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The site of Autun was originally a settlement of the Allobroges, called "Autarata" or "Auterata", meaning "the shaded grove", and later Augustodunum. In the late Roman Empire, it became known as Augustonemetum (or Augusta Nemetum), a provincial name which would be given to distinguished cities in Gaul: for example Gien (Julia Nemoria) and Lyon (Lugdunensis). The town is also mentioned in Ptolemy's Geography under the name Aotus. It was situated on an island surrounded by swamps at some distance from the bank of the river Saône. From there it gradually extended itself northwards along both banks of The city has been listed among UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1981.