Remembering the Forty Five

Trophée d'Auguste 4Trophée d’Auguste à La Turbie overlooks the French Riviera.

Between 25 and 14 BC the Alps were conquered by Emperor Augustus.  Situated at the frontier of Gaul, the trophy dedicated to the subjugation of Forty Five tribes was created from 7 – 6 BC.  Still a prominent monument in the landscape 2000 years later, it was then a symbol of Imperial dominance.  Yet when it was constructed it required legitimacy from a mythical past, perhaps to evoke demi-god like status upon the Emperor, deliberately situated in part of a landscape associated with the journeys of Hercules (Heracles Monoikos), referred by some as the ‘Heraclean Way’.

Trophée d'Auguste 1 The site was remodeled in the Medieval period as a fortress, which was inhabited to 1705, at which point it was largely dismantled to provide stone for the construction of the adjacent village.

Trophée d'Auguste 2In 1913 consolidation and reconstruction with remains from the site (anastylosis) commenced.

Trophée d'Auguste 3This process continued in 1934 by Jules Formigé but with more significant reconstruction with new materials. To the extent on the west side a marble slab (17.45 m x 2.66 m) was re-created, in part from original fragments found at the site, and based on an account of the original transcription in Pliny the Elders Naturalis Historia. 

It reads:

To the Emperor Caesar, Son of Divus Augustus, Pontifex Maximus, Imperator fourteen Times, and invested with the Authority of the Tribune seventeen Times : the Senate and People of Rome : For that under his Conduct and Auspices, all the Alpine Nations which reached from the Upper Sea to the Nether, were reduced under the Empire of the People of Rome. The Alpine Nations subdued:  Triumpilini, Camuni, Vennonetes, Isarci, Breuni, Naunes, and Focunates. Of the Vindelici four Nations: the Consuanetes, Virucinates, Licates, and Catenates. The Abisontes, Rugusce, Suanetes, Calucones, Brixentes, Lepontii, Viberi, Nantuates, Seduni, Veragri, Salad, Acitavones, Medulli, Uceni, Caturiges, Brigiani, Sogiontiiy Ebroduntii, Nemaloni, Edenates, Esubiani, Veamini, Gallitce, Triulatti, Ectini, Vergunni, Eguituri, Nementuri, Oratelli, Nerusivelauni, Suetri.

Names of peoples long forgotten by most…

Monaco GoatThe site however overlooks Monaco,

its name derived in antiquity from Heracles Monoikos

More importantly, perhaps, the Victory Monument towers above the site of Oppidum du Mont des Mules.  The site of the Ligurian fortification created perhaps about 250 BC which would have been subjugated during the campaign of Emperor Augustus.Oppida BuildStill the stone ramparts, of this tribal center, stand.  An alternative claim

on the landscape

from the Roman dominance

above.

The lines of the ramparts can still be

traced,

Oppidum du Mont De Mules 1Dressed blocks showing the scale of what was once before.

RampartQuarried from the hill top, reconfigured, bounded in stone.

Oppidum du Mont De Mules 2Its ramparts, so close, as its wider landscape, to still be part of Monaco below.

Oppidum du Mont De Mules 3But go off the path, and you can find gestures which evoke different views of the world.

Offerings 1 Offerings 2   Not simply one stone, embellished as a tribal head.

Rather a component of a bigger piece, a cairn with other stones embellished.

The individual pieces expressed in different terms but together creating a visible statement of unity.

Offerings 3One had a stenciled profile of a building, and I wonder what the hidden faces of other

stones

would

reveal.

But then from the view point at Oppidum du Mont des Mules,

another world

was revealed

below…

Way Below…Casino de Monte-Carlo,

shaken and stirred,

I reflected on the

forty five tribes.

 ———————————————————————————————————————

The visit to these sites was part of a study tour to the Maritime-Alps which followed the salt routes from the coast to the inland mountainous landscapes.

Further information:

Trophée d’Auguste à La Turbie

Pliny’s Natural History For the 45 tribe passage quoted above see page 192-193

Oppidum du Mont des Mules

Via Julia Augusta

Monaco Museum of Prehistory

Old SignageOlder Interpretive Plan of Oppidum du Mont Des Mules.

Sign of the TimesRecent Interpretive Signage of Le Trophée d’Auguste

How times change !

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Concert-Natura

Located in rural Catalonia, nine kilometres north of the city of Tarragona, is the Mèdol quarry.

The quarry is up to 20 metres deep, 200 metres long and 40 metres wide, it is thought that 50,000 cubic metres of stone were quarried from here !  It dates to the Roman presence when Tárraco (Tarragona) was the provincial center of Hispania and is thought to have been the source of much of the stone for many of the great public buildings in the city.

What is striking as you enter the quarry is the huge pinnacle of rock, L’Agulla del Mèdol, which the extraction of the quarry respected through out its use and which has survived intact to this day.  A solitary and mysterious figure, it dominates the space,

but as you move further into the quarry you are met with dense vegetation of oak, olive and mastik trees, it feels like a lost world…!

Mèdol quarry was inscribed in 2000 as part of the UNESCO world heritage site Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco.  Further details about Roman Tárraco can be found at the El Museu Nacional Arqueològic de Tarragona (National Archaeological Museum of Tarragona) website.  More information about Roman quarries in North-East Hispania can be found in a published thesis by Anna Gutiérrez Garcia-Moreno, Roman Quarries in the Northeast of Hispania (Modern Catalonia).   The thesis is an fascinating study of the minerology, techniques of quarrying and the cultural background to their use in the Roman period and beyond.  There is an excellent account of the subsequent understanding by archaeologists of El Mèdol, which is unexcavated, in which it is noted that between 1931 and 1934 it was the focus of a

‘concert-natura’,… which was supposed to give El Mèdol an international reputation as the Auditori Natural de Catalunya (ibid 147)’

Its amazing to think that there still remains such striking evidence of Roman activity in the landscapes of Catalonia but no surprise that they continue to capture the imagination.