STORY. Do you know this mysterious monument perched on the heights of Vence?

It is certain that man already inhabited the site more than 50,000 years ago. Nevertheless, the astonishing monument which sits on the Puy de Tourrettes, one of the summits of the chain of hills which dominate Vence, remains a mystery. Indeed, several centuries after its construction, no one seems able to identify its use.

According to the suppositions of Paul Clément, historian of the Vence country, it could be the tomb of a tribal chief… But which one? Moreover, this is only a guess because, as the Archeology department of the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis points out: “The story is beautiful and opens the imagination. But if there are indeed a few monuments on this site, nothing has been scientifically proven, neither for the dating, nor for the destination…” So the question remains open.

A funerary structure?

The potential “tomb of the tribal chief” occupies a total area of ​​6.50m by 4.75m. It is located on the southern slope of the Puy de Tourrettes at about 1,200 meters above sea level. Today, only an isolated tree can locate it. The tomb is oriented east-west so that its opening receives the first rays of the rising sun.

“Its builders probably have it oriented so that its occupant can benefit from the life-providing light and solar heat”continues the historian.

The rather monumental construction was erected to be seen from afar and to inspire respect. Perhaps it is the tomb of an important person, a tribal leader or a priest?
Photo Institute of Prehistory and Archeology Excavations of the Alpes-Maritimes.

The exterior dimensions of what appears to be the burial chamber are 4.50m by 0.80m, its interior dimensions 4m by 0.70m on average. The interior width of the bottom (0.84m) is greater than that of the entrance (0.55m). The summit flat stone is 3m long, 80cm wide and 25cm thick. It must weigh a good quintal and could only have been moved and lifted by a group of men working together. This limestone slab was taken from one of the nearby strata freed from the ground by erosion, and the blocks which were used to erect the walls are placed quite roughly on top of each other, without the use of cement.

“This archaic building technique certainly predates Roman times.continues Paul Clément. Although the absence of furniture makes the dating difficult, it would nevertheless seem that the burial can be attributed to the Ligurian tribes who populated the high parts of the region and built a number of camps and castellaras there, according to the same construction process..

For a big man?

At a time when among the Ligurians there was no possibility of preserving history by text or image, this burial could serve as a permanent message. By remaining circumspect, Paul Clément likes to imagine: “This tomb could be a high mausoleum for a respected man. It was to indicate to the inhabitants of the region, or to travelers, that the mortal remains of the deceased whose name everyone knew was deposited there, in this precise place, but may his memory, his “aura” remain imperishable and present in all minds”.

Near the dolmen called “the Tomb of the Ancestor”, shards of flint and an arrowhead found allowed to date it to the Chalcolithic (copper age). Photo Institute of Prehistory and Archeology Excavations of the Alpes-Maritimes.

Perhaps all those who passed near the tomb or who saw it from afar should have a thought for the disappeared and could only wonder about their own destiny and their own end? So for whom, for what and when was this construction built? Perhaps, for the many visitors to the site, some specialists could look into the matter?


Sources: thanks to Paul Clément (site www.archeo-vence-grasse.com/) and to the Archeology department of the Nice Côte d’Azur Metropolis.

The “tomb of the ancestor” in Tourrettes-sur-Loup

Not far from this so-called tomb, there is another funerary site which has caused fear to the inhabitants. It was in Tourrettes-sur-Loup, in the Courmettes district, that in 1973, an amateur of archeology spotted a standing stone, a sort of menhir 2m high. The study of the places was to lead to the surprising discovery of a real protohistoric complex where stands, at the top of a hill, a large castellaras. Shepherds and hunters, who have always known of the existence of these walls drawing three interlocking circles, gave it the strange name of “Tomb of the Ancestor” because of an incident which occurred in 1950, when a farmer discovered a sarcophagus. He then said: . They were so impressed that they did not divulge the affair and remain convinced that they saw not the body of the deceased, but his spirit. Another legend?

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STORY. Do you know this mysterious monument perched on the heights of Vence?


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