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The History of the Languedoc:   Greeks and Phoenicians

In the Seventh century BC the Etruscans, masters of the Mediterranean Sea, established trading links with the Languedoc.

Great amphorae and ceramic potery known as "buccero nero" are known from this period, and traces of the Etruscans have been found at Bessan, Substanton (Catelnau-le-Lez) and the port of Lattes.

In the following century, Greeks from Phocius (Phocée) are known to have traded with the Languedoc. They founded Massalia, (modern Marsielle) and then Agatha (modern Agde), both trading ports. They tended to keep to the littoral, but Greek coins and pottery, including amphorae from this period is known as far inland as Gaudevan.

It was the Greeks who introduced viniculture to the Languedoc, so vines have been cultivated here for two and a half milennia. Even in Greek times wine was exported to to Gaul and Italy, while drinking vessels were imported to the Languedoc.

The Languedoc also provided a trading gateway, for example giving the Greeks access to tin from the Aquitaine.

Another characteristic feature of this period is the oppidum, a hill-top town, similar to later bastides. These towns were defensible and provided panoramic views of land and sea. Examples may be seen at Enserune (Hérault département), Béziers, Carcassonne, Le Cluzel (near Toulouse), and the mont Cavalier at Nîmes. Around this time a few villages grew into sizeable towns, with extensive use of dry stone walls.

Around the fifth century the Celts arrived and settled in the Languedoc.




The Ephebe of Agde (L'ehpebe d'Agde), a bronze statue, 1.4 m tall, dates from the second century BC was discovered in the Heralt River in 1964. Ephebos (often in the plural epheboi), also anglicised as ephebe (plural: ephebi), is a Greek word for an adolescent age group or those belonginging to a social status reserved for that age in Antiquity.

Though the word can refer to the adolescent age of young men of training age, its main use is for the members, exclusively from that age group, of an official institution (ephebia) that saw to building them into citizens, training them as soldiers, sometimes already sent into the field; the Greek city state (polis) mainly depended, as the Roman republic before Marius's reform, on its militia of citizens for defence.




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