Treasures of the permanent collection of the
Musée Archéologique de Viuz Faverges

The Museum of Viuz-Faverges is above all a site museum. It is the only museum of its kind in Savoie; its collection chronicles 2500 years of the history of the township through archaeology. Its artifacts come from various digs carried out over the past thirty years: the Châtelard necropolis (1976), the Viuz parish church (1977-78), the Thovey mansio (1981-present), the Viuz sanctuary (1993). In the collection of the museum can be found a magnificent IIIrd C. cauldron, numerous Gallo-Roman objects, beautiful Gaulish jewelry (amber necklaces, metal bracelets, armbands and bronze rings), as well as Mediaeval items from the digs under the church.

- click on an image to see a larger version -


Flat copper axe from Englannaz : This type of axe was used during the « Chalcolithic » (or "Copper Age" 2300-2200 B.C.E.). Interestingly, Ötzi, the Alpine Ice Man who was discovered on the Similaun Glacier in 1991, was carrying an axe of this type. Length : 105 mm ; Width : 42 mm.


Necklace of 189 amber beads : It comes from the No 3 man's grave in Saint-Jean d’Arves (Savoie). The central bead has a diameter of 36 mm. The body was found bedecked in numerous bronze bracelets, as well as a large ring and two iron fibulae which suggest a date of 450/400 B.C.E. The analysis of several bead fragments by the « Amber Research Laboratory » shows that the amber was Baltic in origin, and bears witness to the important commercial contacts that existed in that remote time.


Series of fine striated bronze bracelets : Discovered in situ on the forearms of grave No _ in Saint-Jean d’Arves (Savoie), these bracelets, worn over the right and left wrists are typical of the jewelry worn in Alpine cultures at the start of teh second Iron Age. Date : 450/400 B.C.E.


Pair of triangular lead earrings. Found in woman's grave No 5 of the necropolis of Saint-Jean d’Arves (Savoie), they date back to approximately 450/400 B.C.E.
At the time of their discovery, these objects were found on either side of the head and were used either as earrings or as decorative pendants threaded on a ribbon that was worn around the head. On the other hand, most such lead objects were used as decoration on belts, such as can be seen on the complex bronze belt of the Bénévent (Hautes-Alpes) digs, which date back to the Ninth C. B.C.E.


Terracotta statuette : 129 mm high, it can be dated to the First or Second Century A.D.. It is a fairly crude representation of a human being; its expression is as mysterious as its purpose. Mr. J.J. HATT has suggested that it may simply have been made by a potter for his own amusement.


Guttus or Roman baby bottle: the pipette allows a child to suck small quantities of liquid. This type of object is typically found in children's graves of Gallo-Roman times. This particular bottle, a fine example of Allobrogian pottery, was discovered in 1968 in a First-Century context. Like the rest of the pottery found nearby (dishes in particular), it is perfectly preserved and complete.


Bronze dog : The animal is represented standing, with snout extended and ears upright. This statuette, which was found in Viuz-Faverges, dates back to the Second Century A.D.



Gold fibula : Discovered in 1973 in Viuz-Faverges in a zone next to the sanctuary, (as a farmer was digging a hole to plant a plum tree...) this First-Century fibula is 17mm high and weighs 1,67 g. It is as remarkable by its size and composition (gold fibulae from this period are strikingly rare) as by the intricacy of its detail. It is one of the smallest fibulae ever found.According to M. FEUGERE, it could well be the symbol of an important social, political, or religious position. This jewel, remarkable by the fineness of its craftsmanship, is likely Gaulish in origin, probably regional and perhaps even local in manufacture.


Sheep shears : This tool was used to shear the wool from sheep. This type of shear is still in use today, attesting to the efficiency of its design.

It was found in Viuz-Faverges in a Third-Century A.D. context.


Terracotta canteen : Found in the peristyle of the Thovey villa in Faverges, it is round and has a well-formed handle and spout. This type of object is probably North-African in origin (Tunisia) and can be dated to the Third Century A.D.. It has a diameter of 270 mm.


Bronze cauldron : Found during the excavation of theperistyle of the Thovey villa in Faverges. Beaten from a single large sheet of metal, it bears witness to the craftsmanship of the gallo-roman bronzesmiths. An iron band fastened around the rim holds the two iron rings which were used to hang the cauldron over the hearth. Its shape is typical of Celtic metalwork, though its context suggests a Third-Century A.D. date. Its diameter is 570 mm and its height is 306 mm.


Denarii of Nero, Hadrian, and Volusian. These three coins come from the trove discovered in 1971 in a dwelling of Vicus Casuaria. The bronze pear-shaped vase in which they were found contained 2307 coins, and was apparently hidden at the time of the invasion of the Alamans in 259-260. The images on this page include three coins from the treasure. Above, a drachma of Hardrian (117-138), struck in Amesus, on the coast of the Black Sea, in the year 131.


The Emperor Nero is represented on a coin which dates to his reign (54-68 A.D.)


By its date the most recent coin of the treasure, this denarius, which bears the likeness of Antoninus, dates to the year 250, just a few years before the destruction of the Thovey villa. The fact that such a variety of coins is found in a single treasure suggests that it was more a coin collection than a hoard.


Bronze belt buckle of «Aquitain» type: Discovered in grave No 56 of the Saint Jean-Baptiste church in Viuz / Faverges, it is decorated with ten small embossings and very finely engraved designs. This type of object was likely made in the Loire valley or in Normandy. M. MARTIN dates such objects to the beginning of the Seventh Century A.D.. It is 193 mm long.


Head of Christ carved in a pig thighbone. It dates to approximately the Sixteenth Century. This small object may well have been a rosary bead. It comes from the graves of the Viuz church.

Tricephalic ivory ornament : the three heads represent Christ, the Virgin Mary, and a Death's head. Is it the pommel of a cane or a rosary bead? At present, there is no clear evidence to favour either interpretation. It was found in the Seventeenth and Eighteenth Century graves under the church floor in Viuz during the 1977-78 digs campaign.

You can see a much more detailed verison of this image by clicking on it. Be aware, however, that this detailed image file is very large, about 1MB, and will take two or more minutes to download!


Le Musée archéologique de Viuz Faverges

click hereFouilles actuelles à Faverges

Les Amis de Viuz-Faverges

click hereLa Fédération Française d'Archéologie

La Balme de Thuy

click hereServeur des musées de Savoie


Page and images ©1996, 1999 by Robert F. Jeantet

dernière mise à jour le 18-08-99
fin de la page Musée - collections