Tuesday, 12 April 2011

Latest excavations in Die

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Archaeologically Die isn't Urr of the Chaldees or Chichen-Itza but it has a very long and respectable pedigree.  Neolithic menhirs dated 4 500 to 4 000 BC were quite recently found during the enlargement of the local wine co-operative.  In 218 BC, Hannibal passed through the territory of the Voconces, the local people who inhabited what is now the Diois.  In about 100 AD Die became the capital of the region taking over from Luc about 20 Km to the south.  The town grew rapidly as the capital of the Voconces.

Die has substantial Roman connections and plenty of archaeological evidence of the long Roman occupation of the area.  The still-impressive Ramparts were built around 307 AD, starting under the Emperor Constantin.  Die continued to make its small but singular impression on history when it became the centre of one of the few Protestant enclaves in a mainly Catholic part of Europe.  Die's Protestantism deeply marked its history and its heritage.

The present extensive excavations around the Cathedral have revealed a pattern of foundations of a variety of dates yet to be disclosed by the archaeologists.  As the photographs below show, there are some interesting, perhaps medieval, columns, pavements and foundations and some heavily carved lintels.  We'll have to wait for the report but it is somehow satisfying to feel that we are a continuation of a long history of human occupation, from time to time quite benevolent.   

6-sided column Capital and section of stone column, with Die's Cathedral in the background on the Place de la Republique.                    

A second, larger stone column section found on the eastern side of the Place de la Republique.

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