In Aix-les-Bains, a student makes an exceptional archaeological discovery in the city’s old thermal baths


The Savoy spa town still has many surprises in store. Thanks to an archeology student, an important preventive excavation site brought to light the expansion of its thermal baths. At least three pools have been discovered, including “Roman baths” and pipes dating back several millennia.


He holds the Roman treasure in his hands. Barbara Chapel is a Master’s student in archeology in Lyon, specializing in ancient remains in Aix-les-Bains. “That’s tile mortar, that’s what the Romans used for all hydraulic structures like aqueducts, reservoirs, thermal baths, pools. When you see something like that, there’s no doubt, it’s ancient“, he says with a smile.

When she heard about the construction of a hotel near the thermal baths, she decided to go there. Then he discovers that the mechanical machines in action go on the new pool of the Roman baths, previously unknown.

Archaeologists called this circular pool “spa”. A resting place where the Romans relaxed in the warm water, with an amazing view of the lake. “It was a place that had to be more intimate than the other big pools, the ground is pretty rough but you have to imagine it’s all covered in marble veneer or limestone slabs,” explains Luc Berthoud, archeology student.

These baths teach us a little more about Roman grooming and well-being routines. Under the pool, archaeologists discovered small pieces of green mosaic. The spa was richly decorated. “In this pipe we also found glass furniture, that is, small fragments of vases, which were certainly used for ointments and all the balms that can be used in baths.” explains Clément Mani, an archaeologist in the department of Savoie. The expert further specifies that these baths could also have a religious and medicinal character. In ancient times, the Romans associated springs with the divine.

Mapping and modeling

A total of three basins were discovered during these excavations, including “Roman baths” and pipes dating back several millennia. This new find makes it possible to further expand the area of ​​the search for ancient thermal baths. “We have just found the northern extension of the thermal baths, which are preserved in the building of the national thermal baths, so we are increasing the area of ​​these ancient remains.”rejoices Clément Mani.

Several students came to help map and write down all the structures. 3D modeling in progress. Some pieces are also taken and samples will be analyzed to better understand the circulation of the thermal waters. “We were able to recover basic information that allows us to place this site in the ancient period of Aix-les-Bains”, Clément Mani explains further.

After two weeks of excavation work, the construction site of the hotel will start again. The collected items should join the future Roman Baths Museum, which will be located next door.


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