At the 2011 conference of the Société Française d’Etude de la Céramique Antique en Gaule (SFECAG) in Arles, Philippe Bet gave a rather worrying talk about the escalating destruction of Roman Pottery kilns and associated archaeological sites in Lezoux. The local authorities have long disregarded the national and international importance of this 130 hectares site, but this neglect has taken a more worrying turn recently and several housing developments have gone ahead without proper archaeological investigations or care. In 1994, a thorough assessment by P. Bet, R. Brulet and others had established various archaeological sensitive spots within the city of Lezoux. This document proved fundamental to the development of an urban strategy specific to Lezoux taking into consideration archaeological remains. Unfortunately this urban plan seems to be largely ignored now.
The SFECAG Committee decided to write a letter of protest which was published on their website on the 7th of June 2011. In this letter the SGRP is listed as one of the organizations they were seeking support from. The matter was raised at this year’s SGRP annual conference in Amsterdam and the assembled international specialists were shocked to hear about the destruction of various archaeological sites in the town of Lezoux, At the AGM, on the 24th of June 2011, SGRP members voted unanimously to protest against this destruction and we therefore publish this letter in support of the SFECAG.
The SGRP Committee has also composed and signed a letter of protest in French which has been emailed to Lucien Rivet, president of the SFECAG.
You can find the SFECAG letter and a film of Philippe Bet’s talk on the SFECAG website: http://sfecag.free.fr/
If you scroll towards the bottom of the front page and click on “PROTESTATION SOLENNELLE “Lezoux” under the “ANNONCES/PARUTION/NOUVEAUTÉS” heading, you will find a link to a PDF copy of the letter and a link to Philippe Bet’s talk.
The letter is as follows:-
Study Group for Roman Pottery
Protest against the destruction of archaeological remains at the site of Lezoux (Puy-de-Dôme, France)
At this year’s annual conference of the Study Group for Roman Pottery (SGRP), in Amsterdam, the assembled international specialists were shocked to hear about the destruction of various archaeological sites in the town of Lezoux, At their AGM, on the 24th of June 2011, SGRP members voted unanimously to protest against this destruction, We therefore publish this letter in support of the SFECAG.
The Study Group wishes to emphasize the international importance of the site of Lezoux, where workshops produced a range of Roman pottery. Lezoux products were distributed across the whole of the Roman Empire, an area which today encompasses most of the modern European Union, and beyond. The Lezoux ceramics, particularly the samian ware, are therefore part of a common European heritage. They, and their production sites, provide a unique and irreplaceable source of information on chronology and commerce across the Roman Empire. Any impediment to the appropriate recording, study and publication of archaeological remains in Lezoux will therefore have international consequences and implications.
The Study Group wishes to convey its profound concern regarding the apparent lack of coherent, long-term planning regulation in the town of Lezoux, and the consequent potential loss of internationally significant knowledge. We therefore call on the relevant local, regional and national authorities to act to stop further damage to the archaeological heritage of the town, in line with the European Convention on the Protection of the Archaeological Heritage.
8th October 2011
Jane Evans, SGRP President
and the SGRP Committee:
Alex Beeby, Ted Connell,
Gwladys Monteil, Ian Rowlandson,
Andrew Souter, Cathy Tester & Jane Timby