Sunday, June 19, 2011

STEPPING BACK IN TIME: SPRING OF A CELTIC GOD.

19.06.11 STEPPING BACK IN TIME: SPRING OF A CELTIC GOD. Gauls, Greeks and Romans.
Glanum. More photos here
Walked through this main street a few hours ago. Past the Market Pace. The Town Hall. The Church. Finally came to the sacred spring, named after a Celtic god, Glanis. Quite a few people about but there was no trading on the market, no business being transacted in the hall. This is the Gallo-Greco-Roman town of Glanum, over 2000 years old. In particular, it is the Glanum archaeological site, a city rediscovered after 17 centuries.
But back in the year dot, they had running water and also a system to take it away, running the full-length of that main street; they had hot baths, cold or lukewarm, depending on your preference. The Gauls, this Provence branch known as the Salluvii were here about 600 years before Christ. Later, the Greeks, who founded nearby Marseilles, were trading with them, and soon settling in and improving the place (about 200-50BC).
But Glanum really took off in the first century BC when the mighty Romans conquered the Galls. They built some very impressive buildings here, including temples by the sacred spring, a spring that still exists today, even has some fish in it.
Also here is the 2nd century BC Dromas Well. It has a new see through cover and the water, ten metres below the Hellenistic (Greek) ground level, may still be seen.
It is an eye-opening visit. This and the trip to Point du Gard the other day, makes one think if civilisation has advanced or not. And what we were doing in Ireland where many rural areas only got running water in the second half of the last century.
Also a lesson that you can be up there with the best of them and then drop down rapidly. Greece is hanging on today, Italy still have Berlusconi while other great civilisations (the Mayans, for instance) have vanished!
They don’t advertise it much but there is a fantastic viewpoint over the site, overlooked by the Alpilles (the little Alps) and especially by Mont Gaussier. From this viewpoint, you not only see the site itself but will also see nearby St Remy (Glanum’s successor town), Avignon in the far distance and even the white top of Mont Ventoux and more. Very good visit indeed.
Didn’t expect to get culturally excited earlier in the day. Then the aims were simple, the main one being to secure this evening's dinner as most restaurants were booked out for Father’s Day. French traituers usually open for a few hours on Sunday morning and our guy in Fontvieille obliged. Back then for a brisk walk along the banks between the rice fields before a lovely dip in the pool.