The mystery of Entremont cut off heads

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The heads, Granet museum - ©Michel wal / CC-BY-SA The heads, Granet museum - ©Michel wal / CC-BY-SA
Entremont fortress in Aix-en-Provence Gallo-Roman

An oppidum

On this vast hill overlooking Aix city, the Salyens, a Celto-Ligurian people, raised their fortress (oppidum in Latin) and made of Entremont the capital city of their territory.

They were bearded, hairy, boorish, whoa! Never come across a Salyens! Barbarian, violent, bloodthirsty, they took a very bad habit: to bring back souvenirs from the war. Souvenirs with a pretty nasty taste: their enemies' chopped off heads, honestly!

Entremont's chopped off heads

Defended by two huge wall about 400 metres long, we still can see the lower and the upper city. The first one, made for the people, was composed of simple houses. The second one, for the richest one, was made of regular houses and rectilinear streets.

Between those two districts was a portico where Salyens hang... their enemies' heads! They made statues of those heads: 43 centimetres high and 32 large, made of white and soft stone. They're neckless, cut level with the chin! What was the purpose of these scary heads? Celts needed their power to fight.

And they found it in their enemies' skulls, even if they were simple stony effigy. Oh, Celts kept real heads at home, took in the battle fields! Yes, embalmed in cedar oil and displayed in a box, they proudly shown them to their guests!

But our Salyens friends were considered as a threat, so Romans expelled them in -123 BC. Their fortress was destroyed. In -122 BC, the city of Aquae Sextiae (current Aix) was founded bottom of Entremont hill... What about our heads? You can see them in Granet museum!


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