Roman Tile – 13 – St Romain en Gal

Capital of the Allobroges

The City of Vienne is one of France’s biggest repositories of Roman Tile work.  Located 35 km (22 miles) South of Lyon, Vienne was originally the capital of the Allobroges, a powerful Gallic tribe controlling the commerce between Provence, Switzerland and Northern Gaul. Conquered in 121 BC, Vienne became a major Commercial and Military asset of the Roman Empire.

Originally, the town was spreading on both sides of the Rhone river. Nowadays, Vienne sits on the Left bank while Saint Romain en Gal sits on the Right one.

Gallo-Roman site of Saint-Romain-en-Gal with heating system with hot air circulation under the floor
Saint Romain en Gal – Hypocaust heating system – a diffferent type of Roman Tile work


The Archeological museum of Saint Romain is the heart of a 7-hectare cultural park
Here you can see the thermal baths, workshops, homes and shops unearthed since 1967. The museum is divided into four areas:

  • History of Vienne in Antiquity
  • Commerce and Craftsmanship
  • Mosaics
  • Daily life in a Roman home.

While some of the mosaics such as the Lycurgus displayed in the Museum are absolutely stunning

The Lycurgus mosaic

I am going to tell you about one very interesting geometric design used by the Gallo Roman mosaicists of the area.

Saint Romain en Gal, Squares and Lozanges Patterns mosaic - Roman Tile - 13
Squares and Lozanges Patterns

As you can see, this pattern is composed of very simple shapes :

  • Squares,
  • Rectangles,
  • Lozanges.

The basic element used to generate the pattern is :

Basic element - RT 013, Saint ROmain en Gal
Saint Romain, basic element

Now, when you look at this design all you see are straight lines. However, when you look at a bigger picture, composed from many of these elements…

Roman Tile  - 13.  A bicolor design made from 16 basic elements
Saint Romain en Gal, 4×4 elements

You begin to see circle like and wavy patterns… The straight lines set at slightly different angles are in fact defining circular shapes absolutely undetectable in the basic element.

aint Romain en Gal Tile-013

Now, this is the kind of things I love when I study these designs. You start with something very basic, bordeline boring, and you end up realizing it has much more potential than what you were thinking at the beginning.

Some people are like that, they look dumb and dull, and when you get to know them better, you come to realize they are actually much more interesting than what you thought they were. (Works both ways though, some people also look very bright when you first meet them, and then…)

So, I encourage you to play with this design, just copy or reproduce the basic design and use your favourite graphic software to generate something cool out of it.

Saint Romain en Gal - Roman Tile - 13 - colorized
Roman Tile – 13 – colorized

I described in my previous post Roman Tile-001 how you can generate in GIMP a big design based on these basic elements I publish.

I encourage you to use these designs (You can also mix several of them) to create your own stuff, fabrics, mugs, cushions,

Have fun, Be safe and keep in touch !


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design, element, geometric, mosaic, museum, roman
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