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LARDIERS 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; 22 (1964) 545-50I; F. Salviat, ibid. 25 (1967) 387-93PI.


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