Honouring the gods in the classical Mediterranean realm and on its fringes


At Gournay-sur-Aronde in Picardie, a first discovery in the seventies brought into light a sanctuary attributable to middle Tène Gauls. Findings at Gournay-sur-Aronde were promptly emulated and by the end of the eighties there were some fifteen such sites - and counting - mostly situated north of the river Seine. It so happens that, between the 4th and 3rd century, Northern Gaul had been settled by new Celtic peoples[1], the Belgae. Against this new political background, autonomous cult sites were created as places designed solely for the practice of worship. They were not extensions to housing or burial grounds, they were sanctuaries[2]. They were the divinity's realm, his or her property as much as representation. However, the Gauls did not create craven images of their gods and no god's statue is to be found prior to Roman domination. The divinity's material reality must therefore be manifest through other means that would permit the contact between men and gods.

Map of Northern Gaul © SA, CERHIO

Thanks to the last thirty years' discoveries, we have information on the architecture, sacred demarcation, building plans, materials used; thus it is becoming possible to grasp what may have taken place in these sanctuaries. Likewise, thanks to animal remains, we can know the way they were sacrificed. We shall study two examples: the sanctuary of Gournay-sur-Aronde and the monumental trophy at Ribemont-sur-Ancre.

  1. Celtic peoples

    Between the 3rd and 1st centuries BC, there was no Gaulish political unity. The Gauls' territory was split between different peoples. The Belgae themselves consisted of diverse sub-groups, so that around Gournay-sur-Aronde can be found Ambiani, Viromandui and Suessiones. Those peoples had their own political structures and formed small independent states, comparable to Greek cities.

  2. Sanctuary

    A site chosen and developed for the purpose of a regular religious activity vital to the proper exercise of religious practice. The sanctuary stood as a place detached from the world.

AccueilAccueilImprimerImprimer Overall coordination by Dominique Avon, Professor at the Université du Maine (France) Paternité - Pas d'Utilisation Commerciale - Pas de ModificationRéalisé avec Scenari (nouvelle fenêtre)