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European Kingdoms

Western Europe


Antipolis / Antibes (Greek Colony)

The identity of the Greeks was wrought during the Near East's climate-induced political upheavals of the thirteenth and twelfth centuries BC. Originally Mycenaeans, the descendants of the dominant Indo-European group on the Greek territories to the immediate south of the Balkans, they were formed during the upheavals through a mixture of surviving Mycenaean dominance in Athens, Dorian and Aeolian-induced blending in the majority of mainland territories, and Pelasgian inheritance from pre-Indo-European times.

Once a full recovery was underway in the eighth and seventh centuries BC, the Greek city states were able to trade with the Phoenicians, and with Syria as a whole, with papyrus being imported from there and locations being used in stories about the Greek gods. The Greeks also imported the Phoenician alphabet and eastern artistic influences, and were firmly a part of the trade system of the region. Each city state was self-governed, or looked to one of its larger neighbours for support and alliances.

Together they created a trading empire which eventually stretched across the Mediterranean. As they expanded they founded seasonal trading posts along the sea's northern and southern shores. Many of these posts gradually developed into colonies, usually becoming self-governing and often regionally powerful.

The European colony of Massalia on what today is the south coast of France was one of the most important of those colonies. Founded about 600 BC by Phocaeans, iIt was the Massalians who established a minor settlement at Antipolis (today's Antibes). This was located on the opposite side of the Var estuary from the colony of Nikaia (Nice), with the name itself meaning 'opposite city'. Since Nikaia was founded around 350 BC, Antipolis must have been founded after this date.

Its general territory covered ground between the rivers Siagne and Le Loup (in today's Alpes-Maritimes department). Seemingly never big in its early years it may have provided a home for a melange of regional groups, including Ligurians and perhaps Etruscans too. It is unclear whether it was the town's citizens themselves or the nearby Ligurian people who formed the related group known as Antipolitani, but this group existed by the second century BC. The colony was under constant threat of attack by the Celto-Ligurian tribes of the western Alps until that time.

Ancient Greek frieze

(Information by Trish Wilson, with additional information by Peter Kessler, from the Dictionary of Greek and Roman Geography, William Smith, from Celts and the Classical World, David Rankin, from The History of Rome, Volume 1, Titus Livius (translated by Rev Canon Roberts), from Les peuples préromains du Sud-Est de la Gaule: Étude de géographie historique, Guy Barruol (De Boccard, 1999), from Encyclopaedia Britannica (Eleventh Edition, Cambridge (England), 1910), from Encyclopaedia of the Roman Empire, Matthew Bunson (1994), and from External Links: Geography, Strabo (H C Hamilton & W Falconer, London, 1903, Perseus Online Edition), and The Natural History, Pliny the Elder (John Bostock, Ed), and The Works of Julius Caesar: Gallic Wars, and L'Arbre Celtique (The Celtic Tree, in French), and Historisches Lexikon der Schweiz or Dictionnaire Historique de la Suisse or Dizionario Storico dell Svizzera (in German, French, and Italian respectively).)

c.300 - 200 BC

People from the Greek colony of Massalia establish a minor settlement at Antipolis (today's Antibes in southern France). The settlement is located on the opposite side of the Var estuary from the colony of Nikaia (Nice), with the name itself meaning 'opposite city'. Since Nikaia is founded around 350 BC, Antipolis must be founded after this date (but well before the mid-second century BC).

Map of Alpine and Ligurian tribes, c.200-15 BC
The origins of the Euganei, Ligurians, Raeti, Veneti, and Vindelici are confused and unclear, but in the last half of the first millennium BC they were gradually being Celticised or were combining multiple influences to create hybrid tribes (click or tap on map to view full sized)

155 - 154 BC

The Hellenic city of Massalia, with its ties of friendship with Rome since the Second Punic War, appeals for aid against the Ligurian Oxybii tribe which controls the Argens valley, and also by the Decietae. The tribes are defeated by Roman Consul Quintus Opimius.

The Massalian outpost of Antipolis (today's Antibes) and its Antipolitani people have constantly been threatened by the Celto-Ligurian tribes of the western Alps. It is only after this defeat of the local tribes and the confiscation of their lands that Antipolis becomes stable and prosperous. The tribal lands are probably handed to Antipolis to administer directly.

49 BC

With the Albici confederation constantly descending to the coast to help the beleaguered in Massalia, Julius Caesar now deals with this dual problem once and for all. He even goes so far as to build a new town in the heart of Albici territory. The threat from the confederation's three tribes - Albineses, Vordesnes, and Vulgientes - is ended.

Antibes in France
The city of Antipolis (Antibes) in the south of France is nestled between Cannes and Nice, with its origins dating to between about 300-200 BC as a sub-colony of a larger colony - Massalia (Marseilles)

As for the beleaguered Massalia itself, its siege ends when it fully submits to Roman control. The Romans detach the establishment of Antipolis from its metropolis, and grant it the status of Roman civitas (according to both Pliny and Strabo). Having become independent, the Antipolitans begin to mint their own coinage.

Some of those issues are known to bear on the reverse the name of the small city which is abbreviated as ΑΝΤΙ ΛΕΠ (or ΛΕΠΙ). This last abbreviation is more than interesting since it seems to be able to be developed into ΑΝΤΙ(ΠΟΛΕΩC) ΛΕΠ(ΙΔΟΥ), or 'Antipolis Lepida', suggesting that the small city is elevated to the rank of Latin colony when Marcus Aemilius Lepidus governs Transalpine Gaul (44-42 BC).

c.27 BC

Sometime around the point at which Gallia Transalpina becomes Gallia Narbonensis, the city of Antipolis is cited, immediately after the mention of the oppidum Latinum Antipolis, and the 'regio Deciatium', the 'region of the Decietae'.

La Turbie and the Trophy of Augustus
The Tropaeum Alpium ('Trophy of the Alps') stands majestically in the commune of La Turbie on the French Riviera, overlooking the principality of Monaco, and marking the final victory over the Alpine tribes by Augustus

This suggests that the Deciatae had not previously been elevated to the same rank as the Antipolitans but had instead been subjugated under Antipolitan rule. The full integration of the Deciates into the city of the Antipolitans does indeed take place between the end of the first century BC and the first century AD given that, in the second century AD, Ptolemy cites Antipolis as the metropolis of the Deciates.

By this time the two territories must have been amalgamated. Also by this time all Ligurians and Celto-Ligurians and even the descendants of Greek colonists have been subsumed by Roman (Latin) culture and language.

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