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Alesia oppidum, and a article on a Holiday in France

Alesia oppidum

Alesia Hillfort 19th Century imagining.j

Alésia archaeological site
archaeological site in Alise-Sainte-Reine ( Côte-d'Or )


Altitude     402 metres

History Iron Age then Antiquity ( Roman Empire )

Above is a 19th Century imagining of Alesia, and it's battle with the Romans and their Empire. 

Located in Alise-Sainte-Reine, in the department of Côte-d'Or, in Burgundy, on a hill between Montbard & Dijon, the archaeological site of Alésia is the archaeological site of the Gallic oppidum of Alésia, siege of Alésia in -52 or 52 BC & of the Gallo-Roman city of Alésia. The various monuments on the site are partly registered & partly classified as historical monuments between 1908 & 1992. It has been integrated since 2016 at the MuséoParc Alésia, heritage interpretation centre dedicated to the history of the site from the siege of Caesar until the end of Antiquity, made up of several visitable sites (the MuséoParc itself, as well as the remains of the Gallo-Roman town) linked by various walking paths, for a total of 7,000 hectares.
Occupation history

As part of his account of the legend of the Trojan origin of the Gauls, the Greek author of the end of the republican era, Diodorus of Sicily makes Herakles the mythical founder of the city of Alesia: this would have married the daughter of the Celtic king & would have helped civilize Gaul. According to legend, it was his son King Galathès who gave his name to the peoples over whom he reigned. This episode of Herakles' gesture fits into the larger perspective of the hero's pacifying & civilizing function, exploring the confines of the world & allowing, by eradicating the savagery that is often found there in the form of a monster, to make possible the establishment of peoples in sedentary cities.

On the archaeological level, the territory of the oppidum of Alésia & its surroundings are relatively well documented: we know that the site was frequented in the Neolithic, in particular on Mount Auxois & in its eastern extension, Mount Pennevelle; in the Bronze Age (between 2300 & 800 BC) the Haut-Auxois territory was a dynamic sector with several centers of population 

Gallic Alesia

The site of Alésia, during the last centuries of protohistory, is not limited to the Gallic oppidum of the Mandubians, place of the famous siege of Alesia of 52 BC. AD The tray is actually occupied probably from the 5th century BC. AD, due among other things to its strategic position at the outlet of a traffic axis joining Massalia & used by Gallic traders working with the Phocaeans. The modalities of the urbanization of the Celtic Alésia are not well known, however, due to the presence of well-preserved Roman archaeological levels on the site. Still, it is gradually changing into a small urban community, with a wall of the murus gallicus type. According to Diodorus Siculus the city is the "religious center & the metropolis of all Celtic ", the Greek historian evoking the myth according to which it would have been founded by Heracles during his passage in Gaul. However, such a religious centrality probably remains reconstructed a the Greek historian. In the current state of archaeological data, it is difficult to identify by excavation a network of Celtic sanctuaries of scale, perhaps because of its partial obliteration by later Roman buildings. Making Alesia an important center of the Celtic world would proceed in Diodorus of Sicily from a form of teleological narration, aiming to make of the siege a religious crowning of Caesar's campaigns, the culmination of his war, by suddenly capturing the leader of the allies & the religious metropolis of the vanquished. Traces of a community banquet space enclosed by a vast ditch filled with numerous remains of slaughtered, cooked, & eaten animals, as well as thousands of fragments of Italic wine amphorae,were discovered under the Roman levels of the sanctuary of Apollo Moritasgus, located on the eastern slopes of the plateau at the place called Croix Saint-Charles. This pre-Roman meeting place dates from the years 100 - 80 BC. AD; the Roman sanctuary - a sanctuary giving pride of place to the cult of spring waters which gush at this place due to the change of geological layer - located at the same location, was excavated by Émile Espérandieu at the beginning of thethe Roman sanctuary - a sanctuary giving pride of place to the cult of spring waters which gush at this place due to the change of geological layer - located at the same location, was excavated by Émile Espérandieu at the beginning of thethe Roman sanctuary - a sanctuary giving pride of place to the cult of spring waters which gush at this place due to the change of geological layer - located at the same location, was excavated by Émile Espérandieu at the beginning of the 20 th century & by Olivier de Cazanove during the years 2008-2018. This temple & the associated buildings testify, if not to a knowledge by the Roman community of Alesia of a previous place of worship, of a religious topography opportunely linked to the sources which are there.
Alésia headquarters
Main articles: Headquarters of Alésia & Historiography of the debate on the location of Alésia.

The siege of Alesia, the decisive battle of the Gallic Wars, saw more than 10 Roman legions, about 60,000 soldiers, from the Roman army of Julius Caesar clash with nearly 80,000 Gauls, besieged in the oppidum with Vercingetorix, as well as more than 200,000 warriors of the Gallic peoplescame to help them. Following various cavalry skirmishes & a pursuit of several weeks, Vercingetorix is ​​forced to lock himself in the oppidum of the Mandubians with his men. Quickly, Caesar installs a vast device of encirclement & investment, refusing to lead a murderous assault, & preferring to starve the defenders forced to evacuate the civilians & the cavalry.

Despite a numerical inferiority, the victory of Caesar, whose troops are better organized, marks the end of the resistance of the independent Celtic peoples under the aegis of Vercingetorix, & definitively sanctions the success of the Roman conquest of the region, which will not be organized & divided into provinces only under Augustus, opening the era that is traditionally called Gallo-Roman. A large number of remains of this siege have been discovered in Alise-Sainte-Reine & its surroundings. These remains, made up of several tens of kilometers of linear ditched structures, fortified sod-clod embankments topped with palisades, towers, pits & traps intended to break the charges of cavalry & infantry, camps, hundreds of Roman arms, Celtic, Germanic, Roman coins, or Celtic coins from all of Gaul or hit by Vercingetorix, formed from the XIX th centurya set of convincing clues to identify Alise as the site of the famous siege. In fact, we find all the constituent elements of the investment system established by Caesar during the two months of the battle ( circumvallation, countervallation, legionary encampments ) & related in the Gallic Wars, the multi-ethnic composition of the armies present., the presence of generals attested by epigraphy ( Titus Labienus, Vercingétorix).

The end of the conflict with Rome does not mean the end of the occupation for the oppidum of Alesia. Even if the Mandubians were never granted the right to form a city within the province of Gaule Lyonnaise, constituting an administrative fraction (a pagus ) of the territory of the neighboring cities, the site remains inhabited & is gradually urbanizing according to modalities. Roman architectural & town planning: there is a theater, a forum, a civil basilica, as well as a certain number of monumentalized sanctuaries, such as the sanctuary of Apollo Moritasgus located on the eastern slopes of the plateau, at the place called Croix Saint-Charles. The Roman city was mainly unearthed during excavations of the early twentieth century, led notably by Émile Espérandieu.

Alésia is a prosperous city thanks in particular to the renowned activity of bronze craftsmen & blacksmiths united in corporation under the protection of the divinity Ucuetis, whose seat has been found; it is estimated to be home to a population of 4000 at its peak.
Decline of the Roman city & Christianization

The city seems busy & active at least until the second third of the 3rd century, a period during which Alesia - like many other cities of Roman Gaul - seems to suffer from a partial & gradual withdrawal of its urban fabric, which is traditionally explained by the multiplication of incursions linked to Germanic migrations ( Franks & Alamans ) in 269 then in 276. The city, in its forms & places of Roman occupation, was abandoned in 5 th century, at which time it still bears the name of pagus alisienses in the sources.

A Christian worship to the local saint, holy Queen, seems to develop early on the site, as some archaeological findings make it possible to go back in the 4 th century. Towards the 5 th  -  6 th centuries a Christian basilica was built in the center of what is little more than a hamlet. The site permanently loses all importance to the 19 th century, following the transfer of the relics of Holy Queen at the monastery of Flavigny few kilometers away.
Rediscovered in contemporary times
A promising site: ancient clues & imperial excavations

In the 19th century under Emperor Napoleon III, a broad discussion takes place to locate the site of Alesia is at Alise-Sainte-Reine in Côte d'Or, or Alaise in Franche-Comté. The community of scholars then turned on the need to conduct research in Alise, because of the mention of the seat in the region from the 9th century AD by Heri monk of St. Germanus of Auxerre, but also because of the discovery Alise in the early 19th century, an entry called stone Martialis including at the end of the text indicate the place: in Alisiia. The emperor agrees with this opinion & mandates various officers & topographers to carry out excavations at Alise-Sainte-Reine. The discoveries are immediate: thanks to several hundred trenches, the excavators succeed in intercepting the remains of the lines of Caesar, bringing to light weapons, coins, structures, pointing to the presence on the site of a vast military operation dating from the 1950s. Before our era. Much of the material from these excavations is now kept at the National Archaeological Museum of Saint-Germain en Laye. The news caused a stir & the site was also visited by the emperor. The statue of Vercingetorix by sculptor Aimé Millet was finally erected in 1865 at the top of the oppidum.
Controversies & confirmations

These discoveries, although they first fueled a scientific debate in France, giving rise to hundreds of contradictory hypotheses as to the location of the headquarters, were widely recognized throughout the world as difficult to dispute. During the 20th century, many campaigns aerial photographs are conducted around the oppidum (in a predominantly cultivated territory & therefore suitable for detection of archaeological structures from the air) by René Goguey, which documents several hundred shots the vast ditches, camps, & diverticula established by the Roman army. Despite dissenting opinions & theories, notably those of André BerthierExcavations were renewed in the 1990s to verify the findings of the excavators of the 19th century. They were directed by Michel Reddé & Siegmar Von Schnurbein, & made it possible to bring to light the structures of the fortifications established by Caesar, to document more precisely the old trenches - which in fact turned out to be very meticulous - & to specify the stratigraphy of some remains. On this occasion, new weapons & coins were brought to light.

Recent research & site development

Since 2008, the site has been the subject of excavations concentrated on the Roman remains of the city, in particular at the place called Croix Saint-Charles, or a vast suburban sanctuary - located on a probable Celtic community site -, dedicated to Apollo. Moritasgus, surrounded by a monumental peribola, bordered by the road coming from Dijon, is brought to light. It is notably composed of an octagonal fanum, a long portico with projections, a large thermal building, as well as a dense water supply network intended to supply not only the numerous pools & fountains of the sanctuary, but also to supply the thermal bathsbelow. This sanctuary had already been excavated surface at the beginning of 20th century by Émile Espérandieu. The investigation was resumed under the scientific direction of Olivier de Cazanove, professor at the University of Paris 1 Panthéon Sorbonne & under the supervision of the University of Bourgogne - Franche-Comté.

In 2016, the archeological site of Alesia is incorporated in the "archaeological museum of Gallo-Roman town of Alesia" of 5000 m 2 of MuséoParc Alesia of 7000 hectares in Alise-Sainte-Reine (inaugurated in 2012 ).

The ancient archaeological site of Alésia is composed among others of:

 two fortified accesses at the eastern & western ends of the oppidum ;
neighborhoods crafts, traders & houses of perishable materials ( wood, mud...) of which there are still foundations & cellars in stone ;
of streets partially paved that connect the various islands;
the sanctuary of Cybele ( great Goddess, mother goddess or mother of the gods ) sacked around 370 ;
a Roman theater to the west with 5,000 seats;
a Roman forum closed by a religious basilica ;
the monument of Ucuetis ( Celtic god of metallurgy ) with a courtyard bordered by porticoes & an underground room carved into the rock (former seat & place of worship of the corporation of bronziers & blacksmiths );
a rectangular building open in the center of the agglomeration with sculpted decoration of massacred Negroid heads & Gallic warriors ;
an octagonal fanum dedicated to Apollo Moritasgus, built within a vast sanctuary where people come to thank the god for the healing granted;
a temple with four columns surrounded by a wall of 2nd century, probably dedicated to Taranis ( Celtic god of the sky & the storm ) or Jupiter (father of gods & the Roman god of the earth, the sky & living beings );
a Roman thermal bath made up of various rooms ( palaestra, aedicule to the goddess, caldarium, tepidarium, etc.);
traces of worship Christian of Holy Queen to V th & VI th centuries date Alesia is in ruins.

Holiday in France

Do you like the idea of visiting the glorious Celtic sites of Iron Age France, of seeing the great oppida, like Alesia, and such. Well some of the sites of that era have seen attempts at identification, but here is my website on talking of holiday in France, like Brittany that special Celtic corner of North Western France, not that the whole of the republic, does not have a Celtic identity with many other aspects of it's own.

Indeed the famous French exports of French wine was seeing it's development in the Celtic Iron Age. Brittany holidays are common for people interested in pre history as of all those Neolithic monuments, but it also has some amazing cliff forts. i HAVE BEEN TO Brittany and Normany and have relatives who have been to Paris.

Holiday Rentals France

Why not take a vacation in the great nation of France It can be a super place for a vacations. You can have some vacations in the nation. Enjoy the southern beaches the histroic cities or cultural centres, the rural great scenic areas, the ski and winter resorts.

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