History of Avignon: Antiquity

Since High Antiquity, the indigenous people had contact with the Mediterranean civilizations. The Rhone constitutes a principal commercial route for the Greek and Phoceans sailors and Etruscan merchants. It is dotted with "oppida", fortified sites serving as storehouses and trading posts, and assuring surveillance of river traffic.

Following 500BC, the city extended considerably around the oppidum built on the cliff. The city was occupied by a celto-ligurian people - the Cavares.

The Phoceans founded Massilia (Marseille) towards the 6th century B.C.. During the 4th century, the Greek colony contracted commercial agreements with the Cavares cities of Avignon and Cavaillon. These cities thus profited from The Marseille influence which extended throughout Southeast France.

The city's name originated from this era, "Aouen(n)ion", a name of Cavares origin, which has two interpretations : "City of violent wind," or "Lord of the River", according to either Celtic or Ligurian traduction. It seems, nonetheless, that the latter interpretation is more likely.

Mornas Fortress overlooking the Rhone Valley

Etruscan funerary urn - Lapidaire Museum Avignon

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