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ILLIBERIS (Elne) Pyrénés-Orientales, France.

Iberian oppidum built on an isolated butte in the plain of Roussillon, near the coastal river Iliberis (Strab. 4.1.6), now the Tech, at the foot of the Albère Massif. The importance and prosperity of the town is said to have declined under the early Empire (Plin. 3.32), but under Constantine it regained its role as a fortified place guarding the principal routes across the E Pyrenees. At this time it took the name of Castrum Helenae (Elne) in honor of the mother of Constantine. It was the see of a diocese from the 6th c. on.

The ancient settlement is directly under the mediaeval and modern town, and there is evidence of continuous human occupation since the 6th c. B.C. Recent emergency excavation has uncovered modest structures and pre-Roman storage pits in the upper town, and in the lower town a necropolis of the Early Christian era. The archaeological artifacts are preserved nearby in a museum in the cathedral buildings.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

E. Espérandieu, Répertoire archéologique des Pyrénées-Orientales (1936) 28-29; “Informations,” Gallia 20 (1962) 611; 22 (1964) 473; 29 (1971) 369.

G. BARRUOL

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