Bibracte was declared by Caesar in his Commentaries on the Gallic Wars to be the largest and richest of the Aeduan towns. At that time (60-50 BC), the Aedui served as trading intermediaries between the Mediterranean and Northern Europe. The Aedui minted their own coins between the 3rd century BC and 50 BC. At first using gold currency, by 120 BC they had created a silver coinage aligned with the Roman denarius. Later in the Gallic Wars, the Aedui renounced their long-term allegiance to Rome. At this point, in 52 BC, Bibracte hosted the election of Vercingetorix, an Arverni nobleman, as leader of the combined Gallic armies. This Gallic resistance was eventually defeated by Caesar at the battle of Alésia. In 52-51 BC, just after the final battle with Vercingetorix, Caesar wintered at Bibracte and wrote the first volumes of his Commentaries.
[Fig.1: Plan of Bibracte (Musée de la Civilization Celtique, Bibracte).]
By its peak in the 1st century BC, Bibracte encompassed about 330 acres within a 5 km long rampart. This well-fortified site was typical in its organization of many other Celtic oppida throughout Europe. After most of the population was moved to Autun, a fair continued to be held in honor of the goddess Bibracte, and horse-corrals and tradesmen's booths from the later, Roman period have been found. The re-use of a Gallo-Roman temple as a Christian oratory and still later a Franciscan convent bear witness to the long-term importance of the site.
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