(Soissons) Aisne, France.
Situated at the juncture of the Crise and the
Aisne, the Roman city is recorded in the Peutinger Table
and the Antonine Itinerary
Despite the discovery of Gallic artifacts in the town,
the actual Gallic capital was to the NE at Pommiers,
where a large oppidum, still well preserved, stood at the
edge of the plateau between the Aisne and the Juvigny.
This Iron Age III fortress, one of the largest of the territory of the Suessiones, corresponds to the Noviodunum
of the Gallic wars where Caesar received the submission
of the Suessiones. Thousands of Gallic fragments have
been found on the site, and Gallic necropoleis and settlements from the same period have been identified at
Pernant, Marcin et Vaux, Crouy, Ciry, and Chassemy.
The foundation of the Roman city cannot be precisely
dated, and the network of roads indicates that the Gallic
site of Pommiers was still occupied in the Roman period.
Thus Pommiers-Soissons is an example of a new town
created by Rome to replace an old Gallic town, just as
Vermand was replaced by Saint-Quentin, Bibracte by
Autun, Gergovia by Clermont.
The Roman city must have developed around the road
from Rheims to Amiens, but we know nothing of the
dimensions of the insulae or the nature of the dwellings.
Excavations in the 19th c. uncovered remains of a theater 300 m W of the Late Empire wall, and extensive
ruins to the N, but no ancient edifice has been preserved.
Frequent discoveries of carved blocks prove, however,
that the capital of the civitas of the Suessiones must have
been as well supplied with monuments as the other cities
of Belgic Gaul. Recently some 20 carved blocks were discovered, reused in the wall of the Late Empire; some of
them obviously came from a monumental ensemble
(cornices, pilasters, modillions). Among remains of
carvings Apollo with his lyre is represented. The style
and proportions of the figures bear some resemblance to
the decorations on large funerary monuments of the
Trèves area. The plan of the rampart is not completely
known. It was probably built at the end of the 3d c., and
protected a 12 ha sector slightly set back from the Aisne.
Only the S side is partially visible, at the rue des Minimes
near the episcopal palace, and only one tower has been
found, at the SW right angle of the wall.
In the 4th c., according to the Notitia Dignitatum
Soissons became a center of arms manufacture. And the
discovery of a necropolis on the Aisne with Tombs containing weapons seems to indicate the presence of allies,
perhaps Laeti. The last representative of Roman authority resided here before his defeat by Clovis. The finds
from Soissons are in the Musée Saint Léger.
F. Vercauteren, Les civitates de la Belgique Seconde
(1934) 106-51; G. Lobjois, “La nécropole
de Pernant,” Celticum
18 (1967); E. Will, “Informations,” Gallia
25, 2 (1967) 189-91; J. Desbordes, Gallia
31 (1973) 326.