Sites & cities that bear the name of Avignon


Today in : France
First trace of activity : ca. 6th century B.C.E
Last trace of activity : today
Recorded names : Аὐενιὼν, Aueniṑn, Άουεννίων, Aouenníōn, Avennĭo Cavărum, Avenio, Avinhon, Avignoun

Description : Avignon (Provençal: Avinhon (Classical norm) or Avignoun (Mistralian norm); Latin: Avenio) is the prefecture of the Vaucluse department in the Provence-Alpes-Côte d'Azur region of Southeastern France. Located on the left bank of the river Rhône, the commune had a population of 93,671 as of the census results of 2017, with about 16,000 (estimate from Avignon's municipal services) living in the ancient town centre enclosed by its medieval ramparts. Between 1309 and 1377, during the Avignon Papacy, seven successive popes resided in Avignon and in 1348 Pope Clement VI bought the town from Joanna I of Naples. Papal control persisted until 1791 when, during the French Revolution, it became part of France. The town is now the capital of the Vaucluse department and one of the few French cities to have preserved its ramparts. The site of Avignon has been occupied since the Neolithic period as shown by excavations at Rocher des Doms and the Balance district. In 1960 and 1961 excavations in the northern part of the Rocher des Doms directed by Sylvain Gagnière uncovered a small anthropomorphic stele (height: 20 cm), which was found in an area of land being reworked. Carved in Burdigalian sandstone, it has the shape of a "tombstone" with its face engraved with a highly stylized human figure with no mouth and whose eyes are marked by small cavities. On the bottom, shifted slightly to the right is a deep indentation with eight radiating lines forming a solar representation - a unique discovery for this type of stele. Compared to other similar solar figures this stele representing the "first Avignonnais" and comes from the time period between the Copper Age and the Early Bronze Age which is called the southern Chalcolithic. This was confirmed by other findings made in this excavation near the large water reservoir on top of the rock where two polished greenstone axes were discovered, a lithic industry characteristic of "shepherds of the plateaux". There were also some Chalcolithic objects for adornment and an abundance of Hallstatt pottery shards which could have been native or imported (Ionian or Phocaean). Antiquity The name of the city dates back to around the 6th century BC. The first citation of Avignon (Aouen(n)ion) was made by Artemidorus of Ephesus. Although his book, The Journey, is lost it is known from the abstract by Marcian of Heraclea and The Ethnics, a dictionary of names of cities by Stephanus of Byzantium based on that book. He said: "The City of Massalia (Marseille), near the Rhone, the ethnic name (name from the inhabitants) is Avenionsios (Avenionensis) according to the local name (in Latin) and Auenionitès according to the Greek expression". This name has two interpretations: "city of violent wind" or, more likely, "lord of the river". The Celtic tribes named it Auoention around the beginning of the Christian Era. Other sources trace its origin to the Gallic mignon ("marshes") and the Celtic definitive article. Avignon was a simple Greek Emporium founded by Phocaeans from Marseille around 539 BC. It was in the 4th century BC that the Massaliotes (people from Marseilles) began to sign treaties of alliance with some cities in the Rhone valley including Avignon and Cavaillon. A century later Avignon was part of the "region of Massaliotes" or "country of Massalia". Fortified on its rock, the city later became and long remained the capital of the Cavares. With the arrival of the Roman legions in 120 BC. the Cavares, allies with the Massaliotes, became Roman. Under the domination of the Roman Empire, Aouenion became Avennio and was now part of Gallia Narbonensis (118 BC.), the first Transalpine province of the Roman Empire. Very little from this period remains (a few fragments of the forum near Rue Molière). It later became part of the 2nd Viennoise. Avignon remained a "federated city" with Marseille until the conquest of Marseille by Trebonius and Decimus Junius Brutus Albinus, Caesar's lieutenants. It became a city of Roman law in 49 BC. It acquired the status of Roman colony in 43 BC. Pomponius Mela placed it among the most flourishing cities of the province. Over the years 121 and 122 the Emperor Hadrian stayed in the Province where he visited Vaison, Orange, Apt, and Avignon. He gave Avignon the status of a Roman colony: "Colonia Julia Hadriana Avenniensis" and its citizens were enrolled in the tribu. Following the passage of Maximian, who was fighting the Bagaudes, the Gallic peasants revolted. The first wooden bridge was built over the Rhone linking Avignon to the right bank. It has been dated by dendrochronology to the year 290. In the 3rd century there was a small Christian community outside the walls around what was to become the Abbey of Saint-Ruf.

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