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BARZAN (“Tamnum”) Charente Maritime, France.

In the place known as Le Fâ, ca. 1000 m from the present-day N bank of the Gironde, there is a Gallo-Roman sanctuary consisting of a temple, a theater, baths, and a silted-up waterfront, the whole covering some 30 ha. The site has been identified with the ancient Tamnum mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary and the Peutinger Table, but this identification is still contested. The importance of the site is due above all to its position. It was the S port of the civitas of the Santones, a stage along the commercial route from the Mediterranean to the Atlantic by way of the Gironde, and a way-station in the coastal trade well served by its partly artificial little port. it was also a rural sanctuary for the people of the surrounding area. its remains attest its prosperity from the 1st to the 3d c. A.D. By the time of its destruction (end of 3d c. ?) a small urban settlement had developed around the port, in the area now occupied by the La Fosse Perat marsh.

The temple: the podium is a massive circular construction 36 m in diameter and 3 m high, with three steps at the base. it is faced with small blocks. On the E side is a rectangular projection 16 m wide, the remains of the steps leading to the entrance and the vestibule, which opened behind six columns or pillars. The circular outside wall, with the steps at its base, carried a stylobate made of large slabs. it is connected by radiating walls to the wide foundation of the cella, which has an exterior diameter of 21 m, and 15.4 m on the interior. The wall of the cella was ornamented inside and outside by 14 Corinthian half-columns or pilasters, the stylobates of which have been found. The 4.5 m ambulatory surrounding the cella was covered with gray cement, and the cella was paved with green and pink marble. An underground room lay under the pavement in the W part of the cella. The whole building lay within a rectangular peribolos composed of two parallel walls.

A forum probably existed in the axis of the temple, as at Vandeuvre or Sanxay. The forum proper must have begun outside the wall of the peribolos, 40 m from the entrance to the sanctuary. A base has been found there inscribed C. CAECILIVS / GALERIA / CIVILIS MART.

Some 60 m SE of the temple are the partially excavated baths. A large caldarium (15 x 10 m) and a square room above a hypocaust (laconicum?) flanked by two small rooms with paved tubs (frigidaria?) have been identified. Some of the supports of the hypocaust are in the form of open pyramids (cf. St. Bertrand de Comminges). A gutter runs E of the building.

Remains of a theater have been found 800 m E of the temple. Soundings have reached the base of the tiers and the stage wall. The large size of the orchestra is comparable with that at Sanxay.

An aqueduct, running E-W 300 m from the village of Barzan, consists of a vaulted gallery 2 m high and 2 m wide, with a 50 cm walkway on either side. it has a circular opening about every 30 m.


A. Planchet et al., Le Fâ de Talmont, port gallo-romain de Saintonge (1944); L. Basalo, “Le temple du moulin du Fâ à Barzan, près Talmont,” Gallia 3 (1944) 141-65; F. Eygun, Gallia 15 (1957) 211-13; 21 (1963) 439; 23 (1965) 355; 25 (1967) 246.


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