France Archaeology – Pre-Roman Period

France Archaeology – Pre-Roman Period

a) Greek Gaul. – In Marseilles, the war destructions carried out by the Germans made it possible after 1945 to explore the Greek colony in the old port district. The Greek beach was found and the steps of a Hellenistic theater and the pavement of an agora were brought to light. The ancient coast was less advanced than today because the Lacydon has been silted up, it seems, since the Roman era. The pottery appears abundant from the beginning of the sixth century. to. C., which confirms the traditional date of the foundation of the colony by the Phocians: Ionic, Aeolian, Attic pottery, archaic statuettes, together with local imitations. The Greek wall and the primitive acropolis have yet to be traced. (For the Roman era see below).

In the delta of the Rhône, in Saint-Blaise, a Marseille plant was discovered in 1935 on a rocky promontory between two ponds, protected on the part of the land by a mighty wall in cut stones dating back to the 5th or 4th century. to. C.; the excavations were completed in 1947. The foundation seems to date back to the beginnings of the colonization of Marseilles and the construction of the wall reveals Greek-Punic influences, probably coming from Sicily.

In Saint-Remy in Provence, a district of the Hellenistic city of Glanum has been completely excavated (see, in this App.).

Hyères was recognized as the site of the Greek colony of Olbia and the Greek wall of large blocks was brought to light in 1946. The belief is therefore increasingly affirming that the Greek colonies in Gaul had a difficult life, always threatened by the natives firmly established in their oppidas.

b) Independent Gaul. – Oppidum of Ensérune: the excavation that had begun in 1914 was resumed above all from 1943 and has returned an abundant funerary material in which Iberian (4th century BC) and Celtic (3rd century BC) influences subsequently predominate. C.). Several successive walls have been recognized, the oldest of which dates back to the 5th century. to. C. Stone houses with poor architecture have been excavated: simple houses each containing its silos or its dolium. The Greek influence is very weak there (only some vases from the 4th century BC), and the discovery is interesting above all for the chronology of Iberian pottery.

Oppidum di Entremont near Aix in Provence: the excavations of the indigenous capital of the Salî, destroyed in 122 by the Romans, who founded Aquae Sextiae nearby, revealed in 1943 a Gallic wall decorated with towers, some houses grouped in insulae and stone sculptures. The latter constitute the first known complex of Gallic sculpture; they depict a crouching warrior, fragments of an equestrian statue, numerous statue heads and “severed heads” with closed eyes, some with a hand on their hair; the faces are narrow and elongated, with prominent cheekbones. These sculptures suggest the presence of a cult or funerary building. The style is a mixture of different influences: Greek, Iberian, perhaps Etruscan, however more Mediterranean than strictly Celtic.

Oppidum di Alesia: the exploration of the Alise SainteReine plateau continues; some paved streets, underground dwellings, Gallic coins have been found.

Oppidum di Gergovia: here too excavations continue and three successive walls have been found, the first of which dates back to the Gallic era; some houses and coins are the only traces of the pre-Roman city.

Barbarian period. – According to Computerannals, the excavations of the necropolis and the laboratory researches have allowed a great progress in this field thanks to the analysis of the metal objects, which, subjected to an adequate restoration, almost completely regain their primitive appearance. The main researches took place in the east of France where the barbarian necropolises are very numerous and especially in Varangéville, where the weapons and funerary furnishings reveal pronounced oriental influences. In the south of France, a Visigothic necropolis has been excavated in Estagel.

These researches make it possible to clarify the extent of the barbarian population, of pagan customs in the Christianized Gallo-Roman country and open a new horizon to archeology and history.

France Archaeology - Pre-Roman Period