(Bern) Bern, Switzerland.
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
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,”
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
V. VON GONZENBACH