and was supposed to become one of the religious centers of Roman culture on the Gaulish land.

Archaeologists managed to recreate this complex using 3D technology. Digitization of archaeological data showed that the main building of the temple was surrounded by a long and reliable wall. In the center, apparently, stood a massive sculpture of some kind of deity.

Fragments of multi-colored marble and balustrade elements found during excavations testify to the high quality of the decor. The temple was equipped with a large rectangular pool. Archaeologists have discovered many metal cult objects, furniture and coins.

The entrance ran through a monumental facade 10.5 meters high and 70 meters long. It is the largest such structure in Roman Gaul. The facade included 17 arches. When studying it, metal brackets were found, with the help of which ancient builders fastened blocks and elements, sometimes made of different materials.

Despite the scale and high quality of the work, this temple amazed scientists with a mistake that the Romans managed to make. Archaeologists say that it is not typical for the builders of that period. Simulations showed that this complex collapsed, having stood for probably only a few decades. Although it was clearly built for centuries.

The fact is that the complex was built not just on the banks of the river, but on sandstone. The right edge of the façade was originally located just a few centimeters from the place where the rocks could and may have occurred. A computer model showed that the majestic facade in this case could fall apart in a couple of minutes.

Scanning and creating a digital model raised several questions. For example, scientists do not yet understand how Roman architects, known for their know-how, could have made such a monstrous design mistake.

Possible answers are the assumption that the complex was being built on the orders of someone in a great rush. It is also possible that inexperienced bricklayers were entrusted with its construction.

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