A century of research and valorization
In the South of France, Ensérune is a unique case of the enhancement of a protohistoric site, with the creation of one of the very first site museums during the 1930s. The exploration of Ensérune began with the discovery, in 1916, of an exceptional group of richly endowed Celtic warriors' tombs, which contributed to its fame. From the 1950s onwards, the site hosted one of the first major training excavations under the aegis of the University of Montpellier. In the 2010's, the site benefits from a new research and development programme, which includes the renovation of the museum. A century of excavation has enabled the constitution of a unique collection for the South of France: Celtic weapons, Greek, Italian and Iberian vases, a corpus of Iberian inscriptions unique in France, a rich medal collection, Celtic and Mediterranean jewellery.
A unique necropolis in Europe
The wealth of furnishings discovered in the 500 or so tombs of the Ensérune necropolis, which date from the second half of the 5th century BC to the end of the 3rd century BC, bears witness to the unique place of the site in the north-western Mediterranean. The treatment of the body is always cremation and all age groups are concerned. Until the beginning of the 4th century BC, tombs without a cinerary vase coexisted with others with an ossuary, which in the majority of cases consisted of an urn or a jug. A significant change in the deposits is observed from the end of the 4th century onwards: the ossuary is now rarely the only vase present in the tomb. The deceased was provided with his personal objects, burnt with him, notably weapons, while the deposits of meat offerings multiplied. The varied funeral offerings bear witness to intense contact with the Iberian, Greek and Celtic worlds.
Ensérune – necropolis – Grave G23
Vase used as an ossuary with corrugated decoration – 400/300 BC © L. Izac - Centre des Monuments Nationaux
Ensérune – Perfume burner depicting Demeter?
Iberian production, terracotta – 300/200 BC © L. Izac - Centre des Monuments Nationaux
Ensérune – necropolis – Grave GR.1
Large bell-shaped crater used as an ossuary, Attic ceramics with red figures and white overpainting. The scene shows Arismiapes fighting against two griffins – 375/350 BC © L. Izac - Centre des Monuments Nationaux
Ensérune - Necropolis - Grave IB.64
Amphora used as an ossuary with white geometric decoration made in the Ullastret region (Catalonia) – 450/350 BC © L. Izac - Centre des Monuments Nationaux
Ensérune - Necropolis - Grave IB.71
Belt buckle made of openwork bronze, made in Ticino (Switzerland) – Around 400 BC © L. Izac - Centre des Monuments Nationaux
Ensérune - Necropolis - Grave IB.128
Molded statuette – Around 350 BC © L. Izac - Centre des Monuments Nationaux