Narbonne Archaeological Museum | Attraction Guides | History Hit

Narbonne Archaeological Museum

Narbonne, Occitania, France

Luke Tomes

24 Nov 2020
Image Credit: CC / https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b9/Mus%C3%A9e_arch%C3%A9ologique_de_Narbonne_6.JPG

About Narbonne Archaeological Museum

Narbonne Archaeological Museum (Musée Archéologique de Narbonne) in southern France is a museum of this town’s Ancient Roman past, displaying everything from sarcophagi to frescos and furniture.

Narbonne Archaeological Museum history

The finds come from the ancient Roman city of Narbo-Martius, the capital of the Roman province of Gallia Narbonensis.

By the mid-2nd century, the Mediterranean settlements on the coast were threatened by the powerful Gallic tribes to the north, especially the tribes known as the Arverni and the Allobroges. The area became a Roman province in 121 BC, following a great victory of the Roman general Quintus Fabius Maximus (later additionally named Allobrogicus), who had campaigned in the area and defeated the Allobroges and the Arverni under King Bituitus at the Isère River. This defeat substantially weakened the Arverni and ensured the further security of Gallia Narbonensis.

The province had come into Roman control originally under the name Gallia Transalpina (Transalpine Gaul), which distinguished it from Cisalpine Gaul on the near side of the Alps to Rome.

In this strip of land, the Romans founded the town of Narbonne in 118 BC. At the same time, they built the Via Domitia, the first Roman road in Gaul, connecting Gaul to Hispania, and the Via Aquitania, which led toward the Atlantic through Tolosa (Toulouse) and Burdigala (Bordeaux).

Narbonne Archaeological Museum today

The museum contains a collection of Roman statues and inscription tablets from the area as well as sarcophagi decorated in the pagan tradition. Also on display are informative panels describing the history of this ancient Roman city.

The centrepiece of the museum is a collection of more than 1,000 ancient stone relief funerary blocks excavated nearby. Their display forms a natural barrier at the heart of the simple, rectilinear building, separating the public galleries from the more private restoration spaces. Visitors will be able to glimpse the work of the archaeologists and researchers through its mosaic of stone and light, and the flexible display framework allows the reliefs to be easily reconfigured and used as an active tool for learning.

The building incorporates galleries for permanent and temporary exhibitions, a multimedia education centre and library, as well as restoration and storage facilities.

Make sure to buy the local travel pass if you’d like to visit other historical sites in the area, such as the Roman Horreum.

Getting to Narbonne Archaeological Museum

If travelling by car, the A9 links Narbonne to Paris (800km) and Montpellier (100km) and the A61 takes you from Toulouse (150km). You can also take the TGV from Paris and Toulouse or the regional TER Avignon-Cerbères line. By plane, a flight from Montpellier takes 1 hour, and 1 hour 30 minutes from Toulouse Airport. There is parking on site.

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