Provence-Alpes-Côte d’Azur Section
Glanum - Roman ruins - St-Remy-de-Provence
Antic Glanum dedicated to the Celtic God Glanis
Glanum is an antic Greco-Roman city located on the outskirts of Saint-Rémy-de-Provence.
It laid buried in the earth for 17 centuries until its discovery and excavations in 1921.
The Celto-Ligurian Salyens built it between the 4th and 3nd century BC by a spring that surfaces in the cleft of the mountain.
They named their city after Glanis, the god associated with the healing spring.
The Romans turned Glanum into a religious compound after they colonised the region and integrated it to the Roman Empire in 49BC.
Antic Glanum therefore boasts several temples dedicated to Roman gods, as well as sacred wells and fountains dedicated to healing.
The ghosts of Glanum
Glanum is mainly a huge ruined city, and only the twin pillars of the smaller of two temples have been restored.
This temple was important as it was dedicated to the Emperor and his family.
It sat in the center of a peribolos, a vast enclosure delineated on three sides by porticoes.
Stone screens were placed on both ends in order to keep the public out of the inner sacred space.
The section of the city near the healing spring, the sacred area, was enclosed and accessed by a gate.
This is indeed where most of the temples and healing wells and springs associated with Glanis, but also Hercules and Valetudo the Roman goddess of health, stood.
The major landmarks of Glanum are located at its north entrance.
The Mausoleum marked the entry to the necropolis, which was always located outside the city.
The entrance Arch delineated the boundaries of the city from the countryside.
Many vestiges of houses and workshops were also uncovered during the excavations.
Their traditional lay-out is still visible.
They were all built around a courtyard surrounded by rooms and porticoes and centered on a basin.
The bottom of the basin was tiled as it collected rainwater for household use and excess was drained off and stored in a cistern.
The wealthiest inhabitants of Glanum adorned their rooms with antae - pilasters with Corinthian capitals.
Glanum main street was cobbled and a stone-lined conduit ran underneath.
It collected rain and waste water from the surrounding buildings, then carried them away outside the city.
Glanum wine smoking room
Glanum inhabitants were religious, but they also enjoyed the pleasure of life.
And wine was one of them!
Among the many ruins, the archaeologists indeed discovered the vestiges of 'wine smoking rooms'.
The building where they were found was originally part of a healing sanctuary erected in the late 2nd - early 1st century BC, which the Romans later converted for agricultural purposes.
The many amphorae hat were still there suggest that they were used for smoking wine.
Each of the vaulted rooms indeed has a fireplace to allow smoke to circulate freely inside the rooms.
Antic methods for preserving wine
In those times wine became easily infected with bacteria and therefore quickly undrinkable.
People therefore invented several methods to prevent this.
Some added boiled salt, spices, marble dust, pitch or even resin to wine!
That said, these methods were not foolproof, and all the caveat that came with the purchase stipulated that the buyer had 3 days to taste and approve the wine.
If it was still good after 3 days, the buyer had no choice than to keep it, even if it went bad on day 4!
However, once wine soured or developed a bad taste, there were some ways to fix it.
A common method was to heat a roof tile in the fire, coat it with resin and lower it with a string into the amphorae of bad wine.
That said, most people preferred to smoke wine to preserve it.
Artificially smoking wine apparently aged wine in the sealed amphorae and stop bacteria from developping!
Department of Bouches-du-Rhône
Coordinates: Lat 43.774230 - Long 4.832538
Credits: Photos and source text Melanged Magic - Evelyn Jackson - Edited by and for Travel France Online