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BESSAN (“Polygium”) Hérault, France.

The site, called La Monédière, is 5 km N of Agde, on the right bank of the Hérault and at the head of the delta that the river formed in antiquity. Favored by this excellent geographical position, the site, which some historians identify as the city of Polygium mentioned by Avienus, became an important emporium in the 6th c. B.C., and a port of call for Etruscan and Greek navigators. It is also possible that Greek colonists settled Bessan before Agde was even founded. In any case, the rise of that Massaliot trading post in the 4th c. B.C. put an end to the prosperity of Bessan: the settlement was partly abandoned at that time, but had a certain revival of activity in the 1st c. A.D.

Nothing is known of the plan of the city, which covered 4 ha. Excavations have revealed some huts built either of cobwork (6th c. B.C.) or basaltic stones (4th c. B.C.). The last occupation stratum (1st-4th c. A.D.) contained a cistern, in the S section. The importance and wealth of the original city, however, can be seen from the many Etruscan, Punic, and Greek imports: Attic ware, in particular, is varied as well as of high quality, and much of it bears graffiti in Greek characters. The finds are housed in Agde and in the Institut d'Archéologie in Montpellier.


J. Coulouma, “La station grecque de La Monédière prè de Bessan,” CahHistArch 9 (1936) 690-712; J.-J. Jully, “La céramique attique de La Monédière, Bessan.” Latomus 124 (1973).


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