The ruins rest atop older foundations that may date to the Roman Era.
A routine construction project in southern France has turned up the remains of an old Romanesque abbey near the current Sainte-Marie Abbey Church. The structure is said to show innovative architectural techniques meant to alleviate seasonal flooding from the nearby Rhône River.
According to the French news outlet Le Figaro, the construction was meant to turn a small group of houses into a public space. These plans have been halted, however, after they discovered the centuries old foundations of the abbey. These foundations are now being studied by experts, as they were found to have unique 19th-century modifications to solve their flooding problems.
Artnet explains that the building was integrated with flood levels with some walls added to block water. Other signs of modification include the sealing of windows and doors on the lower levels. The site is still under study and is being carbon dated to determine its true age. The dating will also help them determine when the abbey was abandoned, as few records of this church building have survived.
While the architecture is significant for the era of the abbey, experts hope it will provide historical insights as well. Experts believe that the foundations of the abbey rest on the remains of a Roman-era house. If this is true then the site could date back further than a millennium.