The location of the oppidum (fortified settlement) of Manching was chosen primarily for commerce. At the juncture of the Paar and Danube rivers, and major overland trade routes, it was also blessed with rich local deposits of iron ore and gold. A massive post-slot wall of stone and timber 4.4 miles (7 km) long protected its landward border; to the south a stream was diverted to create a moat. The earliest construction appears to have been the shrine, and nearby cemetery: the site probably had ritual importance before urbanization. The settlement was founded c. 300 BCE, with a peak population of c. 10,000 two centuries later. Discoveries at the site confirm a vigorous international trade network including Massiliote wine and Baltic amber. Iron was smelted in the surrounding woodland, and the oppidum had its own mint and – it is thought – a livestock market. After Caesar’s conquest of Gaul, Manching declined as was deserted by the time of the Romans’ arrival (c. 15 BCE).
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