From the Celts to Today (Albert Naef room)

With the period of the Iron Age, which started in around 800 B.C., the territory of the today's Canton of Vaud became part of history. Greek authors in the 5th century B.C. were the first to mention the territories north of the Alps where the Celts lived. The last millennium B.C. saw major changes that are still visible today: the appearance of writing, coins and the first towns. The Roman conquest intensified these changes still further before the Burgundians and then the Franks (Merovingians and Carolingians) occupied the territory from the 400s to the year 1,000.

1. Gold Torque (Necklace) (detail). Princely Tomb of Payerne "Roverex". Iron Age, around 500 B.C.

Iron Age (800 - 50 B.C.)

The Iron Age is mainly represented by burial archaeology, with rich grave goods. Helvetii (on the Swiss Plateau) and Nantuatae (in the Chablais region) are the first peoples in the Canton who are known to history (in around 100 B.C.). The late Iron Age was marked by major changes: the large necropoleis were abandoned, rural domains, conglomerations and even towns developed, especially in Yverdon, where a rampart was raised in 80 B.C.

2. Iron Axes, Bronze and Ceramic Containers. Eclépens and La Sarraz "Le Mormont". Iron Age, around 100 B.C.

In 2006, the Mormont site was discovered on a huge hill between Eclépens and La Sarraz and it is of exceptional importance. It is neither a dwelling area nor a traditional necropolis but a group consisting of around 300 deep trenches enclosing thousands of objects (ceramic and bronze containers, tools, fragments of carts and glass adornments, as well as grindstones and a few coins). Hundreds of animals, mainly cows, pigs, horses, goats and sheep are present in trenches in the form of remainders of meals.

3. Belt Decorations. Peyres-Possens, Lausanne and Lavigny. Early Middle Ages, 6th to 7th centuries.

The Roman Era and the Early Middle Ages (50 B.C. - 10th century)

The Roman era brought a new way of life, Mediterranean habits, buildings made of carved stone, a language, Latin, writing and the "globalisation" of trade. Religion played a major role in the Roman era. Bronze statuettes were the work of craftspeople who were generally self-employed; they represented either secular subjects taken from Graeco-Roman culture or religious figures.

4. Model of the rock shelter of Vallon des Vaux (Chavannes-le-Chêne). Late Roman Era and Early Middle Ages (between 400 and 800 A.D.).

The Early Middle Ages, with the arrival of the Burgundians in 443, is again mainly known through tombs, before the affirmation of the role of churches and parishes which are at the origin of most of today's villages. In 534, the Burgundian territory became part of the Frankish Kingdom until the creation of the independent Kingdom of Burgundy in 888. The depositing of weapons in certain tombs from the 6th century onwards, which was unknown in Romano-Burgundian burial practices, probably indicates Frankish influence.

5. Pewter Measure (Major Davel), Soup Bowl with the Monogram "GR" (Gabriel de Rumine), Brass Plate from the 100th Regiment of Infantry (Napoleon 1st).

From the 11th Century to the 20th Century

Setting up an ecclesiastical organization, by creating bishoprics and then a network of parishes, attests to the rise of Christianity and later the power of the Church. In the 13th century, a large part of the Vaud region, which was in the hands of the Bishop of Lausanne and secular lords, came under the rule of Savoy and was given a real administrative structure. In 1536, Their Excellencies of Bern conquered the territory and imposed the reformed religion.

6. Construction Tool, Lifting Tongs. Church of Saint-Saphorin, 16th century.

Independence was proclaimed in 1798 but it turned into submission to the French Directoire. In 1803, today's Canton of Vaud was founded and Lausanne was chosen as the capital.
Archaeological finds made in churches, châteaux, urban areas and villages are supplemented by historical collections: the house, its layout and the way of life of its inhabitants are illustrated by various objects of daily life. A display case is also dedicated to Jean-Abraham Noverraz, a great man of Vaud who was at the service of Napoleon 1st.

  1. Photo Credits: 1,2,3,5,6 : Yves André © MCAH - 4 : Fibbi-Aeppli © MCAH
  2. Model : Hugo Lienhard