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Les travertins anthropiques, entre Histoire, Archéologie et Environnement : étude géoarchéologique du site antique antique de Jebel Oust, Tunisie

Abstract : Travertine, known as lapis tiburtinus during Roman times, are continental limestones precipitated in calcareous environments from thermal waters of hot springs (travertine) or cool waters of karstic springs (calcareous tufa). This phenomenon is well-known during Classical Antiquity and had been described by several ancient authors (Strabo, Pliny the Elder, Vitruvius) who depicted a stone that forms extremely rapidly, a stone that outlines the landscape and which is largely used for construction (e.g. The Colosseum in Roma, the Greek temple at Segesta in Sicily). These deposits are widespread on Earth’s surface showing various morphologies and are great sedimentary records of climatic and hydrologic conditions. Thus they represent valuable proxies for palaeoenvironmental studies. The notion of anthropogenic travertine takes into consideration human impact on these deposits and on travertine-depositing waters. It is documented by the study of the roman site of Jebel Oust, Tunisia, where the exploitation of a hot spring is attested from the first century A.D. to the end of Late Antiquity. The site is characterized by a temple settled around the spring’s vent associated with Roman baths located downstream and supplied with hot water via an aqueduct. Our geoarchaeological approach brings to light the anthropization of the regional geosystem expressed by an entire control over the hot spring and its associated deposits. Furthermore the study of travertines preserved in the archaeological structures reveals precious and original information about water cult and bathing practices during Antiquity (thermal rooms function, water management, repair phases, states of neglect and decay). Moreover, geoarchaeology of anthropogenic travertine intends to offer a new approach of research‘s problematic dealing with water managements and integrating human impact on travertine’s development.
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Julien Curie. Les travertins anthropiques, entre Histoire, Archéologie et Environnement : étude géoarchéologique du site antique antique de Jebel Oust, Tunisie. Archéologie et Préhistoire. Université de Bourgogne, 2013. Français. ⟨tel-02465673⟩

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