The Ancient Past of the Pays de Retz
Around two and a half million years ago our early ancestor invented the first tool: a stone, which he adapted, by chipping, into a cutting tool. During the years which followed, man developed his working tools until, in the mesolithic period, around 8000 B.C. he vas using small flint instruments. In the neolithie period, around 4000 B.C. he changed from being a huntsman and fisherman into a cultivator of the land. He reared animals such as the dog, ox and sheep; ancient bones from these animals have been discovered around this village, Machecoul.
Pottery also appeared at this time, as did dolmens and menhirs - around one hundred of which have been counted in the Pays de Retz. Dolmens were collective tombs for the remains of the villagers. Menhirs are more enigmatic in their significance; a small menhir is to be seen in this room. At the foot of this menhir vere found the cremated remains of a man and close by were his possessions, pottery, spoons, flint tools.
Towards the end of the Bronze Age, around 800 B.C. salt began to be extracted from the sea and was being dried in red clay bowls in special ovens.
Around. 600 B.C. the Celts brought iron - stone tools were abandoned and pottery changed in shape and design. The salt industry was in full swing.
Trade in salt was carried on with Rome in exchange for wine, in amphora jars.
With the arrival of the Romans, dwellings were built out of stone along with wells at St. Père and Rezé, with aqueducts at Arthon and Touvois.
The first towns, such as Rezé, appeared. Excavations in this area have uncovered examples of jewellery - rings, brooches, buttons and even shoes. This civilisation disappeared brutally with invasions and the Merovingian era is represented by many cemeteries, including La Plaine and Machecoul. In one case in this room note the 6th century skull with évidence of a blow to the head - many of the skeletons of thie period show evidence of violence.
A scale model (1/50), has, just like the actual dolmen, been constructed out of sandstone and local shale. Certain areas have been covered vith transparent material to enable the layout of the corridors and funeral chambers to be seen. This dolmen is an excellent example of the collective tombs erected during the neolithic era (3500 - 1800 B.C.). There are two main corridors, leading to lateral chambers. It vas excavated in 1840 by Verger who discovered a large quantity of broken pottery, animal's teeth and a flint axe. In 1976 it was restored and further excavated, when more vases were discovered. The monument is being restored after a campaign led by the «Amis du Pays de Retz», our association.
The Mousseaux Dolmen.
Pays de Retz