or LATERA (Lattes) Canton of Montpelher, Hérault, France.
Lagoon port on the lower
coast of Languedoc, halfway between the mouths of the
Rhône and the Hérault, and on a small coastal river, the
Lez, behind the Étang de Lattes (Plin. HN
9.29). It was
in the territory of the Volcae Arecomici, and was later
made part of the civitas of Nîmes. Oriented towards the
sea, it was engaged in commerce from pre-Roman times
with the greatest ports of the Mediterranean, especially
Marseille, for which it was a way station or even a trading post. But it was also a river port, at the mouth of a
splendid access route, and played an important commercial role in relation to the oppida of the interior, particularly Sextantio (Castelnau-le-Lez) on the Via Domitiana.
The site of Lattes, a meeting-place for maritime, river,
and road traffic, is one of the most important on the
Gulf of Lion.
The name of the settlement is known from literary
sources (Pliny, Pomponius Mela, Anonymous of Ravenna) and inscriptions (recent discoveries). It covered
almost 10 ha in the locality known as Saint-Sauveur,
near the modern village of Lattes. The site consists of
a mound some five m high, permeated with water owing
to its proximity to sea-level.
Excavations, which are only beginning, have disclosed
nine layers of habitation from the 7th c. B.C. (with traces
of an earlier occupation) to the Roman period. The
pre-Roman settlements consisted primarily of huts with
cobwork or stone walls, hearths, and floors of broken
amphorae, and port installations (landing stages on
piles). The artifacts, which are both imported and of
local manufacture, are abundant and of very high quality (Late Bronze Age, Etruscan, Phokaian, Ionian, Attic,
Ibero-Punic, local ceramics). Three large hoards of coins
of the 2d and 1st c. B.C. (coins from Massalia and of
the Volcae) have also been found.
The Gallo-Roman town, which was of greater extent
and included wide streets, shows a more developed but
as yet little known level of urban life: larger houses,
mosaic floors, etc. To the NE of the ancient town are
the remains of a small sacellum to Mercury (statues,
inscriptions, architectural fragments), and a large and
well-furnished incineration cemetery of the Early Empire; 160 tombs, containing an abundance of artifacts
(ceramics, glassware, bronze objects) and 34 epitaphs
have been excavated.
The artifacts are currently at the Dépôt archéologique in Montpellier.
Carte archéologique de la Gaule romaine
, fasc. x, Hérault (1946) 8, no. 23; E. Demougeot,
“L'inscription de Lattes,” REA
68 (1966) 86-100; J.
Arnal et al., “Lattes,” Archéologia
31 (1969) 68-72I
22 (1964) 491; 24 (1966) 467I
27 (1969) 393-95I
; 29 (1971) 381-83I
; 31 (1973) 491-92I
; E. Demougeot, “Steles funeraire d'une necropole de
5 (1972) 49-116; J. Arnal et al., Le port