Mont Lassois

On the emergence and structure of Early Celtic chieftain residences on Mont Lassois near Vix in Bourgogne.

MontLassois-Magnetik.pngFor the past 50 years the french and international research on the Iron Age has been convinced of the existence of a significant chieftain residence on and around Mont Lassois. Mont Lassois near Vix in Bourgogne is ascribed to the Early Celtic chieftain residences of the Late Hallstatt culture. The rich graves, especially the chieftain grave, a shrine with life-sized stone statues in the Italian style and particularly the excavations (since 2002) attest to a complex centre with an urban quality.

Mont Lassois lies at the upper reaches of the Seine, close to the small town of Chatillon-sur-Seine in the Burgundian Dép. Côte d’Or. It belongs to the district of the small Seine-village of Vix. Situated as an outlier within a widening of the Seine valley, it is a dominant feature of the landscape. The morphology of the massif is characterized by two plateaus situated at different heights with very to moderately steep slopes; in the South lies the Mont Roussilon plateau with its parish church Marcel des Ortes Vix, in the North lies the Mont Saint-Marcel plateau. To the Southeast of Mont Lassois, in an area of 42 ha, there lies the large Late Bronze, Hallstatt and Late Latène Age necropolis in which the chieftain burial of Vix and the shrine of “Les Herbues”, excavated in 1953, are located.

In accordance with the PCR „Le Mont Lassois et son environnement“ which began in 2001 and the SPP excavations in collaboration with French and Austrian colleagues were carried out in order to ascertain the emergence and structure of the chieftain residence. The geomagnetic survey done by Dr. Harald von der Osten (Stuttgart) gave impressive insights into the internal structure of the plateau. This includes the numerous post constructions and the enclosures (enclos) whose ages were, thanks to excavations, placed into the Late Iron Age.

MontLassois-Haus.pngIn particular, the excavations and evaluations of the still unique apsidal building not only attestes for the varied and differentiated processes of the material and symbolic adaption and interpretation between the Mediterranean and Hallstatt societies to be assessed in the light of autochthonal structures.

But also showed that a plausible schemata of cultural transfer has to be differentiated from functional interpretation (specifically the apsidal building e.g. as a cultural centre). Terms like “cheiftain residence” will have to be examined under the aspect of structural identity as well as local solutions. In the light of early centralisation and urbanisation processes, Mt. Lassois plays a prominent role, so much so that it will still be in the limelight of future research.

Reading suggestions:

  • A. Mötsch/A. Haffner/U. Müller, Zu den Ausgrabungen des Kieler Instituts für Ur- und Frühgeschichte am Mont Lassois 2004-2006. In: D. Krausse (Hrsg.), Frühe Zentralisierungs- und Urbanisierungsprozesse. Zur Genese und Entwicklung frühkeltischer Fürstensitze und ihres territorialen Umlandes. Kolloquium des DFG-Schwerpunktprogramms 1171, Blaubeuren, 9.-11. Oktober 2006. Forsch. u. Ber. zur Vor- u. Frühgesch. Baden-Württemberg 101 (Stuttgart 2008) 9-26.
  • B. Chaume/C. Mordant (Hrsg.), Le complexe aristocratique de Vix: nouvelles recherches sur l’habitat, le système de fortification et l’environnement du mont Lassois. Arts, archéologie & patrimoine (Dijon 2011).

Contact: Frau Dr. Angelika Mötsch M.A. | Further information can be found here hier