Greek Marseille and Mediterranean Celtic Region

by Sophie Bouffier (Volume editor) Dominique Garcia (Volume editor)
©2017 Monographs VI, 304 Pages
Series: Lang Classical Studies, Volume 20


This unique collection of essays contains a synthesis of recent works by distinguished archaeologists and historians in their field, illuminating extensive research in the Southern Gaul and on the territory of the Greek city of Marseille.
Investigating the occupation of Massalia territory before the foundation of the Greek city to the Roman period, these findings provide an overview of the diverse issues behind the circulations between Greeks from Phocaea and Celtic populations. This reflection on a key region of the Euro-Mediterranean space rests on the analysis of archaeological findings, including: urban excavations, spatial studies, analysis of necropolis, submarine remains, paleo-environmental data, and reviewing the ancient literary documentation. These new and innovative findings in Greek Marseille and Mediterranean Celtic Region will be of particular interest to both students and scholars exploring the political, economic and cultural fields of relationships between the Greek migrants and the populations they started to meet at the end of the seventh century BC.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Introduction (Sophie Bouffier / Dominique Garcia)
  • 1. The Littorals in Southern Gaul: State of the Issue (Philippe Leveau)
  • 2. Greeks, Celts and Ligurians in South-East Gaul: Ethnicity and Archaeology (Sophie Bouffier / Dominique Garcia)
  • 3. Territorial Variations: Natives and Greeks in the Mediterranean Celtic Region (Dominique Garcia / Sophie Bouffier)
  • 4. The Exchanges on the Coastline of Southern Gaul in the First Iron Age: From the Hellenisation Concept to That of Mediterraneisation (Dominique Garcia / Jean-Christophe Sourisseau)
  • 5. The Sources of Greek Marseille and of Its Territory: The Ethnica of Stephanus of Byzantium and the Lexicographical References (Marc Bouiron)
  • 6. Territories of the Massaliot Identity: Conservatism or Political and Moral Loosening? (Sophie Bouffier / Emmanuèle Caire)
  • 7. Marseille: An Ionian City in the Greek West (Henri Tréziny)
  • 8. At the Frontiers of Massalian Territory: Greek and Indigenous Rhythms from the Seventh to Second Century BC (Loup Bernard / Sophie Bouffier / Delphine Isoardi)
  • 9. The Cults of Greek Marseille (Antoine Hermary)
  • 10. The Territories In-between: Marseille, Rome and the Gauls (Rachel Feig Vishnia)
  • 11. Marseille Territories of Exchanges (Marie-Brigitte Carre)
  • 12. Greek Marseille and the Gauls of the South: Quite Different Funeral Practices (Fifth–Second Centuries BC) (Bernard Dedet)
  • 13. Land Allotment and Ancient Vineyards around Marseille (Philippe Boissinot)
  • 14. The Greco-Massaliot Shipwrecks in the Place Jules-Verne in Marseille and the Evolution of Greek Ship Construction from the Sixth to the Fourth Century BC (Patrice Pomey)
  • 15. Protohistoric Mediterranean Gaul as a Middle Ground (Michel Bats)
  • Contributors
  • Series Index

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This book is the synthesis of recent works conducted by archaeologists and historians over the past 25 years in Southern Gaul and on the territory of the Greek city of Marseille. It shows an overview of the different issues behind the circulations between Greeks from Phocaea and Celtic populations, from the occupation of the territory of Massalia before the foundation of the Greek city to the Roman period. This reflection on a key region of the Euro-Mediterranean space rests on the analysis of archaeological findings (urban excavations, spatial studies, analysis of necropolis, of submarine remains and of paleo-environmental data…) and reviewing the ancient literary documentation.

Whereas studies generally pertain to the evolution of the region from the Greek viewpoint, by looking for the possible signs of Hellenisation and the mutations officially provoked by the arrival of an Aegean population, the authors have purposely moved the focus on the indigenous (Celtic and Ligurian) populations and offer an innovative insight in the textual as well as archaeological documentation by scrutinising the political, economic and cultural fields of the relationships between the Greek migrants and the populations they started to meet at the end of the seventh century BC. Various fields of the exchanges between these populations are examined and give rise to chapters associated with a synthetic bibliography and a choice of unpublished illustrations. The book is thus broken down into fourteen chapters, written by specialists in Greek, Gallic and Roman societies, who may be archaeologists as well as philologists, who have produced the research on Massalia and its region over the last twenty-five years.

Philippe Leveau first of all takes stock of the results of the paleo-environmental studies dedicated to the Provence milieu before Sophie Bouffier and Dominique Garcia go back over the ethnogenesis and structuring processes ← 1 | 2 → of the Celtic societies in contact with the Greeks by using the anthropological models. The traditional approach to the History of Southern Gaul sets the date of foundation of Massalia, that is 600 BC, as a pivotal position for the whole reflection by considering an anterior and a posterior period, which had to be bound together. This position finds its main origin in the conception of the colonial phenomena, particularly those relating to the Greek world, imposed by the Moderns since at least the nineteenth century. This marked approach has grooved concepts such as the Hellenisation of the South of Gaul (by Fernand Benoît) with consequently the idea of a binary confrontation between Greeks from Massalia and natives. Dominique Garcia and Jean-Christophe Sourisseau endeavour to go beyond the concept of Hellenisation so as to tackle that of Mediterraneisation building the analysis of exchanges on the Gallic coastline.

The analysis of the text sources of Greek Massalia and of its territory covers two chapters; the one on the political and social history of Massalia, often neglected by politologists, revisited by Sophie Bouffier and Emmanuèle Caire by reshaping the view suggested by ancient testimonies, emphasising the specificity of the Massaliot regime and society. They recontextualise the founding texts of Aristoteles throughout the work of that philosopher before reintegrating the customs and usages of the Massaliots in a general environment, characteristic of the culture of the Greek world. Marc Bouiron, now in charge of the study of the Ethnica of Stephanus Byzantinus, proposes a new, rich and systematically structured method for reading the text.

The last three decades have seen considerable increase in the volume of research on the city and the territory of Massalia. From a city without monuments and without a territory, Massalia has become a Greek city like the others, even if certain aspects of its organisation are still eluding us. A chapter, written by Henri Tréziny, a major specialist of Greek urbanism, thus presents an overview of the urban topography of Greek Massalia and offers comparisons with other so-called colonial cities of the Western Medi­terranean region. The renewed field researches on the Marseille territory also enables us to address, according to several approaches, the modes and the rates of settlement by exploring the frontiers of the Marseille territories in the seventh–fifth centuries BC (works of Loup Bernard, Sophie Bouffier, Delphine Isoardi). The archaeological exploration of the Marseille terroirs by Philippe Boissinot has enabled us to unearth the traces of the ancient vineyards and thus to evaluate the spatial extension of a wine economy which the ancient texts and the commercial amphorae had already ← 2 | 3 → permitted scholars to apprehend correctly. The indigenous counterparts (in particular cereals) are also put forward by the study of the storage structures such as granaries and silos (Dominique Garcia).

The book includes a chapter on the cults of that ancient city, impregnated with its Phocaean and Ionian, and on those of its neighbours. Antoine Hermany, the author of numerous articles on the Marseille cults, offers to update the information at our disposal. Bernard Dedet proposes a comparison between the indigenous funeral practices and those recognised in the necropoles of Greek Marseille.

But, as stressed by ancient sources, Massalia is first and foremost a mari­time power, which came more than once to the rescue of its Roman ally before it fell under its domination. To form a tie between Greek and Roman Marseille, Michel Bats’ paper is based on Onomastic, Ancient Literature and Hellenistic Sculpture to propose an analysis of Massaliot society at the dawn of the Roman Conquest.

In this view, Massalia maintains with the other cities relationships which may be sometimes peaceful, sometimes conflictual, studied by the late Rachel Feig-Vishnia in the context of the relations between Massalia and Rome: she suggests in particular that the control of the Gallic tribes, on both sides of the Alps, may have provided a link between both cities before Rome pacified the route between Spain and Italy in the aftermath of the second Punic War. She emphasises, irony of history, that Massalia would probably have largely benefited from the pacification of Gaul by Caesar…but its poor political choice resulted in the loss of its independence.

From then on, Massalia has been a Roman city: the study and the putting in perspective of the material documentation proposed by Marie-Brigitte Carre give an overview of the “Marseille territories of exchanges” which substantially mitigates our view of text data on their own. To form a tie between Greek and Roman Marseille, Michel Bats’ paper is based on Onomastic, Ancient Literature and Hellenistic Sculpture to propose an analysis of Massaliot society at the dawn of the Roman Conquest.

Finally, to complete this update of the Massaliot issues and results, the book proposes a commented bibliography and a webography which will enable English-speaking students and researchers to gain knowledge of the works and research tools developed by the French teams and their partners. ← 3 | 4 →

This work has been produced within the framework of the Unit of Excellence LabexMed—Social Sciences and Humanities at the heart of multidisciplinary research for the Mediterranean—which holds the following reference 10-LABX-0090.

This work has benefited from a state grant administered by the Agence Nationale de la Recherche for the project Investissements d’Avenir A*MIDEX which holds the reference n°ANR-11-IDEX-0001-02.


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Web Resources and Supplementary Bibliography










Arcelin, P., 1986, Le territoire de Marseille dans son contexte indigène. In: Le territoire de Marseille grecque, Actes de la table ronde d’Aix-en-Provence, 1985, Collection Etudes massaliètes 1, 43–104.

Barruol, G., 1969, Les peuples préromains du sud-est de la Gaule. Etude de géographie historique, Paris, De Boccard, 408p.

Bats, M., éd., 1990, Les amphores de Marseille grecque (Actes table ronde de Lattes, 1989), Collection Etudes massaliètes 2, 294p.

Bresson, A., Rouillard, P., éd., 1993,—L’Emporion, Paris, de Boccard, 247p.

Brun, P., Chaume, B., 1997, Vix et les éphémères principautés celtiques. Les Vie–Ve siècles avant J.-C. en Europe centre-occidentale, Paris, Errance, 408p.

Buxo, R., Py, M., 2001, La viticulture en Gaule à l’âge du Fer, Gallia, 2001, 58, 29–43.

Chausserie-Laprée, J., dir., 2000, Le temps des Gaulois en Provence, Martigues, Musée Ziem, 279 p.

Clavel-Lévêque, M., 1977, Marseille grecque, Le dynamisme d’un impérialisme marchand, Jeanne-Laffite, Marseille, 215 p.

Delamarre, X., 2001, Dictionnaire de la langue gauloise, Paris, Errance, 352 p.

Gailledrat, E., 1997, Les Ibères de l’Ebre à l’Hérault, Lattes, Aralo, 336 p.

Gailledrat, E., Taffanel, O., 2002, Le Cayla de Mailhac (Aude), Lattes, Aralo, 272 p.

Gailledrat, E., et al, 2000, Nouvelles données sur l’habitat protohistorique de Mailhac (Aude) au premier âge du Fer (VIIe-Ve s. av. J.-C.), In: L’hàbitat protohistoric a Catalunya, Rossello i Llenguadoc Occidental. Gérone, 173–184.

Goudineau, Chr., 1998, Regard sur la Gaule, Paris, Errance, 379 p.

Gras, M., 1995, La Méditerranée archaïque, Paris, A. Colin, 192 p.

Janin, Th., 2006, Systèmes chronologiques et groupes culturels dans le midi de la France de la fin de l’âge du Bronze à la fondation de Marseille : communautés indigènes et premières importations, In : Gli Etruschi da Genova ad Ampurias. Pise-Rome, 93–102.

Louis, M., Taffanel, O., 1955, Le premier âge du Fer languedocien, I, Les habitats, Institut d’Etudes Ligures, Bordighera-Montpellier, 207 p. ← 5 | 6 →

Louis, M., Taffanel, O., 1958, Le premier âge du Fer languedocien, II, Les nécropoles à incinération, Institut d’Etudes Ligures, Bordighera-Montpellier, 262 p.

Louis, M., Taffanel, O., 1960, Le premier âge du Fer languedocien, III, Les tumulus, conclusions. Institut d’Etudes Ligures, Bordighera-Montpellier, 423 p.

Marichal, R., Rébé, I., 2003, Les origines de Ruscino (Château-Roussillon, Perpignan, Pyrénées-orientales) du Néolithique au premier âge du Fer, Lattes, 300 p.

Monteil, M., 1999, Nîmes antique et sa proche campagne, Lattes, 528 p.

Py, M., 1990, Culture, économie et sociétés protohistoriques dans la région nimoise, Rome, Ec.Franç., 2 vol., 957 p.

Py, M., dir., 1999, Recherches sur le quatrième siècle avant notre ère à Lattes, Lattara, 12, 680 p.

Roman, Y., 1997, Histoire de la Gaule. VIe siècle av. J.-C.–Ier siècle ap. J.-C, Paris, Fayard, 791 p.

Rouillard, P., 1991, Les Grecs et la Péninsule ibérique du VIIIe au IVe siècle avant Jésus-Christ, Paris, de Boccard, 467 p.

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1.  The Littorals in Southern Gaul: State of the Issue


Research on the natural history of the littorals of Southern Gaul considered in their relation with the archaeological data and more especially for the ancient period benefits from a proven tradition which dates back to the conference organised by Roland Paskoff and Pol Trousset in Les déplacements des lignes de rivages en Méditerranée d’après les données de l’archéologie (1987). Incidentally, it only replaced partially the synthesis of the British geographer Catherine Delano-Smith (1979). In the following years, littoral geomorphology studies saw a remarkable development thanks to the impetus given in Languedoc by the works of Paul Ambert (1987, 1995, 2000, 2001) and, in Provence, by those of Mireille Provansal (1988, 1993, 1999) and of Christophe Morhange (1995, 1998, 2000, 2015), relayed by a new generation of researchers who, in their wake, have worked closely with archaeologists, not only on sites of interest on French littorals, but also on those of the rest of the Mediterranean region. One of them could undoubtedly have produced a statement of the works in progress giving a better overview of the new perspectives opened by these collaborations. But archaeologists are not only passive users of researchers on littoral morphology. They contribute to the development of them by prospections and excavations on a terrestrial environment on aggraded sectors and in a marine environment on sites which were drowned by the rebound of the sea level. For Provence and Languedoc, numerous articles and several books have provided the demonstration of the usefulness of these collaborations. This article intends to review their breakthroughs. ← 7 | 8 →

The Natural Processes: Accumulation and Erosion Dynamics

For a generation, the systematic use of isotopic dating methods permitted by the decrease in costs and the allocation of financing has completely renewed the history of littorals. Room should be left to the works of Ch. Morhange who opened research on the littorals of the Mediterranean region by a systematic use of the bioindicators which happen to be those we can actually date. But the latter are not the only ones and, generally speaking, the knowledge of the evolution of the littorals benefits from all the research procedures developed by environmental geosciences to study anthropisation phenomena. They have ensured the independence of the history of environment with respect to those of societies and removed the exclusivity of written sources. They have upset the theories which had been proposed before from the single archaeological and historical data.


VI, 304
ISBN (Hardcover)
Publication date
2017 (July)
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2017. VI, 304 pp., 55 b/w ill., 3 tables

Biographical notes

Sophie Bouffier (Volume editor) Dominique Garcia (Volume editor)

Sophie Bouffier is Full Professor (Exceptional Class) of Greek History at Aix-Marseille University and Director of the Maison Méditerranéenne des Sciences de l’homme. A former alumna of the Ecole Normale Supérieure de Paris and of Ecole française de Rome, she received her Ph.D. in studies of water management in ancient Greek colonies. More extensively, she is a specialist of Greek colonization in the West Mediterranean area. Dominique Garcia is Full Professor (Exceptional Class) of Archaeology (National Antiquities and European Protohistory) at Aix-Marseille University and President of the Institut National de Recherches Archéologiques Préventives. A member of the Institut Universitaire de France, he is one of the most important French specialists of Celtic Gaul and has published several books, including La Celtique méditerranéenne (2004, 2014).


Title: Greek Marseille and Mediterranean Celtic Region