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IMUS PYRENAEUS (Saint-Jean le Vieux) Pyrénées Atlantiques, France.

Only the Antonine Itinerary mentions the mansio of linus Pyrenaeus, situated at the foot of the Bentarte and Ibañeta passes leading to Pamplona (Pompaelo). The itinerary places it on the road from Bordeaux to Astorga (Asturica Augusta).

The original site, which goes back to the last third of the 1st c. B.C., was a rectangular castrum (200 x 115 m) ringed by a strong vallum, well preserved on two sides. Inside this rampart a fairly regular city plan can be made out; its axis is the N-S cardo leading to the only gate opening S. The finds from the earliest stratum indicate that the city enjoyed sudden prosperity at the end of the 1st c., probably connected with Valerius Messala's campaigns against the Pyrenean tribes, which ended in 27-26 B.C.

In the 1st c. A.D. the settlement was rebuilt, but retained the same plan and the same defensive circuit wall. A little forum was built, consisting of a small, square, windowless building and some shops grouped around a little temple, whose oblong cella (7.2 x 4.8 m) suggests that it may have been divided into three sections. The construction technique remained very primitive—an inferior mortar was used in all but a few cases. Real prosperity did not come until the last quarter of the century when there was an influx of goods from Spain, and Gallo-Roman imports were stopped almost completely. At this time the city expanded and developed. At the beginning of the 2d c. A.D. the original rampart was split and a new vicus built, using only part of the earlier buildings around the forum. No appreciable change was made from that time until the second half of the 3d c. A.D. when there is evidence of massive destruction, related to the first waves of Germanic invaders moving toward Spain. After a brief period of abandonment at the end of the 3d c. the ruins were leveled and the ancient defenses of the castrum probably restored. Restricted in plan, Imus Pyrenaeus vegetated and the site was finally abandoned, probably before the barbarian invasions of the early 5th c. A.D.


J. Coupry, “Informations,” Gallia (1967) 372PI; (1969) 378-80I.


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