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MONT-LASSOIS (Vix) Côte-d'Or, France.

Hill dominating the village of Vix and the Seine. Mont-Lassois, also called Mont-Saint-Marcel and Mont-Roussillon, consists of two plateaus. The higher of the two, at a height of 100 m above the valley, has remains of prehistoric occupations. On the lower plateau a necropolis of the 7th c. A.D. is the only archaeological vestige. The importance of the site was revealed in 1929 by excavations which, after being interrupted in 1939, were resumed in 1947, and continue today. Mont-Lassois was inhabited from Neolithic to Merovingian times, but it was the site of an intensive occupation at the end of the first Iron Age, during the 6th and 5th c. B.C. At that time the site was strongly fortified. A ditch with triangular section, 5 m deep and 19 m wide at the top, surrounded the mountain over a length of 2.7 km. Behind this ditch stood a strong vallum, still more than 3 m in high in places. This vallum is characterized by the presence of an internal facing consisting of an ashlar wall. Several large banks of earth led to the river and to spring, thereby protecting access to sources of water. The dwellings on the summit are poorly known because they are too disturbed, but remains of buildings have been excavated on the sides of the hill. The cabins were built on small terraces with their backs against the rock wall. They were made of plastered wattling and their floors were carefully smoothed; stone was not used. After being abandoned during the 4th, 3d, and 2d c. B.C., the site was reoccupied during La Tène III and a rampart of murus gallicus type enclosed the summit of the upper plateau. Gallo-Roman dwellings on this plateau and a Merovingian cemetery on the other attest to the permanency of human occupation.

Mont-Lassois' interest lies in the abundance and significance of the archaeological material which has been collected there. Almost all fibula types of the end of the first Iron Age are represented there. More than 2 million potsherds dating to about 500 B.C. have been recovered, including 40,000 with geometric barbotine decoration. The remains of more than 50 black-figure Greek vases attest to the existence of a vast commercial flow between the Celtic and Mediterranean worlds.

In 1953 an exceptionally rich princely tomb was found at the foot of Mont-Lassois. Originally it was a large barrow with a diameter of 40 m. In the middle, in a funerary chamber cut into the ground and lined with planks, lay the dismounted remains of a wagon in whose chassis the body of a young woman had been placed. The grave goods consisted of an enormous bronze crater 1.65 m high, weighing 208 kg, two Attic bowls, a silver vial with a gold navel, three bronze basins, and a bronze wine jug of Etruscan manufacture. The jewelry included bronze and iron fibulas adorned with gold, amber, and coral; a bronze torque, amber beads, a schist bracelet, and bronze ankle bracelets. A gold diadem weighing 480 gr, of Graeco-Scythian workmanship, still rested on the head of the deceased. This tomb has been dated to 500 B.C. It should be compared to the two barrows of Sainte-Colombe, located 1 km away, which also contained wagon burials attributable to the princes of Vix.

The location of the necropoleis corresponding to the settlement still is not known. However, in the vicinity of the tomb of the princess at Vix, recent excavations have revealed numerous circular enclosures, funerary structures contemporary to that tomb.

Mont-Lassois' importance can be explained by its geographical position. It is located next to the Seine, just where it ceases to be navigable. Thus, it effectively controlled passage through the valley and commercial traffic, including the tin trade.

All the archaeological material collected on the site is deposited in the Musée Municipal at Châtillon-sur-Seine.


R. Joffroy, La tombe de Vix, Monuments et Mém. (fondation Piot) (1954); L'Oppidum de Vix et la civilisation hallstattienne finale dans l'Est de la France (1960); Les Influences méditerranéennes dans l'oppidum de Vix et dans l'Est de la France à la fin du 1er âge du Fer, Institut de Préhist. et d'Arch. des Alpes Maritimes (1960).


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