France, The Roman Empire

Glanum: Celts, Greeks and Romans

Glanum was founded in the 6th century BCE by the Salyens, a Celto-Ligurian tribe, on the flanks of The Alpilles, a small mountain range about 20 km  (12 miles) south of Avignon, just outside present day Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. It was a  fortified town or oppidum, (a term still in use ever since Caesar’s conquest of Gaul) known for it’s healing springs. Glanum later became a Roman city in Provincia, modern day Provence, until its final abandonment in 260 CE.

It’s known for two particularly well-preserved Roman monuments, known as Les Antiques; a mausoleum and the oldest triumphal arch in France, both from the 1st century BCE. The Salyens, Provence’s largest Celto-Ligurian tribe, first built a rampart of stones on the peaks surrounding the valley of Notre-Dame-de-Laval in the 4th century BCE, then Glanum was constructed in the valley with a shrine to the Celtic god Glanis built around the spring. Glanum grew until the 2nd century BCE when another city wall was added.

The town kept a strong Celtic identity with statues and pottery telling us of residents named Vrittakos, Eporix, Litumaros, and local god Glanis and his companions the Glanicae, similar to the Roman Matres with goddesses Rosmerta and Epona. Celtic customs where upheld, such as the displaying severed heads of enemies at the city gate and cooking utensils found in the ruins shows the inhabitants favoured boiling pots over frying pans setting them apart from other Mediterranean tribes.

Glanum had early contacts with Massalia (present day Marseille), a Greek colony founded around 600 BCE, resulting in Hellenic influences in both art and architecture. 2nd century wars with Massalia however meant the Greeks soon called upon their Roman allies. In 125 BCE the Salyens were defeated by the Roman consul Flaccus, and again the following year by Sextus when much of Glanum was destroyed. The town prospered again, thanks to its popular springs, Glanum minted silver coins and new monuments were built until another rebellion against Rome in 90 BCE. This was crushed again, this time by the Roman consul Caecilius, and public buildings were yet again destroyed and replaced by more modest structures.

In 49 BCE Caesar captured Massalia, and after the civil wars a general romanization of Provence began. Emperor Augustus created the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis in 27 BCE and gave Glanum latin citizen status. This was when Les Antiques where both built, the triumphal arch built slightly after the mausoleum between 25-10 BCE. Thet are shown at the start of the film (on the top of the page).

During the late 1st century BCE, and the early first centruy CE, a forum, temples, and a curved stone arch dam was built, Glanum Dam, the oldest of its kind, along with an aqueduct, supplying the fountains and baths in the town. Glanum became less prosperous than other Roman colonies such as Arles, Avignon or Cavaillon but still had several impressive buildings clad in marble by the 2nd century CE.

Glanum was finally overrun and destroyed by the Alemanni in 260 CE and subsequently abandoned, its inhabitants moving just a short distance north into the plain to found what later became Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. Glanum then became a source of stone and other building materials. Since the Roman sewers and drainage sytem was not maintained, the ruins were eventually flooded and became covered with mud and sediment. “Les Antiques,” remained famous however, and where eventually visited by Charles IX of France, who had the surroundings cleaned up and maintained in the 16th century.

Some excavations were made around the monuments by the marquis de Lagoy in the Vallons-de-Notre-Dame who found sculptures and coins. Further excavations began in the 19th century culminating in 1921, when the architect of historic monuments, Jules Foremigé began working on the site and remained there until 1941. Archeologist Pierre LeBrun discovered the baths, the basilica, and the residences of the northern town between 1928 – 1933. Henri Roland worked on the Iron Age sanctuary, to the south from 1942-69, excavating the area from the forum to the sanctuary. The objects he discovered are on display today at the hotel de Sade in the Saint-Remy-de-Provence. New excavation and exploration work began in 1982, devoted mainly to preservation of the site, and to exploring beneath sites already discovered for older works.

Sources: on site information signs and Private Tours Blog:

The songs in the film are *Volgaz’ and ’Soulburner’ both by Hands Of Doom.

Journey Thru History, Perseus Records ® 2016

Germany, The Roman Empire

Battle of Teutoburg Forest

Kalkriese, Northern Germany.Quintilius Varus, give me back my legions!” These are the famed supposed words of the first Roman Emperor Augustus, as he wondered around the palace after dark during the twilight of his years, still tormented by the loss of the 17th, 18th and 19th legions.

This was no ordinary defeat. It was a massive blow to the prestige and lifeswork of Augustus, perhaps one of the most ambitous men during all of antiquity. Since the assassination of his adoptive father Julius Caesar, Augustus’ reign had at first been plagued by conflict and unrest until a new stability was brought forth by his successful military campaigns, his ever increasing rise towards more power and how he managed at the same time to maintain a clever strategy of humility and honour.

His orignal name was Octavian. He later added Julius Caesar to his name, then divi filius or son of God as Caesar was proclaimed a God. After outmaneuvering and defeating all his rivals he was eventually proclaimed Augustus by the senate, meaning “great” or “venerable”, derived from Latin augere “to increase”.

Augustus most dangerous rival had been his former friend and ally Mark Antony, whom together with Octavians’ adoptive father’s old lover, Cleaopatra, posed a serious threath to his claim to power. Through a long and difficult struggle, not least through propaganda from both sides, Augustus was ultimately proclaimed victorious after a decisive naval battle against the Egyptian fleat at Actium, Western Greece in 31 BCE.

Augustus took much caution as he gradually and slowly put a definitive end to the Roman Republic, in effect becoming supreme ruler of a new Roman Empire. Monarchs were traditionally regarded with plenty of suspicion by the Romans. During their earliest history as a people they had once been ruled by Etruscan kings, until they rose against their oppressors and demanded freedom from tyranny. Augustus knew he had to play his part well, and according to most historians, played it almost to perfection, issuing a series of family-values type decrees, ambitous building programs and helped transform the Roman state into a World Empire.

The capital was decorated in marble instead of bricks, thought more worthy and in step with the new status as superpower the first Roman Emperor clearly envisioned. This Empire was also to be extended, perhaps indefinately, or at least so it seemed from the many ambitious plans clearly visibly in the both historical and archeological records. The Empire would reach it’s furthest extent during the reign of Emperor Trajan about a centruy later. A significant event took place during the reign of Augustus however that seriously hampered the confidence and momentum of the Roman expansion.

The Romans usually expanded into new territories following a simple yet effective strategy; First military campaigns, then followed a gradual process of romanization. Without going into all the details, it could be said that the Romans were ambitious and on the whole seemed rather confident that other neighbouring peoples would ultimately prefer Roman civilization, compared to what they had been used to. There were in other words no real alternative as the Romans saw it to their rule, and they did not hesitate to strike a brutal blow against those who dared oppose the power of Rome and it’s mighty war machine.

Many would however stand up against the Romans, one in particular has become a long lasting symbol for resistance against the most powerful state the world had yet seen. His name was Arminius. Through the above mentionend process of romanization, he had been lifted from his own Germanic tribe close to the Rhine in Germania and raised in Rome, later becoming a roman citizen and a trusted military ally who proved his allegiance to Rome in battle several times in other parts of the Empire.

His career seemed to be moving in the right direction but for some reason Arminius had other plans besides serving Rome. He was a close personal friend to the Roman commander Varus, responsible for governing Germanic territories by now thought to have been already passified by Rome. A territory stretching from the Eastern shores of the Rhine comprising several Germanic tribes was however determined to make a final stand against Rome. As Varus was to move his three Roman legions into winter quarter, he was convinced by Arminius, who also travelled with the army, to choose a dangerous but quicker path through the deep Teutoburg Forest.

Varus biggest mistake was trusting Arminius loyalty blindly and his then disregard of standard military procedures during similar circumstances. The roman army under foot during the fall of 9 CE was large, perhaps as many as 36 000. Moving through the dense forest stretched them out into a very long line, extremely vulnerable to surprise attack. That’s also exactly what happened next. From a carefullt pre-prepared series of ramparts, disguised as belonging to the forest, Germanic tribes suddenly fell over the romans, carefully having plotted in advance the most strategic benificial spots for the assault.

The Battle of Teutoburg Forest in fact dragged on for about three days until the Romans made a final stand and the military command decided to take their own lifes for fear of what the Germanic tribes would do once they were captured. The scene for this final struggle is perhaps the site at Kalkriese. After the battle the bones of the Roman soldiers were simply left out in the fields. Some officers were ritually sacrificed in forest lakes or on altars, and also left as grim reminders to anyone passing through that part of the forest. They were all later reburied by roman commander Germanius, father of Emperor Caligula, about 7 years later.

Emperor Augustus had then been dead for about two years, probably dying from old age as he was in his 70’s by then, but maybe also in part because of the heartbreak from the sudden loss of about 10-15% of his beloved Roman armies.


Song used in the film: ‘Thou Shalt Not Stone’ by Hands Of Doom

Journey Thru History, Perseus Records ® 2015

France, On a more personal note, The Roman Empire

New arrivals

While having been quite busy lately editing films for my blog posts, I’m actually supposed to be doing something else. I’m currently researching an upcoming Thesis about the Roman presence in Gaul during the reign of Augustus.

It will (hopefully) be a cogent study how several Roman monuments in present day France proved significant in the process of Romanization. The Romans tended to eventually regard many things as their very own, such as the Mediterranean Sea which became Mare Nostrum, Our Sea. After successfully having subjugated all tribes in an area, the next step for the Romans was often trying to found permanent settlements for those having formerly served in the Roman military. It’s from these veteran colonies, or Colonia our modern word for colony is derived.

Then, to provide necessary stability in the newly conquered regions the Romans would provide it’s inhabitants with a variety of amenities such as permanent military presence with forts for protection, carefully planned towns with marketplaces, aqueducts for supplying fresh water for baths and agriculture – and last but not least – great monuments; to prove beyond any doubt who was in charge and that this was now Roman lands with approval from the very Gods.

Provincia NostraOur Province, was thus the name gradually chosen by the Romans for the area still known today as Provence in the South of France. It was the very first in a series of Roman provinces founded North of the Alps.


(It’s nice to have an excuse to get some new books!)