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All information gathered first-hand, since 1995



The Fontbouisse culture (also known as the Fontbouisse civilization) was named for the people who lived in the eastern Languedoc region from about 2800 BC, during the Chalcolithic Period.

The culture was named after the hamlet of Fontbouisse, 2 km northeast of Villevieille (beside Sommières), where archeological digs uncovered a mss of artifacts, including cabins, burial sites, tombs, ceramics, tools, and a unique type of Bronze-age habitat.

The late inhabitants were called Fontbuxians.

Area of Fontbouisse Culture

The area where Fontbouisse habitation and artifacts have been excavated covers a large arc to the north of Montpellier, as well as the Mediterranean coastal villages of Mauguio to the east of Montpellier and Portiragnes, 60 km southwest of Montpellier, between Béziers an Agde.

Towns and villages where Fontbouisse remains have been discovered include:

Sauve
Saint Mathieu-de-Tréviers
Villevieille

Fontbouisse Settlements

Site Town Discoveries
Les Pins Aubais apsidal houses - date: 2477-2213 BC
Boussargues Argeliers a village surrounded by a 1 metre-thick rampart with towers and encompassing elongated houses. The towers are erroneously made out to be corbelled huts (or "capitelles") by the diggers; the reconstructed "round structure" on the site is a figment of their imagination
Le Rocher du Causse Claret a curtain-wall with towers running across a spur-like cliff; elongated houses behind - date: 2500-1800 BC. The towers are confused with "capitelles"
Le Grand Devois de Figaret Guzargues an enclosure wall of upstanding slabs
La Capoulière 1 Mauguio a settlement with sunken structures and ditches; earthen (instead of dry stone) structures, the village being set in a plain (instead of a limestone plateau)
Lamourre Moulès-et-Baucels a 1.70 metre high enclosure wall (a highly exaggerated reconstruction, though)
Les Mourquettes Portiragnes a settlement with ditches
Les Vautes Saint Gély-du-Fesc a settlement occupied throughout the late Neolithic period and the Copper Age. Exhibits the prototype of the "garrigue"-type Fontbuxian house
Grand Coucouyon Saint Hippolyte-de-Montagu (30 km northeast of Nîmes) a hamlet with a dozen houses, clearly visible on the surface.
Saint Martin-de-Londres Saint Martin-de-Londres houses
Lébous Chateau Saint Mathieu-de-Tréviers a village surrounded by walls and towers
Pouget 1 Souvignargues houses
Vailhauqués houses
Fontbouisse Villevieille The namesake site: as many as 31 houses unearthed; traces of wattle-and-daub encountered
Cambous Viols-en-Laval apsidal houses dated between 2700 and 2300 BC. Evidence of restoration, enlargement and alteration work. The apsidal house reconstructed on the site is fictitious: its thatch roof ends up with the same pitch as a canal-tile roof!

Habitats

The Fontbuxian houses are often depicted as dry stone constructions similar to bories. M. Lassure (see Sources, below) says they had timber roofs, thatch coverings and earthen partitions. The 1.5-metre-high apsidal structures had a steep thatch-covered saddleback roof restion on a central line of posts bearing a ridge piece. The dry-stone walls were double facing with a rubble-filled interior, meant as a screen rather than a bearer wall.

Fontbouisse Points

A common artifact found at all (or most) of the Fontbuxien sites is a leaf-shaped silex blade (pointe foliacée). Two good examples are on display at the Nîmes Museum of Naturel History.

Fontbouisse Pottery

Fontbouisse pottery is finely finished in a variety of forms, decorated with complicated incised motifs: garland patterns, chessboard patterns, etc.). The larger vessels have been referred to as bell beakers, and have been linked to a Bell Beaker Culture in Mediterranean France.



Sources

    • Christian Lassure, about the dry-stone Fontbouisse sites (www.pierreseche.com/questions_et_reponses_2004.html)
    • www.pierreseche.com/mythe_boussargues.html (about the site at Argelliers)
    • www.culture.gouv.fr/culture/actualites/rapports/archeo-preventive2006/tome2-languedoc.pdf
    • hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/docs/00/08/73/11/PDF/Historical_Model_Bell_Beakers_-_2004.pdf