See You Lattara: The Henri Prades Museum

The Archaeological Site of Lattara and the Henri Prades Museum, Site archéologique Lattara – musée Henri Prades, Lattes, France

South of Montpellier, near the beaches at Pérols, is a little Roman site.  It is not terribly exciting for the average visitor – there are grids of stones, but not much that is visually engaging.  However, it’s been terribly important for archaeologists, who have discovered a great deal of objects which are now in the site’s museum.

Interesting, Lattara is mentioned by Pliny the Elder.  His anecdote is about the fishermen in the area being aided in catching mullet by dolphins.  What he doesn’t mention, but which became evident during excavations in the 1970s, is the fact that Lattara was a major port from the late 6th century, benefitting from Etruscan, Punic and Greek trade. The Roman settlement at Lattara was evidently lively and had the advantage of being placed along the important road, the Via Domitia, which ran along the south of France.  Its success was halted because of rising water levels in the 2nd century AD and that was the end of Lattara.

The museum had one floor closed due to renovations.  I bought a book about the place and subsequently found out that we missed out on a lot.  However, the floor that we did see was very old fashioned, though functional, so presumably they were planning an overhaul that would liven it up.  Having seen a picture of a new space, it looks like they’ve done a good job!

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Dolium, 1st century AD, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France. It was repaired and reused, fixed with little lead staples.

Anyway, as you can tell from these pictures, there isn’t much to say about the collection as I saw it.  They had an awful lot of fragments of pots and the usual archaeological bits and pieces that you come across in smaller museums.  What made it a little different was the fact that they had a few genuinely interesting and unusual objects, particularly from the Celtic world.

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Military marker of Augustus, 3BC, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Statue of a warrior, c500BC, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Statue of a warrior, c500BC, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Wine amphoras, end of 2nd/beginning of 1st century BC, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Shell pattern in shape of a donkey, c100BC, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France. It was found in an ordinary house of Lattara.

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Funerary Monument, end of 1st century BC, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Torso, 1st century AD, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Funerary stele with an anthropomorphic figure, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Epitaph of Lucius Lollius, beginning of 1st century, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Lead sarcophagus, 4th century AD, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Range of epitaphs, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Louk… first syllable of a name, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Stamp on the rim of an Italian amphora Rubriae Car[…], 1st century BC, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Terracotta firedog, 4/3rd century BC, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Decorated hearth, 4th/3rd century BC, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Decorated hearth, 4th/3rd century BC, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Roman glass at the Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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View over the remains of Lattara from the Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

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Epitaph of Labienus Porcianus, 2nd century AD, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France. “To the DM, Quintus Labienus Porcianus of the Voltinia tribe, Quintus Antonius Servatus and Porcia Domitia, daughter of Caius, for their dearest son.”

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Military Marker of Tiberius, 31/32AD, Henri Prades Museum, Lattes, France

So In Summary

It doesn’t feel fair to judge the museum on what we saw.  The exhibition was excellent but the one floor we could visit was dated and quite incoherent.  It was still worth visiting as a Roman fan, but having seen a few pictures of the newly re-vamped space, I have the impression that this small but clearly ambitious museum has somewhat raised its game.

Further Information

There is an entry fee for the museum, which also covers the exhibition.  When I visited, it was on Ships, which was fascinating and incredibly informative, but they seem to have quite a regular turnover of interesting-looking exhibitions as well as regular events.

There is a website (French only): www.museearcheo.montpellier3m.fr

How To Get There

Lattes is a short tram ride away from Montpellier, and is at the end of the line.  It’s very convenient to get to, but you do have a five to ten minute walk to the museum through a quiet, pleasant residential area – ten minutes if it’s a sweltering hot day, as it was when we visited.  For local transport information, check out the local transport site (French only) – the link will take you to a map which shows the lines and bus stops: www.tam.cartographie.pro

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