Alpes de Haute-Provence, France.
The oppidum-sanctuary of the Chastellard, at an
altitude of 1000 m in the S foothills of Mt. Lure. It was
far from any important road, but on the dividing line
between the two Gallic tribes of the Vocontii and the
Albici. It was heavily occupied from the end of Iron
Age I to the Late Empire.
In a first phase, from the 6th c. B.C. to the first years
of the Christian era, an indigenous Celto-Ligurian village occupied the summit of the hill, which offers a
view to the S of all inland Provence. It is surrounded by
two, and in places three, strong walls in dry masonry.
Each of these walls is 4 m thick and consists of a double
facing of large rough-hewn limestone blocks, with rubble
fill. The area encompassed by the walls is some 8 ha.
Systematic searches since 1961 have revealed only pre-Roman habitations, thoroughly leveled in the 1st c. A.D.
when they were replaced by new construction. But abundant and varied remains of Iron Age I and II habitations
have been discovered in all the sectors explored.
In the early years of the Christian era the inhabitants
of this high, fortified village profited from the Pax Romana, which was late in coming to these mountainous
regions of the Provincia Narbonensis. They abandoned
the village in favor of the great rural estates in the two
valleys which enclose the oppidum to W and E. Many
of these estates have been identified and some partially
explored. At the same time, the beginning or middle of
the 1st c. A.D., a large sanctuary was built on the leveled
dwellings of the pre-Roman settlement inside the old
walls, which thus became a sacred enclosure. The sanctuary was built on an old native cult site, the ritual center of which has not yet been certainly identified.
Exploration of this sanctuary, apparently unique in
Narbonese Gaul, has yielded segments of a long sacred
way, lined with cult niches, which led up the hill to an
E-facing temple: a square cella (6.05 m) stood alone in
a courtyard which was surrounded by a covered gallery
24.8 m overall on a side. Near this cult site was a portico
(32 x 4.7 m), and some small oratories and adjoining
rooms. Excavation of this ensemble has brought to light
architectural fragments, inscriptions, and thousands of
artifacts, mostly votive: coins, gold and bronze jewelry
(rings, brooches, fibulas), rings and pierced plates of
bronze (ca. 15,000), metal mirrors, some small bronze
reliefs, some fragments of metal vases, glass and ceramic
goblets, and especially terracotta lamps. A midden outside the walls has yielded several tens of thousands, both
imported and of local manufacture. These multitudinous
offerings, from the 1st c. A.D. to the end of the 4th, testify
to the great crowds at this pilgrimage center, which was
consecrated to one or several gods not yet identified.
The artifacts found at the site are on display at the
Musée Archéologique d'Apt (Apta Julia), Vaucluse.
H. de Gérin-Ricard, “Un pélerinage
gaulois alpin,” Bulletin Archéologique du Comité
(1913) 193-205; Grenier, Manuel
IV, 2 (1960) 527-28; H. Rolland, “Informations,” Gallia
20 (1962) 655-56I
; F. Salviat, ibid. 25 (1967) 387-93PI