History of Monaco

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The early history of Monaco is primarily concerned with the protective and strategic value of the Rock of Monaco, the area's chief geological landmark, which served first as a shelter for ancient peoples and later as a fortress. Part of Liguria's history since the fall of the Roman Empire, from the 13th to the early 15th century the area was contested for primarily political reasons. Since that point, excepting a brief period of French occupation, it has remained steadily under the control of the House of Grimaldi.[2]

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Early history and Ligurian settlement

The Rock of Monaco served as a shelter for the area's early inhabitants from the end of the Paleolithic period, approximately 300,000 BC, evidence of which has been found in a cave in St. Judist's Gardens. According to the accounts of historian Diodorus Siculus and geographer Strabo, the area's first permanent settlers were the mountain-dwelling Ligures, who emigrated from their native city of Genoa, Italy. However, the ancient Ligurian language, which probably was Indo-European, is not directly connected to the Italian dialect spoken by the modern inhabitants of Liguria, nor to the modern Monegasque language.

Greek colonization and Herculean legend

The Phocaeans of Massalia founded the colony of Monoikos, named for its Ligurian inhabitants, in the 6th century B.C. in the area now known as Monaco. Monoikos was associated with Hercules, venerated in this location alone as Hercules Monoecus (i.e. the lone-dweller). According to the "travels of Hercules" theme, also documented by Diodorus Siculus and Strabo, both Greeks and native Ligurian people asserted that Hercules passed through the area.

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