Glanum to Beaucaire

Posted on Jun 26, 2010 in category

Glanum is a picturesque site located on the outskirts of St Remy de Provence. The parking attendant nearly collapsed when we paid our parking fee in small change. Outside the archaeological site there were two Gallo-Roman monuments called 'Les Antiques' next to the carpark: an enormous mausoleum and a triumphal archway.

The mausoleum was built in 30-20 BC by three brothers of the Julii family in commemoration of their father who was a loyal Gallic soldier for Julius Caesar. Many of his retired Gallic soldiers were allowed to adopt his name because of their loyal services to his legions in the Gallic Wars. They went on to become the new elite of Gallo-Roman towns. The mausoleum's bas-relief decorations depict many successful battles in the Gallic Wars and the defeat of the 'barbarian Gauls'.

Bas relief of Vanquished Gauls

Next to the mausoleum is the triumphal arch that was erected towards the end of Augustus' principate circa AD 14. The Arch is a very bold statement revealing loyalty towards Augustus and Rome by emphasising the defeat of 'barbarian Gaul' and the new dominance of the Gallo-Roman regime.

Two outstanding monuments of the new Gallo-Roman regime

Two defeated Gauls in chains

Glanum was initially an oppidum of the Celtic Salluvii tribe dating from 7th-6th centuries BC. The settlement controlled both the road to the Alpilles and the sacred spring of Glan, a spring water god and the Glanic Mothers all of whom were thought to have special healing properties.

By the 2nd and 1st centuries BC Glanum was influenced greatly by the Greeks from Marseilles with the result that the town became more Hellenistic in design and Glanum's public buildings were improved. Improvements to the forum were made in Augustan times including gaining colony status. Further improvements occurred in the late 1st-early 2nd centuries AD. By AD 260 Glanum was abandoned.

A well worn path leads down to the sacred well of Glan with stone stelae (on the bottom right of pic) in honour of Hercules

There are healthy goldfish in the cistern too!

There are many other interesting features of Glanum including houses of the elite, houses of the poor (former Salluvian tribe), thermal baths built as early as 75 BC, a Roman 'Curia' or Senate House, a 'bouleuterion' or Assembly House for citizens, a fountain, an aqueduct that runs below the main street, a huge public well and a 'marcellum' or market place.

Inside the market place with its dual shrine precincts, one is dedicated to Bona Dea, an oracular deity-'a good listener to one's problems'.

The 'dromos' well that is protected by a decent sized construction

The 'dromos well' reflecting the hole in the protective platform roof above it

The early section of Glanum (Celtic oppidum) with the sacred spring

Glanum's forum has been recently excavated. A small exhibition in the museum displayed a few fresco fragments, glass objects and everyday life objects such as tweezers. It is now agreed that there were four phases of the forum's development.

It was a pretty hot day at Glanum so we cranked up the A/C in the C5 and headed towards our apartment at Tarascon/Beaucaire on the Rhone River close to both Arles sand Nimes. These two cities are like Albury-Wodonga in that they eye each other across the great river divide. 'Lizzie' was in fine form and worked us delicately around the old medieval walls of Beaucaire to park us right outside the apartment.

Beaucaire's streets are narrow and exude a somewhat tired 17th century atmosphere with its old 'hotels' of bourgeois merchants but with many potentially wonderful 'maisons'. It still seems to be undiscovered with few of these classic houses fully restored. On the other hand, Tarascon has a thriving business community as well as pride in its streets and homes.

Tarascon streets in full bloom One thriving thing in Beaucaire- a millionaire's marina!

At this time of year residents of Tarascon go wild – canons were firing all afternoon, pirate ships were sailing up and down the Rhone and medieval re-enactments were being held along the shoreline. I managed to join a few merry pirates who were very excited that two Australians were joining in their festivities!

Three jolly gentlemen of Tarascon!

Great setting for a pirate party!

All hands on deck tomorrow as we're off to the famous Gallo-Roman Pont du Gard for a 9.00 am appointment. See ya!!!

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