Languedoc

The late Bronze Age and first Iron Age sequence in Languedoc is still exemplified in the classic sequence of settlements and cemeteries at Mailhac, Aude (Louis et al., 1955; 1958; 1960), though more recent excavations such as those at the Peyrou cemetery at Agde have greatly amplified our understanding of the problems of the transition to the Iron Age. The assemblage from the cemetery of Le Moulin (Mailhac I), described by Guilaine (1972) as 'un authentique Age du Bronze terminal' showed a local version of Urnfield cremation in a shallow pit or scoop under a simple capping of slabs, often with several accessory vessels and offerings of meat. The pots include characteristic Urnfield types, globular jars with cylindrical neck, though sometimes with a foot-ring in place of simple, flat base, and open dishes, again in modified Urnfield tradition. Fluted decoration is characteristic, but more locally distinctive is incised geometric ornament, including triangles, chevrons and meanders, and highly stylized figural scenes, anthropomorphic and zoomorphic (Figure 9.2). The number and significance of the latter should not be over-estimated, though they are distinctive of this phase, here, and at the apparently contemporary cemeteries of Millas and Las Fados. Metal-work was evidently quite a common accompaniment of burial, but survives only in fragments. Broadly contemporary with the cemetery was the first occupation of the hilltop at Le Cayla. The 'classic' Mailhac I sequence has been subject to subdivision in recent years, and some radiocarbon dates are now available indicating that it was fully developed by the ninth century bc.

The cemetery at Grand Bassin I marks the transition to the First Iron Age, though the extent to which this represents a major break in continuity is still much debated. It was not until the later seventh and sixth centuries that the Greek colonies at Massilia and Emporion were established, with the consequential appearance in settlements and cemeteries along the Mediterranean coast of datable ceramics of Phoenician and Etruscan as well as of Greek origin. The problem of identifying a distinctive native assemblage prior to this horizon had resulted in the retarded dating of the Urnfield phenomenon in southern France. The recognition of earlier and later phases at Agde allows the possibility of a later eighth- and seventh-century transition, before the

Figure 9.2 Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic 'matchstick' images on pottery. 1, 2, Cayla de Mailhac hill-fort, Aude; 3, Le Moulin cemetery, Aude; 4, Tumulus de Villement, St-Aoutrille, Indre; 5, Grotte Basse de Vidauque, Vaucluse; 6, 7, Las Fados, Pépieux, Aude, grave 22; 8, Grotte de Mont-Peyroux, Hérault; 9, d'En-Bonnes cemetery, Fanjeaux, Aude; 10, Millas cemetery, Pyrénées-Orientales; 11, Grotte de Quéroy, Chazelles, Charente. Adapted from Louis et al. (1955; 1958 and 1960).

Figure 9.2 Anthropomorphic and zoomorphic 'matchstick' images on pottery. 1, 2, Cayla de Mailhac hill-fort, Aude; 3, Le Moulin cemetery, Aude; 4, Tumulus de Villement, St-Aoutrille, Indre; 5, Grotte Basse de Vidauque, Vaucluse; 6, 7, Las Fados, Pépieux, Aude, grave 22; 8, Grotte de Mont-Peyroux, Hérault; 9, d'En-Bonnes cemetery, Fanjeaux, Aude; 10, Millas cemetery, Pyrénées-Orientales; 11, Grotte de Quéroy, Chazelles, Charente. Adapted from Louis et al. (1955; 1958 and 1960).

advent of Mediterranean imports, to which the later phases of the Le Moulin cemetery might also be assigned (Guilaine and Py, 2000). Accordingly, Janin and others (Janin and Chardenon, 2000) have now identified a transitional phase between Bronze Age and full Iron Age, represented by a number of graves on the fringes of the Moulin cemetery, dating to the middle quarters of the eighth century. Some changes are already apparent in these grave assemblages; the range of types and number of pottery vessels increases, though incised decoration is less common, and occasional exotic types like double-springed Italic brooches are included in the inventory.

The cemetery of Grand Bassin I (Mailhac II) represents a significant development in the sequence, in which iron appears for the first time. Grave-goods are more numerous - several dozen accessory vessels may be included with a single ossuary, and metal types, brooches, bracelets and iron knives are relatively common - and the range of pottery includes taller pedestals, more angular profiles and flaring rims. Furthermore, the form of burial now includes deposition in a deeper pit, sometimes with stone capping amounting to corbelling on a small scale. One example of the better-furnished burials of this phase was tomb 68 ('La Redorte'), which included no less than fifty-eight accessory vessels together with the cremation urn, though it remains unclear how multiple accessory vessels and metal-work rank relatively as an index of social status. In the ensuing phase (Mailhac III) the Grand Bassin II cemetery expanded from its predecessor, though preserving the rite of inurned cremation. Imported Greek and Etruscan amphorae were sometimes used as the ossuary, and Attic black-figure, Etruscan bucchero nero and Phocaean pottery are indicative of intensified Mediterranean connections in the sixth century. Metal-work included belt-plaques with three hooks, cross-bow brooches with expanded spring and upturned feet, iron antenna daggers and iron shafted spear-heads. At the same time, the hill-fort at Le Cayla acquired defensive walls, in which mud-brick was used on stone foundations in the Mediterranean style.

From the fifth to the end of the second century, when southern Gaul came under Roman domination as the province of Gallia Narbonensis, settlements in Languedoc display obvious Hellenistic influence in the layout and construction of the major oppida, notable, for example, in the planned interior of the third century town of Les Castels at Nages (Gard), or in the incorporation of elliptical bastions into the walls at Ambrussum and Nages. The interior buildings nevertheless remain relatively simple, rectangular structures, aligned along the walls or metalled streets; public or religious buildings are rare, though some buildings at Enserune doubtless served a special function. In the fifth and fourth centuries bc the cemetery of the second town at Enserune, extending to more than five hundred graves, included among the grave-goods not only Greek, Italic and Iberian imports, but ornaments and weapons of La Tene type, indicating diplomatic or commercial contacts with Central Europe as well as with the Mediterranean.

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