Featured Glanum the lost and recovered ancient city

Discussion in 'Ancient Coins' started by Parthicus Maximus, Oct 19, 2019.

  1. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Last summer I was in the South of France. We had a good time and visited some interesting Ancient sites. Although I thought about posting something about this before but I haven't had the time so far, but now I have.

    The most interesting place that we visited were the ruins of ancient Glanum. That's why I want to post about that now.

    The location
    Glanum is located in the extreme south of France in the limestone hills of the Alpilles. it is around 25 km from the city of Arles. The area is very wooded and rocky. It can also become very hot in the summer. During my visit it was already around 35 ° C at the end of the morning.

    The history of Glanum
    The first settlement dates from between the fourth and second centuries BC.
    Then Celto-Ligurian tribes built an oppidum in the valley. There would have been a water source with healing effect there. Soon a small town was created that was dedicated to the Celtic god Glanis. Glanum soon began to grow into a small town for antique concepts. This had to do with the fact that Glanum was very favorable, on the one hand it was protected by the Alpilles but on the other it was not far from the Mediterranean Sea. Glanum continued to grow as settlers from Massilia came to the town. The city would experience three centuries of relative prosperity from the 2nd century BC to the 1th AC.

    the view over a part of the ancient city of Glanum

    Glanum was a Gallo-Greek city with a very interesting mix of cultures. Great things were built. but most of it is lost to us, it was destroyed at the end of the second century BC. And again in 90 BC. Most of the ruins and buildings therefore also date from the Gallo-Roman era.

    During the Roman period, the city continued to flourish, because it was on a favorable point on the Via Domitia not far from the Via Aurelia.
    In 49 BC, Julius Caesar conquered The Provence and with it Glanum. Around 45 BC, many of Caesar's veterans gained territory in this area and also in Glanum. It was the start of a lasting change. The city became more and more Roman. The city did not become a Roman colony such as Nemausus and Arles, it was called oppidum latinum. This meant that the city was also a colony, but with fewer rights than a real colony.

    In 22 BC, Emperor Augustus created the Roman province of Gallia Narbonenis. This brought some advantages to the city, for example, all magistrates became Roman citizens. As a result, the city gradually became entirely Roman. A Forum was built, public baths were built and all kinds of Roman temples were built. The city knew enough prosperous, this can be seen from a number of monuments that can be seen to this day. The city had been pretty important during the first and second centuries AC but around 200 the change came. Then the Via Domitia was relocated and trade became less. Yet the city must have been quite prosperous until the destruction in 260.

    Around 260 the Alamen marched through Southern Europe, reaching Tarragona and another group almost reaching Rome, but an army of gladiators and Praetorians beat them. see below the coin of emperor Gallienus on which he thanks the brave praetorians.

    The city of Glanum was also destroyed during these looting. it marked the end of a Roman-Gallic colony. The handful of remaining people left for nearby Saint-Remy-De Provence. Glanum was therefore abandoned and forgotten, it would not be found until the 20th century.

    The monuments

    The mausoleum of the Julii
    By far the most famous monument of Glanum is the mausoleum of the Julii.
    It was build around 40 BC. It is one of the best preserved Roman mausoleums.


    the inscription louds:
    Sextius, Marcus and Lucius Julius, sons of Gaius, to their forebears.

    There are four walls that all depict an event.
    • North face – a battle of horsemen, and a winged victory carries a trophy.
    • East face – an infantryman unhorses an Amazon warrior, a warrior takes trophies from a dead enemy, and the figure of Fame recites the story of the battle to a man and woman. The scene may be inspired by the Amazonomachy, the mythical war between the Greeks and the Amazons.
    • West face – a scene from the Iliad and Trojan war, the Greeks and Trojans fighting for the body of Patroculus.
    • South face – Cavaliers hunt for wild boar in a forest. One cavalier is wounded and dying in the arms of a companion. This may represent the legend of the hunt for the Calydonian boar, conducted by Meleager, with Castor and Pollux shown on horseback.

    The Triumphal Arch
    The triumphal arch was built during the reign of Augustus. It is much less intact than the Mausoleum but there is still enough visible.


    The three involved reliefs show:

    • The panel to the right of the entrance shows a female figure seated on a pile of weapons, and a Gaullish prisoner with his hands tied behind him.
    • The panel to the left shows another prisoner in a Gaullish cloak, with a smaller man, wearing his cloak in the Roman style, placing his hand on the shoulder of the prisoner.
    • On the reverse side of the arch are sculptures of two more pairs of Gaullish prisoners.
    Other monuments
    The Corinthian temple
    The house of Antae, an Hellenistic villa

    The Roman Baths
    The Temple of Glanus

    An overview over a part of the city

    I hope you enjoyed this post! if you have coins from Gaul or the specified periods do not hesitate to show them.


    1. Glanum from Salluvian Oppidum to roman city
    2. Wikipedia.org
    3. And other relevant mostly dutch sources.
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  3. Ocatarinetabellatchitchix

    Ocatarinetabellatchitchix Supporter! Supporter

    Very instructive write-up @Parthicus Maximus . Another place on my
    « To visit list ». Just a question : did you have a drone for the last picture you took ?? :snaphappy:
    Parthicus Maximus likes this.
  4. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    No, I don't have a drone. You can climb to a viewpoint where you can see the entire city.That is where I took the photo.
    Pellinore likes this.
  5. Bing

    Bing Illegitimi non carborundum Supporter

    My family explored Glanum a few years ago. We just happened upon it when we were driving to Provence. It was in late May and still it was fairly hot. I have pics filed somewhere.
    Alegandron and Parthicus Maximus like this.
  6. Deacon Ray

    Deacon Ray Smiles, everyone! Supporter

    Very interesting presentation, @Parthicus Maximus ! When I visited France many years ago, it was long before I caught the history bug. I was oblivious to the remarkable historical surroundings. I need to go back knowing what I know now.
    Theodosius and Parthicus Maximus like this.
  7. Ancient Aussie

    Ancient Aussie Supporter! Supporter

    It looks like you had a good holiday Parthicus, and visiting a gem like Glanum would top it off. Thanks for sharing great coin and pics.
    Parthicus Maximus likes this.
  8. Aestimare

    Aestimare Active Member

    Nice photos and introduction Parthicus, thank you. I just want to add the main corresponding coin from glanum :
    Much too rare, I know none collector who's a happy owner of this kind of drachm.
    Parthicus Maximus likes this.
  9. Parthicus Maximus

    Parthicus Maximus Well-Known Member

    Thank you all for the kind responses.
  10. chrsmat71

    chrsmat71 I LIKE TURTLES!

    gsalexan and Parthicus Maximus like this.
  11. Theodosius

    Theodosius Unrepentant Fine Style Freak! Supporter

    Great story and photos!

    Very cool to be able to explore ancient ruins like that.

    Parthicus Maximus likes this.
  12. gsalexan

    gsalexan Intaglio aficionado

    If I ever get to southern France I will put this on my go-see list!
    Parthicus Maximus likes this.
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