Roman-era trash dump containing naked Venus statue and other artifacts unearthed in France

In a Roman-era quarry that had been converted into a garbage landfill, archaeologists discovered a treasure collection of antiquities, including two sculptures of the deity Venus.

A treasure collection of up to 1,800-year-old relics, including Venus statuettes, a potter's oven, coins, and clothing pins, have been found by archaeologists in France in a unique setting: a Roman shale mine that was later converted into a garbage dump in the area that is now Rennes.

Rennes, which is in the northwest of France, was established in the first century A.D. as Condate Riedonum, a Roman settlement. A large quantity of stone was required to construct homes, walls, and public structures. Archaeologists from the French National Institute for Preventive Archaeological Research (Inrap) revealed earlier this month that they had discovered a pit that was probably important in the construction of Roman Rennes while conducting excavations in advance of a development project.

Researchers discovered a Roman-era rock excavation site that was more than 6.5 feet (2 meters) deep and was planned out in phases. From this site, the Romans removed schist slabs, a metamorphic rock that was frequently used in ancient building construction.

According to Jason Farr, a Roman archaeologist at Saint Mary's University in Halifax, Canada, "the Romans are famous for developing quarries all over the Mediterranean." The majority of quarries in the Roman world would have been local concerns, concentrated on providing construction stone in quantity to surrounding cities and fields because the concrete walls preferred by the Romans needed a large lot of stone, according to Farr, a specialist in ancient quarries who was not involved in the current discovery.

In the second century A.D., after all of the stone had been extracted, the mine was shut down and turned into a sizable garbage landfill. The clay statuettes, including two that show Venus in various positions, as well as numerous pot and plate pieces, a few coins, some clothing pins, and other artifacts were found by Inrap researchers. Venus, who was revered as the deity of love during the Roman era, was closely linked to the emperors and frequently represented Roman authority.

A fragment of the mother-goddess Venus genetrix, who is depicted with her body covered in cloth, was discovered during the quarry dig. Venus Anadyomene, who rose from the sea, is the second and more full illustration. She is naked and is wringing the water from her tresses with her right hand.

Quarries were frequently reused because of how close they were to towns, according to Farr. "Open pit quarries were the perfect places to dump trash."

The Rennes pit had been fully filled in by the Middle Ages (14th to 15th centuries). The remnants of wooden structures, ovens, and wells discovered by Inrap researchers indicate that the region was repurposed for the manufacture of crafts. Additionally, a water supply pipe from the 17th century that went beneath a well-known boarding school for females was discovered.

The Rennes quarry is significant for what it can reveal to archaeologists about stone extraction techniques, chiseling tools, structure, and administration of the area during the expansion of a Roman settlement, in addition to its collection of ancient relics.

Farr stated that it is regrettable that so few Roman-era mines for "mundane" building stone have been discovered, given the importance of the local construction market. He said that the recently found Rennes quarry "is all the more exciting because of its reuse as a trash dump, which is a veritable gold mine of information on ancient life, and there really is a lot we can learn here."