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BIBRACTE Mont Beuvray, Saône-et-Loire, France.

Situated in the Morvan region near the SE edge of the massif, 27 km from Autun. The importance of Bibracte—“by far the largest and the best provided of the Aeduan oppida” (Caes. BGall 1.23)—in Gaul in the last years of independence is stressed by the “council of all Gaul” held there in A.D. 52, which appointed Vercingetorix commander-in-chief of the Gaulish armies (BGall 7.63). Excavations carried out over a period of 30 years, to 1898, have left no doubt as to the site: the oppidum covered the more or less flat summit of Mont Beuvray, which dominates the surrounding hills and provides easy access to the Yonne, the Saône, and even the Loire. Further, despite the rampart (of the murus gallicus type) which runs nearly 5 km around the mountain, Bibracte's primary importance most probably was as a center of crafts and trade.

Excavation around a large temple, which may have been dedicated to a goddess after whom the city was named (two dedications have been found at Autun), has revealed rectangular dwellings of the Gaulish type, half buried underground and enclosed in walls of dry stone, as well as some houses with hypocausts, of the Mediterranean type. The main road, also uncovered, is lined with shops. Workshops for metalworking take up several sections; in a number of them the owner's ashes were buried beneath his forge. Objects found here are evidence of links with Marseille (coins, amphorae) and Italy (so-called “Campanian” ware with a black glaze, Arretine bowls, including some goblets signed ACCO).

The city, whose finds have served as a basis for characterizing the period as “La Tène III,” was occupied at least to the founding of Augustodunum (Autun), which later took its place (5 B.C.). Thereafter the temple continued to be used, probably especially during annual fairs. In fact, only new excavations would make it possible to determine precisely which buildings and objects actually date to the period before the Roman Conquest.


Bulliot, Fouilles du Beuvray . . . de 1867 à 1895 (1895); Déchelette, L'oppidum de Bibracte (1903) Résumé in id., Manuel 2.3, pp. 948-57); Vuillemot, “Révision du matériel archéologique de Bibracte: céramique campanienne,” Mémoires de la Société Eduenne 51 (1968) 213 ff.


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    • Caesar, Gallic War, 1.23
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