Known for its ancient occupation, the origins of Chateau Bas date back to protohistory. The study of a water supply chamber on the outskirts of the Temple that channelled water from a karstic source revealed a typically Hellenistic style proving the anteriority of this site compared to the Gallo-Roman period.
The Temple ruins have been classified as a historical monument since 1840 thanks to Prosper Mérimée, inspector of historical monuments from 1834 to 1860. Until a few years ago, the Temple of Chateau Bas remained a mystery for the specialists. The generally accepted theory was that this temple built near a spring was in fact an isolated sanctuary or, on the contrary, associated with a large Gallo Roman villa.
At that time no excavations had been carried out near the Temple for the simple reason that the researchers were more interested in the Temple itself as a monument rather than its function during antiquity. The first large scale archaeological studies were carried out only in the early 1920’s by Jules Formigé. This excavation had the merit of liberating the monument from the grip of the vegetation and clearing some structures in the surroundings like the semi-circular wall of the peribole that frame the monument to the south. It was on the basis of these findings that archaeologists were able to develop a reflective research program and an appropriate excavation strategy.
The discovery of a cemetery of the “Community of Saint Césaire” during archaeological excavations for the TGV in 1995, as well as an urban road during the renovation of the cellar in 1999, are elements providing material proof of a true urbanization of the site during ancient time.
The successive archaeological discoveries made it possible to reconstruct the “puzzle” of the ancient city. In 2010 an excavation carried out on a plot located east of the Temple revealed a craft zone dedicated to textile, weaving and dying fabrics. A magnificent dolium* nearly intact was extracted and is in permanent exhibition in the winery museum.
*A dolium (Latin plural : dolia) is a jar of ancient Italy with a capacity of up to 1200 litres which served as a recipient for wine or oil or cereal.
In May 2015 excavations carried out on a plot located to the north of the cellar revealed the probable existence of a large Gallo-Roman villa. We await the archaeologist’s report to find out more. Clearly there are many treasures still to be discovered in this magical place.