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Greeks in pre-Roman Gaul

greeks in pre-roman gaul
The Greeks in pre-Roman Gaul have a significant history of settlement, trade, cultural influence, and armed conflict in the Celtic territory of Gaul modern France, starting from the 6th century BC during the Greek Archaic period Following the founding of the major trading post of Massalia in 600 BC by the Phocaeans at present day Marseille, Massalians had a complex history of interaction with peoples of the region

Contents

  • 1 Settlement at Marseille 600 BC
  • 2 Greek trade in Gaul
  • 3 Legacy
    • 31 Numismatics
      • 311 Coins from the 5th to 1st century BC
  • 4 See also
  • 5 Notes
  • 6 References

Settlement at Marseille 600 BCedit

Remains of the Greek harbour in the Jardin des Vestiges in central Marseille, the most extensive Greek settlement in pre-Roman Gaul

The oldest city within modern France, Marseille, was founded around 600 BC by Greeks from the Asia Minor city of Phocaea as mentioned by Thucydides Bk1,13, Strabo, Athenaeus and Justin as a trading post or emporion Greek: ἐμπόριον under the name Μασσαλία Massalia12

A foundation myth reported by Aristotle in the 4th century BC as well as by Latin authors, recounts how the Phocaean Protis son of Euxenus married Gyptis or Petta, the daughter of a local Segobriges king called Nannus, thus giving him the right to receive a piece of land where he was able to found a city234 The contours of the Greek city have been partially excavated in several neighborhoods56 The Phocaean Greeks introduced the cult of Artemis, as in their other colonies7

It is thought that contacts started even earlier however, as Ionian Greeks traded in the Western Mediterranean and Spain, but only very little remains from that earlier period1 Contacts developed undisputedly from 600 BC, between the Celts and Celto-Ligurans and the Greeks in the city of Marseille and their other colonies such as Agde, Nice, Antibes, Monaco, Emporiae and Rhoda18 The Greeks from Phocaea also founded settlements in the island of Corsica, such as at Alalia9 From Massalia, the Phocaean Greeks also founded cities in northeastern Spain such as Emporiae and Rhoda

In legend, Gyptis, daughter of the king of the Segobriges, chose the Greek Protis, who then received a site for founding Massalia

Before the Greeks came to pre-eminence in the Gulf of Lion, trade was mainly handled by Etruscans and Carthaginians9 The Greeks of Massalia had recurrent conflicts with Gauls and Ligurians of the region,10 and engaged in naval battles against Carthaginians in the late 6th century Thucydides 113 and probably in 490 BC, and soon entered into a treaty with Rome7

According to Charles Ebel, writing in the 1960s, "Massalia was not an isolated Greek city, but had developed an Empire of its own along the coast of southern Gaul by the fourth century"11 But the idea of a Massalian "empire" is no longer credible in the light of recent archaeological evidence, which shows that Massalia never even had a very large chora agricultural territory under its direct control12 However further archaeological evidence since shows Massalia had over twelve cities in its network in France, Spain, Monaco and Corsica Cities Massalia founded that still exist today are Nice, Antibes, Monaco, Le Brusc, Agde, and Aleria There is evidence of direct rule of at least two of their cities with a flexible system of autonomy as suggested by Emporion and Rhodus' own coin minting Massalia's empire was not the same as the monolithic of the ancient world or of the nineteenth century being a scattered group of cities connected by the sea and rivers The Delian League was also a scattered group of cities spread far across the sea and became known as the Athenian Empire13

Greek Marseille eventually became a centre of culture which drew some Roman parents to send their children there to be educated According to earlier views, a purported hellenization of Southern France prior to the Roman Conquest of Transalpine Gaul is thought to have been largely due to the influence of Massalia1415 However, more recent scholarship has shown that the idea of Hellenization was illusory and that the concept itself is seriously flawed The power and cultural influence of Massalia have been called into question by demonstrating the limited territorial control of the city and showing the distinctive cultures of indigenous societies Local Gauls were not Grecophiles who wanted to imitate Greek culture, but peoples who selectively consumed a very limited range of Greek objects mostly wine and drinking ceramics that they incorporated into their own cultural practices according to their own systems of value1617

Greek trade in Gauledit

Further information: Tin sources and trade in ancient times The Vix krater, an imported Greek wine-mixing vessel from 500 BC attests to the trade exchanges of the period

These eastern Greeks, established on the shores of southern France, were in close relations with the Celtic inhabitants of the region, and during the late 6th and 5th centuries BC Greek artifacts penetrated northwards alongs the Rhône and Saône valleys as well as the Isère12 Massalian grey monochrome pottery has been discovered in the Hautes Alpes and as far north as Lons-le-Saunier, as well as three-winged bronze arrowheads as far as northern France, and amphorae from Marseille and Attic pottery at Mont Lassois118 The site of Vix in northern Burgundy is a well-known example of a Hallstatt settlement where such Mediterranean objects were consumed, albeit in small quantities Some, like the famous Vix krater, were spectacular in nature19

Detail from Vix krater: frieze of hoplites and four-horse chariots on the rim

From Marseille, maritime trade also developed with Languedoc and Etruria, and with the Greek city of Emporiae on the coast of Spain2 Massalia traded as least as far as Gades and Tartessus on the western coast of the Iberian peninsula, as described in the Massaliote Periplus, although this trade was probably blocked by the Carthaginians at the Pillars of Hercules after 500 BC2021

The mother city of Phocaea would ultimately be destroyed by the Persians in 545, further reinforcing the exodus of the Phocaeans to their settlements of the Western Mediterranean922 Trading links were extensive, in iron, spices, wheat and slaves23 It has been claimed frequently that a trade in tin, indispensable for the manufacture of bronze, seems to have been established at that time between Cornwall in modern England, through the Channel, and along the Seine valley, Burgundy and the Rhône-Saône valleys to Marseille23 However, the evidence for this is weak, at best24

Legacyedit

Statue of Greek explorer, Pytheas of Massilia, located on the exterior of the Palais de la Bourse He explored northern Europe from Marseille c 325 BC

Overland trade with Celtic countries beyond the Mediterranean region declined around 500 BC, in conjunction with the troubles following the end of the Halstatt civilization2 The site of Mont Lassois was abandoned around that time2

The Greek colony of Massalia remained active in the following centuries Around 325 BC, Pytheas Ancient Greek Πυθέας ὁ Μασσαλιώτης made a voyage of exploration to northwestern Europe as far as the Arctic Circle from his city of Marseilles2526 His discoveries contributed to the elaboration of the ancient world maps of Dicaearchus, Timaeus and Eratosthenes, and to the development of the parallels of latitude2627

Tablet with Gallo-Greek inscription found south of Nîmes Musée Calvet, Avignon

The La Tène style, based on floral ornamentation, in contrast to the geometric styles of Early Iron Age Europe, can be traced to an imaginative re-interpretation of motifs on imported objects of Greek or Etruscan origin2829

During his conquest of Gaul, Caesar reported that the Helvetii were in possession of documents in the Greek script, and all Gaulish coins used the Greek script until about 50 BC14

Numismaticsedit

Coins in pre-Roman Gaul Massalian silver drachma 375-200 BC Obv head of Artemis, rev lion, Greek inscription ΜΑΣΣΑΛΙΑ, "Massalia" A coin of the Veneti, with head in profile and horse, derived from Greek coin designs, 5th–1st century BC

Celtic coinage emerged in the 4th century BC, and, influenced by trade with the Greeks and the supply of mercenaries to them, initially copied Greek designs1430 Celtic coinage was influenced by Greek designs,31 and Greek letters can be found on various Celtic coins, especially those of Southern France32 Greek coinage occurred in the three Greek cities of Massalia, Emporiae and Rhoda, and was copied throughout southern Gaul30

Coins in northern Gaul were especially influenced by the coinage of Philip II of Macedon and his famous son Alexander the Great30

Celtic coins often retained Greek subjects, such as the head of Apollo on the obverse and two-horse chariot on the reverse of the gold stater of Philip II, but developed their own style from that basis, thus establishing a Graeco-Celtic synthesis1430

After this first period in which Celtic coins rather faithfully reproduced Greek types, designs started to become more symbolic, as exemplified by the coinage of the Parisii in the Belgic region of northern France30 By the 2nd century BC, the Greek chariot was only represented by a symbolic wheel14

The Armorican Celtic style in northwestern Gaul also developed from Celtic designs from the Rhine valley, themselves derived from earlier Greek prototypes such as the wine scroll and split palmette30

With the Roman invasion of Gaul, Greek-inspired Celtic coinage started to incorporate Roman influence instead, until it disappeared to be completely replaced by Roman coinage30

By the 1st century BC, the coinage of the Greeks of Marseille circulated freely in Gaul,14 also influencing coinage as far afield as Great Britain The coins of the Sunbury hoard, thought to have been manufactured in Kent, show designs derived from Greek coins from Marseille with the stylised head of Apollo and a butting bull33 Recently original bronze coins 3rd-2nd century BC from Greek Marseille have been found in several locations around Kent, UK34

Coins from the 5th to 1st century BCedit

Celtic coin designs progressively became more abstract, as is exemplified by the coins of the Parisii:

See alsoedit

  • Pytheas
  • Emporion

Notesedit

  1. ^ a b c d e The Cambridge ancient history p754
  2. ^ a b c d e f A history of ancient Greece Claude Orrieux p62
  3. ^ The Celts: a history by Raithi O Hogain, p27
  4. ^ A Companion to the Classical Greek World Konrad H Kinzl p183
  5. ^ Archaeologies of Colonialism: Consumption, Entanglement, and Violence in Ancient Mediterranean France by Michael Dietler, 2010, p 308-321 1
  6. ^ Marc Bouiron and Henri Tréziny eds Marseille: trames et paysages urbains de Gyptis au Roi René, 2001, Edisud
  7. ^ a b Transalpine Gaul: the emergence of a Roman province by Charles Ebel p10- 2
  8. ^ The western shores of Turkey: discovering the Aegean and Mediterranean coasts by John Freely p91 3
  9. ^ a b c A history of ancient Greece Claude Orrieux p61
  10. ^ Archaeologies of Colonialism: Consumption, Entanglement, and Violence in Ancient Mediterranean France by Michael Dietler, 2010, p157-182 4
  11. ^ Transalpine Gaul: the emergence of a Roman province by Charles Ebel p2
  12. ^ Archaeologies of Colonialism: Consumption, Entanglement, and Violence in Ancient Mediterranean France by Michael Dietler, 2010 5
  13. ^ The Greek Empire of Marseille: Discoverer of Britain, Saviour of Rome by Christopher Gunstone, 2013, p37, p150
  14. ^ a b c d e f The European Iron Age by John Collis p144 ff
  15. ^ King 1990, pp 11–33, Chapter I, "Greeks and Celts"
  16. ^ "World's richest cities in 2009" City Mayors 22 August 2009 Retrieved 14 June 2010 
  17. ^ "The Iron Age in Mediterranean France: colonial encounters, entanglements, and transformations" by Michael Dietler, Journal of World Prehistory 1997, vol11, pages 269-357
  18. ^ Consumption and Colonial Encounters in the Rhône Basin of France: A Study of Early Iron Age Political Economy by Michael Dietler, Monographies d’Archéologie Meditérranéenne, 21, CNRS, 2005, p39-102
  19. ^ L'oppidum de Vix et la civilisation hallstattienne finale dans l'Est de la France by René Joffroy Paris, Les Belles Lettres, 1960
  20. ^ Ireland and the classical world by Philip Freeman p32
  21. ^ The History of Cartography John Brian Harley p150
  22. ^ The ancient mariners Lionel Casson p74
  23. ^ a b A history of ancient Greece Claude Orrieux p63
  24. ^ Consumption and Colonial Encounters in the Rhône Basin of France: A Study of Early Iron Age Political Economy by Michael Dietler, Monographies d’Archéologie Meditérranéenne, 21 CNRS, 20056
  25. ^ The History of Cartography by John Brian Harley p150
  26. ^ a b The hellenistic world by Frank William Walbank p205
  27. ^ The History of Cartography John Brian Harley p150-
  28. ^ European prehistory: a survey Sarunas Milisauskas p354
  29. ^ The archaeology of late Celtic Britain and Ireland, c 400–1200 AD Lloyd Robert Laing p342
  30. ^ a b c d e f g Celtic culture: a historical encyclopedia" John T Koch p461-
  31. ^ Boardman, John 1993, The Diffusion of Classical Art in Antiquity, Princeton University Press, p308
  32. ^ Celtic Inscriptions on Gaulish and British Coins" by Beale Poste p135 7
  33. ^ Museum of London exhibit
  34. ^ The Greek Empire of Marseille: Discoverer of Britain, Saviour of Rome, 2013 p 176, p 548
  35. ^ Showing stylised head of Apollo and butting bull

Referencesedit

  • Boardman, John 1993, The Diffusion of Classical Art in Antiquity, Princeton University Press, ISBN 0-691-03680-2 
  • Dietler, Michael 2005, Consumption and Colonial Encounters in the Rhône Basin of France: A Study of Early Iron Age Political Economy, Monographies d’Archéologie Meditérranéenne, 21 CNRS, ISBN 2-912369-10-X 
  • Dietler, Michael 2010, Archaeologies of Colonialism: Consumption, Entanglement, and Violence in Ancient Mediterranean France, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-26551-3 
  • Ebel, Charles 1966, Pre-Roman Greeks in Gaul, University of Iowa 
  • Gunstone, Christopher 2013, The Greek Empire of Marseille: Discoverer of Britain, Saviour of Rome, CreateSpace, ISBN 978-1481239660 
  • King, Anthony 1990, Roman Gaul and Germany, University of California Press, ISBN 0-520-06989-7 

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