This year I have published the results of four research projects looking at the ancient cartographic skills of landscape measuring specialists in 15th century Peru, 11th century Norway , 9th century Cambodia and 1st century Bolivia. This story, however, begins in the Côte-d’Or department of the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region, about 17 km southeast of Montbard and 50 km northwest of Dijon, eastern France.
Mont Auxois at the heights of Alise-Sainte-Reine is traditionally believed to have been the location of the Gallic Oppidum of Alesia, a vast fortified hilltop settlement that served as the tribal centre of the so called Mandubii people. In 52 BCE, the ‘Battle of Alesia’ saw 80,000 Celtic warriors led by Vercingetorix defeated by an army of around 45,000 Roman soldiers spearheaded by Julius Caesar” bringing Gallic independence from Rome to and end.
Even though trenches, battlements, shields, human bones and other artifacts of war have been discovered at Alise-Sainte-Reine, many archaeologists have argued that this location does not fit Caesar's description of the battle and that this site is much too small. Many alternative locations have been proposed and as as recently as 2012 a BBC article titled ‘France's Ancient Alesia Dispute Rumbles On ‘ announced the discovery of new evidence suggesting that the battle was fought “30 miles away, near Geneva” and archaeologists believe excavations at Chaux-des-Crotenay in the Jura mountains have unveiled “a complete system of Roman fortifications fitting Caesar's description of the battlefield. “
Alphonse Voisin-Delacroix (1807 - 1878) was a French architect and archeologist who in 1837 became the Architect of Besançon and founded the Antiquities Museum and built part of the Archaeological Museum. In the 1950s Delacroix was the archaeologist who identified the Oppodium of Alesia at Alise-Sainte-Reine but in his 1864 speech of acceptance at the Academy of Besançon he had changed his mind and said: “The similarities between Alais and Alise are ‘remarkable, many, even disturbing’: location, proximity to a river, shaped hills… dedicated to Rhea.’” This cemented the suspicions of many archaeologists at the time who refuted the accepted location of the 52 BCE battle and teams of cartographers and archaeologists surveyed the landscapes around a village located some 170 miles to the southwest with a similarly spelled name, “Alaise” situated on a hilltop in the foothills of the Jura mountains, in the Doubs department in the Bourgogne-Franche-Comté region in eastern France.
Many academic and amateur archeologists committed their entire lives to proving the battle unfolded around Alaise, which today is part of the Éternoz commune and houses less than 40 people. This tiny hilltop village has a heritage stretching back thousands of years, evident in the remains of an Iron Age tumuli, the ‘Rempart lieu-dit le Châtaillon à Alaise’, Gallo-Roman remains and a 14th century church.
THE mystery of alaise
One man who dedicated his life to understanding the deeper history of the Alaisian landscapes was Marie Louis Georges Colomb (1856 -1945) a French science popularizer, botanist, cartoonist, one time teacher of the famous French writer Marcel Proust and archaeologist. Colomb wrote extensively on the war of the Gauls and firmly believed Alaise in the Franche-Comté was where the 52 BCE battle was fought, an idea that was supported by many leading scholars, soldiers and historians until his death in 1945. In the 1920s, Colomb’s comparisons of Alesia and Cesar’s account of the battle were published over 13 editions of L'Enigme d'Alésia : solution proposée d'après le Livre VII des "Commentaires" de César and after he died, an earlier 1898 entry in his research notebook was found to read, "They found in Alaise traces of major incidents of a gigantic blockade.” Both researchers, Delacroix and Colomb, died believing the tiny village of Alaise was at the centre of the 52 BCE battle.
living at the same time as Colomb, Xavier Guichard (1870 - 1947) was a French Director of Police, writer and archeologist who spent over two decades exploring and mapping the landscapes surrounding Alaise. But while archaeologists Delacroix and Colomb had discovered reason to believe the 52 BCE battle had been fought around Alaise, Guichard claimed to have unearthed evidence that prehistoric people in the region had exhibited “a great level of geometric, topographic and cartographic measuring abilities.”
In 1936 Guichard published his book Eleuse Alaise: Investigation of the origins of European Civilization, in which he presented a series of long distance straight alignments which he termed “salt lines,” dotted with ancient tumuli, monuments, villages, towns and cities. Guichard believed that Bronze Age people had created and used the 360-degree circle and with it they had measured out “prehistoric rose des vents”which were circles composed of 24 long distance straight alignments emanating from a center point, Mont Poupet, (beside Aleisa) outwards across Greece and northern Europe.
According to Guichard, Mont Poupet and the village of Alaise were “druidic” centers of worship “located at the centre of an archaic, yet very precisely surveyed, radial system of 24 ley lines which emanated from Alaise, in all directions, one line every 15 degrees of 360.” He also noted that the alignments seemed to have a propensity of ancient settlements “named with etymological affinity to the town-name Alaise” and he presented detailed maps of each alignment highlighting the historic sites he found to fall on them (left). The ancient people who installed this matrix of alignments, according to Guichard, created a prime meridian that he believed ran less than 300 meters east of the village of Myon, between Alaise and Mont Poupet (right).
While Guichard’s system of alignments appealed to Spiritualists and those of a mystical nature, the academic community greatly rejected his hypothesis. It appears that having initially found a few genuine ancient salt routes, long distance tracks which often followed straight lines between trading centers, Guichard’s creative imagination went into overdrive and he claimed he had discovered “the vestiges of the Greek Eleusian mysteries” the most famous of the secret religious rites of ancient Greece. Convinced that ancient Eleusian initiates had mapped the globe in antiquity Guichard presented maps with “solid evidence of an underlying geometric structure between prominent prehistoric locations across the western world.” To Guichard, it was no coincidence that Alaise in France was located at 47° 00' N. 5° 58' East and Eleusis in Greece at 38° 00’ N, 18° 00’ East, both pre historic spiritual centers separated by exactly by 9° Latitude and 6° Longitude.
Guichard’s non-scientific excursion into the ancient Eleusian mysteries attempted to prove that Ancient Greek geometers and navigators had established hundreds of temples all over the globe, on the intersections of a geometrically perfect grid, all prefixed with words sounding like “Alai”. This is akin to holding an academic shotgun down one’s throat and most historians and archaeologists at the time, and still today, disregard the ‘entirety’ of Guichard’s findings. However, to do so, is as wholly unbalanced as it would be to accept ‘all’ of his findings without first having checked them for one’s self.
Adhering to this principal I took the time to plot several of Guichard’s 24 alignments on Google maps in an attempt to separate any genuine Neolithic, Iron Age, Roman, Merovingian, or medieval Christian landscape alignments which might lie buried within the illusionary lines and correspondences generated by Guichard’s imagination.
MESSAGE OF THE busts
The first step in this cartographic project was to plot Alaise church on Google maps, which resulted in a remarkable observation marking the beginning of a hitherto locked mystery. In front of Alaise churchyard’s north wall is a solitary sandstone monument topped with a bronze bust, the only one in the village, none other than architect and archeologist Alphonse Delacroix. At this remote hilltop village church in 1878, Delacroix’s grandson accompanied by “departmental authorities, academics, architects, emulation and clergy,” attended a ceremony at which the opening speech was delivered by the historian and archaeologist Auguste Castan, who like Delacroix took part in the controversy over the location of the Battle of Alesia.
Step two was to yield a result no less mysterious than the first, but much more curious and spellbinding. Plotting the closest church to Alaise, a pin was dropped on Myon, another isolated hilltop village less than a mile and a half to the north west of Alaise. Would you believe that after the 1945 death of Georges Colomb’s, the archaeologist who devoted his life to surveying the Alaisian hills and claimed to have found evidence of the lost battle, while his body was buried hundreds of miles away on the north coast of France, his bronze bust was installed outside the village church at Myon?
The bronze busts of two French archaeologists, who died 70 years apart, who both independently devoted their lives to studying Alesia in the belief that the 52 BCE battle was fought there, are located in the neighboring hilltop villages of Myon and Alesia in the Franche-Comte. Why did they choose these two specific churches in preference to all of the other more spectacular village churches in the vicinity? Aiming to answer this question, both churches were plotted on Google maps and a straight line was extended from the tip of the nose on Colomb’s bust in Myon to the nose on Delacroix’s bust outside Alaise church. The resulting alignment is oriented at 120° south east to 300° north west, which is precisely the axis of the winter solstice sunrise and the summer solstice sunset when viewed from Alaise church.
Delacroix’s and Colomb’s busts were located on the local solstice axis to less that one second of one minute of one degree of inaccuracy; therefore, standing at Georges Colomb’s bust in Myon on the shortest day of the year, 21st December, the winter solstice; the midwinter sun would be seen rising from directly behind Delacroix’s bust to the south east. Conversely, standing at Delacroix’s bust at Alaise church on the longest day of the year, 21st June, the summer solstice; the midsummer sun sets directly behind Colomb’s bust at Myon church to the north west.
Extending the Gallic sun line
The next step was to extend this solstice axis towards the south east and to the north west, an action which revealed another beautiful historic phenomena; a string of eight village churches directly situated upon the solstice axis with a variance of error to the order of less than one degree over a distance of 47.5 miles. The eight churches are: Mesmay, Myon, Alaise, Levier, Grange D’Eglise, Auberson, Ursins and Ogdens.
Looking closer at this alignment of eight churches it appears to have been executed with nearly incredible precision as the solstice alignment passes through the architectural body of each building. The accuracy of the church builders adherence to the solstice alignment is not ‘a bit to the left or a tad to the right’, and there is no need for complicated Golden Section geometry to “pull it all together.” The following three screenshots from Google Earth Pro illustrate the alignment crossing the centres of the church entrances and the very tips of their clock towers and spires.
The 21st of December marked the return of the light and the progression towards spring and all over the ancient world this date was ritualized in the alignment to the rising and setting sun was integrated within prehistoric sacred architecture. Examples include the Neolithic agriculturalists in Ireland who around 3200 BC aligned the long passage leading into Newgrange tomb towards the midwinter winter sunrise. Around 2800 BCE in Orkney, the island group of the north coast of Scotland, the passage leading into Maeshowe chambered cairn was directed towards Ward Hill, the place of the sun setting on the island of Hoy to the south west.
COMPLETING THE SOLAR MATRIX
Returning to Delacroix’s bust located outside Alaise church. The midwinter sun rises on the 21st December over the alignment of churches, but what happened that night, at midwinter sunset? This is the key moment when the year came to a close and it was arguably ‘more’ sacred than sunrise on that same day. In Orkney, for example, from Maeshowe the midwinter sun sets behind Ward Hill on Hoy and hundreds of other Neolithic sites were located so that prominent hills and mountains on the western horizon “received” the setting midwinter sun. Alaise is no different. Standing at Delacroix’s bust outside Alaise church on the 21st December, the setting midwinter sun vanishes behind the summit of Mont Poupet, the highest rise in the local environment, thus the most sacred peak, the home of the sun god.
It is in this midwinter sunset that our overview of the solar solstice alignments of Alaise comes to an end. It can be speculated that for anything up to 5000 years before Delacroix and Colomb had their busts installed upon the ancient Gallic solstice axis, the hilltop of Alaise had been an important sacred site for the first farmers who gathered here to watch their holy men celebrating the end of the winter and the coming of the light.
In what can only be described as a great stroke of irony, Mont Poupet is the mountain that featured at the very centre of Guchard’s system of 24 alignments, and it can be concluded that for all the ‘wrong’ reasons Guichard ‘correctly’ assumed Mont Poupet and Alaise to be central in a system of ancient cartography. But rather than sticking to accepted cultural perimeters and interpreting alignments in the context of Gallic solar worship, he went off the esoteric deep end seeking answers in Ancient Greek mystery schools. If Guichard had been more down to earth and had considered Mont Poupet as the centre of an ancient Gallic calendar laid out in the landscape, he too might have discovered the eight mediaeval churches situated upon the prehistoric solstice axis.
It is almost inconceivable to think that Delacroix and Colomb had not both uncovered the secret alignment of churches during their mapping and surveying of Alaise and the surrounding terrain, and this is why they had their busts located where we find them. Indeed, the researcher would be stretched to offer a more conclusive reason for these two bronze busts having been stapled at the pulsing centre of Gaul’s ancient solar matrix - Alaise, Myon and Mont Poupet, about which the entire visual calendrical system revolves.