LATTARA: the ancient and Medieval harbour of Lattes
D. Garcia et L. Vallet, eds., (2002), L’espace portuaire de Lattes antique, Lattara, 15, Mélanges d’histoire et d’archéologie de Lattes, Edition de l’Association pour le Développement de l’Archéologie en Languedoc-Roussillon, Lattes, 223 p.
- 1 P. Blanchemanche concludes this excellent and very rich volume. Treating Medieval harbours, from th (...)
- 2 Arnal J., Majurel R., Prades H., (1974), Le port de Lattara (Lattes, Hérault), Bordighera-Montpelli (...)
1The LATTARA series1, named after the ancient town, publishes work on the archaeological site of Latte and its harbour environment. Subjects discussed range from past research to recent multidisciplinary excavations. Over three decades ago, Arnal et al. (1974) published «Le port de Lattara (Lattes, Hérault)»2 a work which summarised the discoveries made in and around Latte. The term «harbour» was taken in the largest sense of the word, that is to say a maritime city with strong links to the sea. Just a few pages dealt with the harbour structures themselves. The current volume of LATTARA deals with Lattes’ harbour in a different manner, and takes into consideration structures unearthed during recent excavations. Located on the fringes of an ancient lagoon and at the mouth of a small river, Lattes is an excellent representative example of port implantation and growth. Two research themes have been developed and structure the publication.
2The first section investigates harbour structures in Languedoc. In this respect, the site at Lattes holds strong research potential. The significance of imports revealed during excavations (notably Etruscan, Greek and Italic amphoras) and the interface role of the site attest to the magnitude of maritime traffic during the site’s occupation. The archaeologists deliberately adopted paradoxical excavation techniques for the harbour terrace, without consideration for the basins located beneath the water table. The first part of the volume, covering 150 pages, reunites a number of papers on the topography, architecture and stratigraphy of the vestiges, dated between the 2nd century BC and the 3rd century AD.
3The second part of the volume (ca. 50 pages) discusses palaeoenvironments and their evolution during the Holocene. Understanding of the relationships between one or more branches of the river Lez, the lagoon and the harbour is imperative to comprehending the pattern of settlement. C. Jorda reviews the stratigraphic and geomorphological evidence at various temporal and spatial scales. Stratigraphic analyses using bore-holes have identified the lagoon edge. M. Sternberg, interested in the site’s ancient fishing industry, proposes a geography of the production and consumer spaces in antiquity. At Lattes, the decision to exploit the sea’s resources came from a rise in demand for maritime products during the 1st and 2nd centuries AD.
1 P. Blanchemanche concludes this excellent and very rich volume. Treating Medieval harbours, from the use and exploitation of the river Lez, he shows how new situations arise and how populations adapt. Lattara 15 is a superb reference for those interested in ancient harbours.
2 Arnal J., Majurel R., Prades H., (1974), Le port de Lattara (Lattes, Hérault), Bordighera-Montpellier, Institut International d’Etudes Ligures, 342 p.Top of page
Nick Marriner, « LATTARA: the ancient and Medieval harbour of Lattes », Méditerranée [Online], 104 | 2005, Online since 27 January 2009, connection on 29 April 2017. URL : http://mediterranee.revues.org/1822Top of page
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