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Ancient Monuments in France

Nature volume 140, page 613 (09 October 1937) | Download Citation



AT the close of September the Commission des Monuments Historiques of France completed a hundred years of its existence. Although at one time subjected to no little criticism, instructed and otherwise, since the War, when it has included among its members the most distinguished of French archaeologists, its activities, both in the preservation and protection of buildings of historic interest and in its care for the antiquities of France generally, have deserved the highest praise. Notwithstanding limitations, of which the members of the Commission are even more fully conscious than expert opinion among the outside public, its control, advice and assistance in bringing to light, preserving and making accessible the evidence from the prehistoric sites of France, which is now a world-wide possession of archæological science, has earned the gratitude of every student of antiquity. Even better known to the travelling public, however, are the efforts which have preserved from decay and no less from vandalism the structures of the Middle Ages and of the Roman period. Among the latter the wonderful series of monuments of Roman culture, such as those at Orange, at Nimes and at Aries, can never be forgotten by anyone who has passed through Provence. Among the latest achievements of the Commission is the excavation of the Roman theatre of Vienne, south of Lyons, which is not an amphitheatre of the more usual type, but is cut out of the side of the hill and necessitated an excavation more than sixty feet deep to bring to light the lowest tier of seats. The completion of the excavation is to be celebrated by a number of theatrical performances to be given on the stage next year similar to those now given annually in the amphitheatre at Orange.

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