Bibracte was the capital of the Aedui tribe and one of the most important hillforts in ancient Gaul.
Bibracte was built on Mont Beuvray which straddles the borders of the French départements of Nièvre (58) and Saône-et-Loire (71) and lies 25 kilometres from the city of Autun in Burgundy.
A few decades after the Roman conquest of Gaul, Bibracte was abandoned in favour of Autun and without a continuous settlement to disturb the site, Bibracte remained for modern archaeology to rediscover.
The first excavations were begun by the wine merchant Gabriel Bulliot between 1867 and 1895. His nephew Joseph Déchelette, author of the famous Manuel d'Archéologie, continued the excavations between 1897 and 1907.
The site is an archaeological park at the centre of a protected forest, and a site of cooperative European archaeological efforts, a training ground for young archaeologists as well as a centre for interpreting Gaulish culture for a popular audience.
Important international excavations have taken place at Mont Beuvray, with teams from the universities of Sheffield, Kiel, Budapest, Vienna and Leipzig.
The Aedui were one of the most powerful tribes in Gaul and before Caesar's time, had attached themselves to the Romans, and were honoured with the title of brothers and kinsmen of the Roman people.
In 63 BC, when the Sequani, their neighbours on the other side of the river Arar, with whom they were continually quarrelling, invaded their territory and subjugated them with the assistance of a Germanic chieftain named Ariovistus, the Aedui sent Diviciacus, the druid, to Rome to appeal to the senate for help.
Although Diviciacus' mission to Rome was unsuccessful, his diplomatic and political skills, along with his friendship with Julius Caesar, marked the beginnings of Rome's military invasion and ultimate conquest of Gaul.
In 58 BC, when the Helvetii began their ill fated march out of their tribal homelands and through the territory of the Aedui, they were defeated 16 miles south of the fort by the armies of Julius Caesar. For helping Rome, Caesar restored the independence of the Aedui.
In spite of this, the Aedui joined the Gallic coalition against Caesar and in 52 BC, Vercingetorix was proclaimed its leader at Bibracte.
After the surrender of Vercingetorix at the battle of Alesia, the Aedui reverted back to their allegiance with Rome.
Diviciacus welcomed the victorious Julius Caesar back to Bibracte and witnessed Caesar complete dictating his masterpiece, The Gallic Wars.
After the death of Julius Caesar, the Emperor Augustus dismantled Bibracte and built a new town 25 kilometres to the east with a half-Roman, half-Gaulish name of Augustodunum, which we know today as the modern city of Autun.