or Massilia (Marseille) Bouches-du-Rhône, France.
Situated on the coast, E of the
Rhône delta, Massalia was founded in 600 B.C. by Greek
colonists from Phokaia, in Asia Minor. The marriage
between Phokis, leader of the Greeks, and Gyptis, the
daughter of the Ligurian king Nannus, sealed the agreement that made the settlement possible.
A favored base for the trade in rare metals, the city
rapidly grew prosperous, and set up outposts in Spain
(Ampurias, Hemeroskopion, Mainake), Languedoc
(Agde), on the Ligurian coast (Monaco, Antibes), and
in Corsica (Aléria). Becoming perhaps less prosperous
in the 5th c. owing to the expansion of Carthage, it
flourished once again after Pytheas' exploration of the
British Isles and the Baltic (end of the 4th c.). In
the Hellenistic period Massalia supported Rome against
the Barcides and increased its territorial domain with the
help of the Roman generals. It fortified Saint-Blaise and
created a trading post at Olbia. Independent until the
1st c. A.D., Massalia was governed by a body of 600
councillors, and strict laws in the Ionian tradition. The
city also kept its original religion with the cults of
Artemis of the Ephesians, Apollo Delphinios, Kybele,
and Leukothea, and ancient festivals such as the Anthesteria and Thargelia. Silver and bronze coins were struck
with the effigies of Artemis and Apollo. In 49 B.C., after
siding with Pompey, Massalia was besieged and forced
to open its gates to Caesar and his lieutenant, Trebonius;
yet under Roman rule it remained relatively independent.
Christianized fairly early, the city preserved its Greek
language until the 5th c. A.D., and remained an active
cultural and commercial center.
The ancient city was N of the Lacydon (the Old
Port); it straddled the rocky spur that now borders on
the Eglise St. Laurent and the Hôtel-Dieu. Strabo
) writes that the temples of Artemis and Apollo
stood on this ridge. Several traces of archaic occupation
have been located: at the Eglise de la Major; at the Fort
St. Jean, where many sherds of Attic, Corinthian, Aiolian, and East Greek wares have been found under the
18th c. embankments. The earliest of these date from
the period when the city was founded. After WW II an
ancient theater in the Greek style, a few tiers of which
are still standing, was found S of the Old Port, and a
dock area of the Roman period with dolia still lodged
in the ground (Musée des Docks Romains). A Sanctuary
of Kybele has been located: some 40 stelai—archaic
naiskoi with the effigy of the seated goddess—were found
in the old Rue Négrel.
A fortified rampart encircled the city, passing around
the Butte des Carmes to the E, from behind the Old
Port to the S to the bay of La Joliette to the NW. Excavations near the Bourse confirmed this line, at least for
the period from the 3d c. B.C. on, and Caesar (BCiv
and Lucan (Pharsalia
) describe such a rampart.
The necropoleis lay outside the city walls, S of the
Old Port (excavations at the careening basin and lighthouse), E of the city (Rue du Tapis Vert), and along
the ancient road leading N to Aix.
The principal remains now visible are on the Bourse
site. To the E and S the tongue of land on which the
ancient port stood has been excavated, together with a
sturdy quay made of squared stones that still show the
line of the ancient water level. This construction apparently dates from the 1st c. B.C. Near the quay to the S
are the foundations of a warehouse from the 2d c. A.D.,
a huge shed with interior pillars. The bases of dolia that
were stored there have been found in situ. Near the tip
of this tongue of land was found a large square basin
made of ashlar dating from the 1st c. A.D. It collected
water for the ships; this came from a nearby spring,
perhaps the spring which gave the Lacydon its name.
The Rome road ended N of the basin; one of its milestones has been found.
This road entered the city on the axis of the present-day Grande Rue, through a gate flanked by two square
towers. Only the foundations of one tower remain, but
the other still retains part of its facade. Between the towers were, first, the axial gate, then, toward the city, two
identical gates. The line follows that of a road paved with
hard Cassis stone in the Roman period, which bears the
marks of chariot wheels.
Both the gate and the towers probably date from the
2d c. A.D. The fortification adjoining at this point was
built in the same period and of the same pink stone from
Cap Couronne. To the S, near the present-day Palais de
la Bourse, can be seen some curtain walls (now worn
down, although their plan is still discernible) and the S
tower (the best preserved of the towers) where one can
still see the loop-holes from which catapults were fired.
To the N near what is now the Butte des Carmes are
some curtain walls with several embrasures and a well-preserved bastion. Its facing was erroneously called
Crinas' wall. At the base of this wall can be seen the
trademarks of the Greek contractors who delivered the
In front of this fortification, in the S section, is the
broken line of a forewall partly built of reused blocks;
most of it was erected in the Late Empire. Behind the
fortification, on the other hand, can be seen the remains
of some white limestone foundations belonging to an
earlier Hellenistic structure; they are now buried in the
Some remains have been found S of the city, at the
Abbaye de Saint Victor. The mediaeval buildings were
superimposed on a quarry of the Hellenistic period,
and on an ancient monument, a necropolis, and
some Early Christian churches. These last remains can
be seen in the crypt of the modern church, along with
some carved sarcophagi from the 4th and 5th c. A.D.
which were found in situ.
Most of the archeological finds made before 1967 are
housed in the Musée Borély in Marseille.
Grosson, Receuil des antiquités et monuments marseillais qui peuvent intéresser l'histoire et les
(1773); W. Froehner, Catalogue des antiquités
grecques et romaines du Musée de Marseille
Jullian, Histoire de la Gaule I-III (1908); G. Vasseur,
“L'origine de Marseille,” Annales du Musée d'Histoire
naturelle de Marseille dans l'Antiquité
13 (1914); M.
Clerc, Massalia, Histoire de Marseille dans l'Antiquité
(1927); II (1929); F. Benoît, Carte archéologique de la
V (1936); F. Villard, La céramique
grecque de Marseille
(1960); for excavations since WW
II see “Informations,” Gallia
5 (1947), following vols.,
and index with vol. 20; Bourse excavations: M. Euzennat
& F. Salviat, Les découvertes archéologiques de la Bourse
27 (1969) 423-30PI