The Fate of History

Maquette of the gallo-roman amphitheatre, Roman museum Grand. Photo: TES.

The small village Grand in the Vosges in France was once an important Roman town with one of the biggest Roman amphitheatres in France. The Roman city was built on a limestone plateau as a successor of a Celtic oppidum. Although the place was about 15 kilometers from the main Roman roads and there was no river, the water springs made it an interesting location to settle. The Romans constructed a network of dozens of kilometers of underground galleries and dug more than 300 dwells. The seize of the Gallo-Roman amphitheatre, a monument that could hold 17 000 people, the fortification of the city of around 50 hectares, the basilica, important temples and one of the largest discovered mosaics in the Roman Empire of about 232 m2 show the importance and prosperity of the city.  Grand is a small village of around 500 people nowadays, it must have been around 10 000 two thousand years ago. Still a better fate than Bibracte on Mont Beuvray however, close to Autun in the Bourgogne. This Gallo-Roman town was abandoned by its approximately 5 000 citizens in just a few years after 20 BC to settle in the new Roman city of Autun 20 kilometers away. Bibracte was only rediscovered in the nineteenth century, but made a glorious come back by its archaeological site, museum and research center. Bibracte is, after all, the city where Caesar finished his Gallic Wars (De Bello Gallico) after 52 BC and beat the Helvetic tribes in 58 BC. (further information: and