(Thésée) and POUILLÉ Loir-et-Cher,
The village of Thésée is on the right
bank of the Cher, midway between St. Aignan and
Montrichard. Opposite, on the other side of the river,
is the village of Pouillé. On the Peutinger Table
is the name of one of the stations on the Caesarodunum
Avaricum route between Caesarodunum (Tours) and
Gabris (Gièvres). Excavations now in progress on the
latter site reveal that it was an important pottery-manufacturing center.
At Les Mazelles, W of the modern Thésée, is one of
the most important ancient monuments in Gaul, a rectangular building, A (44 x 13.5 m), oriented E-W. Its walls are 5-6 m high and built of a core of mortared
rubble faced with small stones with interlacing bands of
brick. The building consists of two rooms of different
periods: the larger one (38 m long), to the W, is older.
There are also two small rectangular pavilions connected
by a gallery and joined to the S facade, one at the W
end of the large room, the other where it meets the small
Some have thought that this building was at the back
of a huge rectangular courtyard that had a series of
rooms along its N side, but excavations since 1965 have
shown a very different plan. There are three distinct
buildings, oriented differently. The SE building, B, has
been thoroughly explored. It has two adjacent parts. The
N section consists of a large square room ca. 13 m on
a side, with three small rooms in front of it to the W.
The S section, its facade turned slightly to the E, consists
of two rectangular rooms of different sizes separated by
a N-S wall. Building C, to the SW, consists of one square
room near the surrounding wall, which at this point has
a monumental gate opening to the W.
Probably the three buildings stood within this common
surrounding wall, which is clearly visible to the W and S,
but has not yet been located to the E. The ground between the three buildings, which slopes steeply from N to
S, has never been flattened or terraced. Excavations inside
buildings A and B have revealed no archaeological strata,
nor has any object been found to date the complex. The
skeleton of a horse was buried inside building A.
The masonry is generally a core of mortared rubble
faced with small blocks, with iron joints, and interlaced
with layers of brick. But opus spicatum appears in the
same layer, cutting across the rectangular masonry. The
foundation bases are on different levels. The roofing,
lighting, and movement inside the buildings also pose
difficult questions. The great room in building A is
reached by a door in the middle of the S facade, and
there was a second door on the small W side. The upper
part of the walls are pierced by a regular row of windows. It has been pointed out that these arrangements
are normally found in basilicas, yet there is no trace of
an inner colonnade, and it is hard to imagine a framework with only a single span. The small E room seems
to have been reached only from the larger one. The two
facade pavilions are not connected to the outside in any
way. Despite these difficulties, building A looks like a
villa with a galleried facade of the familiar type represented, for instance, by the villa of Mayen. Buildings B and C are probably outbuildings.
Judging from the masonry construction, Les Mazelles
seems to have been built no earlier than the end of the
2d c. Excavations since 1961 at Pouillé on the left bank
of the Cher have revealed an earlier form of the settlement. This is an industrial vicus where nine potter's
kilas have been unearthed. The population lived in large
rectangular houses with cellar-sanctuaries similar to those
at Alesia. A little square fanum was surrounded by a
polygonal wall. This village lasted from the beginning of
the 1st c. to the end of the 2d c. It was then abandoned,
probably as a result of floods, and reoccupied in the 3d c.
by poor villagers who buried their dead inside the abandoned buildings. Another potter's kiln has been found, very well preserved, in the middle of the village of Thésée.
A. Grenier, Manuel d'archéologie gallo-romaine
I, 2 (1931) Archéologie du sol, 784ff; II, 1 (1934)
Les routes, 205-8; G. Gaume, Rev. Arch du Centre
(1965) 101-23; id. & B. Hoffmann, ibid. 6 (1967) 291-304; Gallia
26, 2 (1968) 339-40.
G. C. PICARD