Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Not shying away from the past

Shadow of shackles prominently displayed in Musee d’Aquitaine

The collection housed in Bordeaux’s Musee d’Aquitaine covers a broad swath of the history of the region’s past 500,000 years.

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Postcard from Bordeaux, France: Another place Romans trod

Above, detail of a mosaic floor from Roman times uncovered in a house in the historic center of Bordeaux, Musee d’Aquitaine

In an effort to boost his power within the Triumvirate ruling Rome, Gaius Julius Caesar (100 to 44 BC) tucked Gaul under his balteus amongst his growing collection of conquered lands in 56 BC. Burdigalia, later known as Bordeaux, soon emerged as a favored city in the territory called Gallia Aquitania. Grapes assisted immensely: To keep the Roman army in conquering mode, soldiers required copious amounts of wine to wash down their spelt and farro.

The city’s most prominent landmark from the days of Roman occupation is the remains of an amphitheater, Le Palais Gallien. It is thought the once-enormous venue was built to accommodate the multitudes, more than 17,000 spectators, summoned to celebrate a visit from Emperor Lucius Septimius Bassianus, self-ordained as Marcus Aurelius Antoninus (188-217) and better known as Caracalla.

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