Bibracte: On the trail of Caesar and Vercingetorix

Since 2006, the research teams of the Department of Archaeology and Museology (DAM), inclusive of students, participate in research on one of the largest and best explored French oppida – Bibracte.

Bibracte – the main economic, political and religious centre of the Haedui – one of the most powerful Celtic tribes at the time of the Gallic Wars. Bibracte extends on an area of 200 ha on the top of Mont Beuvray in Burgundy. The oppidum (fortified town) is a unique source of knowledge about La Tène (Celtic) civilisation of the 2nd and 1st centuries BC and it played an important role during the Gallic War (58 – 50 BC). In 52 BC, the Celtic chieftain Vercingetorix united here Celtic tribes in a revolt against Roman forces – and at the end of the same year, his defeater Gaius Iulius Caesar finished here a part of his book Commentaries on the Gallic War.

The first excavations at this site were already held in the 19th century, modern research continued here in 1984. The team of Masaryk University uses archaeological and geophysical methods to solve the questions connected with urbanism, organisation and structure of build-up on this important locality. Within the scope of an international Czech-Polish-French team we mainly participate in research on a craft district in immediate neighbourhood of the main road passing through the oppidum. Archaeological and geophysical survey conducted by the DAM team recently yielded a great deal of important knowledge about urbanism, organisation and structure of build-up on this important locality.

Since 2011, the archaeological geophysical survey team also is involved in research within the cooperation with the European Archaeological Centre of Mont Beuvray. The team provides for the best possible exploration of individual zones of the oppidum and its hinterland, which is inevitable for planning future excavations. Thanks to this unique prospecting survey, excavation procedures and phases are planned in accordance with expected find context, adequate sampling procedures and methods are prepared, and a conservation team for the rescue of special types of finds also is ready for action. Among examples of such approach is the excavation of several wooden houses or identification of the system of roads and buildings in the oppidum.

The students are using the facilities of a modern international scientific centre with laboratories and library.

An ideal example of good research practice applied to Roman architecture at Bibracte is represented by the villa PC2. A comparison between the results of magnetometric (1, B) and GPR (C, D) survey.

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