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Fermes et villae romaines en Gaule chevelue: La difficile confrontation des sources classiques et des données archéologiques*

  • Michel Reddé (a1)
Résumé
Résumé

Les termes de «ferme indigène» et de «villa» romaines, souvent opposés par les historiens, ressortissent à un débat historiographique ancien, mais toujours actuel car jamais véritablement tranché. En Gaule du Nord, ils renvoient notamment aux travaux déjà anciens de Roger Agache, dont les prospections aériennes avaient donné à voir un paysage peuplé de grandes villae, volontiers considérées comme de vastes domaines aristocratiques par opposition à de petits établissements de tradition indigène. Cette image a fini peu ou prou par s'imposer, donnant l'impression d'une mutation rapide et radicale des systèmes agraires du Nord de la Gaule après la conquête. Malgré de nombreuses tentatives de correction, la notion d'une économie agricole fondée sur la productivité des grands domaines reste dominante dans la pensée des historiens. Cet article se propose de rappeler la difficulté d'appréhender, à travers les sources classiques, la complexité des campagnes de l'Antiquité, afin de mieux examiner l'apport récent des grands décapages de l'archéologie préventive et les problèmes d'interprétation posés par l'intrication de nombreux établissements ruraux, dont la taille et le luxe ne constituent pas nécessairement des indicateurs pertinents de productivité.

Abstract

The terms “native farm” and “Roman villa,” often contrasted by historians, stem from a long-standing and still-unsettled historiographical debate. In northern Gaul, they particularly evoke the work of Roger Agache, whose aerial prospections showed a landscape populated by large villae that were readily interpreted as great aristocratic estates in contrast to small native settlements. This view became more or less dominant, giving the impression that the Roman conquest swiftly and radically altered the agrarian system of northern Gaul. In spite of many attempts to correct it, the idea of an agricultural economy based on the production of large estates remains widely accepted among historians. This paper offers a reminder of how difficult it is to apprehend the complex situation of ancient rural landscapes through the lens of classical sources. It then goes on to consider the recent contribution of rescue archaeology and the interpretative problems posed by the entanglement of numerous rural settlements whose size and luxury are not necessarily relevant indicators of productivity.

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L'expression «Gaule chevelue» est la traduction du latin Gallia Comata, par opposition à Gallia Togata («Gaule en toge») qui désigne le Midi, plus romanisé. Elle ne s'applique pas uniquement au Nord du pays puisqu'elle concerne tout l'Ouest, voire le Sud-Ouest.

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Annales. Histoire, Sciences Sociales
  • ISSN: 0395-2649
  • EISSN: 1953-8146
  • URL: /core/journals/annales-histoire-sciences-sociales
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