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ENGE (Bern) Bern, Switzerland.

Vicus ca. 3 km from the center of Bern, in a loop of the Aare river. The ancient name is unknown. It succeeded two oppida of the Helvetii in a naturally fortified position on a three-lobed spit with steep banks. The older oppidum flourished 150-58 B.C.; the later one, built by the Helvetii after their defeat by Caesar at Bibracte in 58 B.C., developed into the Roman vicus. A 1st c. military post also attests the importance of this site, on the shortest road to Italy over the Lötschberg and Simplon passes. A destruction level may reflect the events of A.D. 69 (Tac. 1.67). The settlement flourished until menaced by the Alamanni ca. A.D. 260, when it was abandoned.

Oppidum I enclosed the entire peninsula within its ramparts (150,000 sq. m); the defenses are still visible. The settlement was in the S part. Oppidum II (ca. 80,000 sq. m) occupied the N spit only, and access to it was protected by a new rampart across the neck. The fortifications were not kept up after 52 B.C. The vicus spread along the main road on the plateau (1.5 km long) and has been partly explored. The houses, on both sides of the road and to the W, had no uniform plan except for a portico facing the street, and were usually very simple. Workshops were numerous, including bronze foundries and a sizable potters' quarter. A small bath has also been found. At the S end of the settlement were three small temples of Gaulish type (the largest 19 x 18 m), possibly part of a larger precinct. Still farther S (behind the new Matthäuskirche), and built against the late ramparts, stood a very small amphitheater (27.5 x 25.3 m). The seats were earth terraces with a low stone retaining wall next to the arena.

There is a small exhibit at the Kirchgemeindehaus; all other finds are in the Bernisches Historisches Museum in Bern.


H. Müller-Beck & E. Ettlinger, “Die Engehalbinsel bei Bern und ihre wichtigsten vor- und frühgeschichtlichen Denkmäler,” Jb. des Historischen Museums in Bern 39-40 (1959-60) 367-82MPI; id., “Die Besiedlung der Engehalbinsel bei Bern auf Grund des Kenntnisstandes vom Februar des Jahres 1962,” RGKomm 43-44 (1962-63) 107-53MPI; id., “Ein helvetisches Brandgrab von der Engehalbinsel,” Jb. Schweiz. Gesell. f. Urgeschichte 50 (1963) 43-54PI; V. von Gonzenbach, BonnJbb 163 (1963) 111-12; summaries: Jb. Schweiz. Gesell. f. Urgeschichte 46 (1957) 121-23; 54 (1968-69) 192.


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