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24.9.04

Bibracte

View of BibracteFrance 2 has a set of Web pages called La renaissance de Bibracte, by Laurent Ribadeau Dumas. Bibracte was a Gallic citadel on Mount Beuvray, in the heart of the Morvan region, about a half-hour from Autun. A city that reached 5,000 to 20,000 in population was founded near the end of the 2nd century BC on this mountain, at an altitude of 820 meters (a little over a half-mile). According to Caesar's account of the Gallic Wars, Bibracte was the "largest and wealthiest oppidum (fortified town)" in the region.

After allying themselves temporarily with the Romans, under Caesar, the Galls made an alliance of tribes at Bibracte, under the famous warlord Vercingetorix. That history of the site, as a possible birthplace for the idea of France, led President Mitterand to place Bibracte on the list of important national treasures. Mitterand even left instructions to have himself buried at Bibracte, a plan that was never carried out, because of local opposition. Archeological excavations continue throughout the large area of protected land, and a number of interesting finds can be seen in the Museum of Celtic Civilization on the mountaintop. The museum is hosting an exhibit right now called L'or blanc de Hallstatt, on the lives of salt miners in Austria 2,500 years ago.

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