“Catch the Trade Winds in Your Sails. Explore. Dream. Discover”: The Story of a Gallic Town

It is incredible to me to think that France had developed its “wine”culture even as early as the third century B.C. The ancient Lattara settlers’ ability to cultivate grapes, olives, and other vegetation makes me wonder how they stumbled upon the technology or even idea to make wines and oils back then. Did they have the cheese to go along with it too? Did they experiment or was it already a developed concept throughout France that the people of Lattara were able to adapt to their own weather and environmental conditions? All these dietary developments, though seeming not quite so essential to the identifying of a culture or people, is actually important in this case as we see the emergence of what we identify as being very “French” in culture today.

Furthermore on the subject of diet, who knew that dog was not just a delicacy in Asia but also in France?! Through the study of animal fossils in this region, we are able to discover what kind of diet the ancient inhabitants had access to. Theirs in particular clearly emphasized meat and milk consumption, which is interesting because they still remained largely agricultural as a civilization.

Surrounded by water, it is only natural that fishing was an important part of the inhabitants’ diet. The development of port cities like that of Marseille founded in 600 B.C.E (which I find remarkable that it was established that long ago) opened its settlers up to the Mediterranean sea and consequently to trade, exchange of cultures and practices with their neighbors, and with a larger part of the world as they now came into contact with many different people looking to trade. The port cities established at high points would also lend to the development of more structure and organization as these more developed places are constructed. This new notion of detail and planning could then perhaps be reflected in their lifestyle and their society as they began to work as a community and identify themselves based on where they lived having created these towns together. Perhaps it is due to this new connection to the outside world that they established through port cities, that they encountered new technology for the cultivation of wine as well as finding new inspirations and influences in their culture and society based on foreign trade and interesting encounters with other people.

The triangular shape of these fortified towns show a great detail in planning and importance place on security and defense. If such defensive measures were taken in building such strong and walled off cities, the question begs itself:  What could have possibly been seen as such a threat to the inhabitants to form such heavily guarded towns? Though the technology available in some of these towns was not very developed (seeing as their streets also served as their sewage system) it is important to note their resourcefulness in carefully constructing certain areas with particular purposes. For example, the plazas or public spaces were placed near the entrance gates of the town (rather than in the center) so that the cattle pens found there would house animals that would then be free to graze outside the walls of the town and for the inhabitants to fetch quickly outside resources for the community.

The importance that trade had on these port towns developing in southern France can also be seen in the religious rituals that the inhabitants took part in. There is abundant evidence that these settlers worshiped Roman gods.  Through the creation and praising of shrines of gods, in particular, that of Mercury, the god of trade we discover what was important to these “coast-inhabiting” people. Therefore, it is clear that having this access to the sea and consequently to trade with foreign civilizations is highlighted and given a great importance through the creation of these shrines and worship spaces for certain important gods. Finally, regarding religion, communal worship, which is evident through the existence of votive shrines in public ritual spaces, was a clear indicator of a community-oriented people who not only built together, hunted together, farmed together, but also worshipped together.

 

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