(Sées) Dept. Orne, France.
was the name of a people generally recognized as identical with the Esuvii mentioned by Caesar (BGall
who does not refer to any town in their connection. Straddling the deep valley of the Orne, their territory reappears relatively late after the Roman conquest, forming the civitas Sagiorum mentioned in the Notitia Galliarum
among the cities of the second Lugdunensis province.
The name of the Sagii was carried over to what very
likely was their capital, whence the present name Sees.
The settlement undoubtedly dates from before the
Roman conquest. Originating as a ford over the Orne,
it seems to have played an essentially commercial role
and does not appear to have been fortified by the Romans. The absence of any important remains from the
last years of the Late Empire (coins found there range
from the 1st c. to the beginning of the 3d c.) may possibly mean that a deep decline set in after the invasions,
following which an episcopal see was established after
the town was Christianized, perhaps at the very end of the 4th c.
The site is covered over by the modern town. Chance
finds made in the 19th c. have been indifferently exploited. The most significant of these is a bath furnace
found under the N arm of the cathedral transept. Although the majority of the finds were made to the N and W of the cathedral, this does not prove conclusively that there was a forum in this area, as has sometimes
been suggested. On the other hand, the present rue de
la République can be said to follow the general lines of
the road that crossed the city N-S.
In 1966, a wall 1.5 m thick was revealed when a
trench was dug in the rue Conté, 65 m W of the cathedral. Built of a rubble of limestone rocks bedded in pink
mortar, it was bonded horizontally with brick and shows
traces of a somewhat coarse facing. The wall seems to
have been part of an octagonal building, perhaps a religious edifice of the fanum type. This hypothesis is
strengthened by fragments of sculpture that have been
found in the nearby embankment, among them a youthful figure that might be Bacchus, whom the Gallo-Romans sometimes identified with the Gallic god Esus. From the style of the bas-reliefs, a provincial version of
the Hellenistic style, and the motifs used in the friezes—Greek interlaced borders, stylized sycamore leaves—the
pieces can be dated from the first half of the 2d c.
(Musée Départemental des Antiquités et Objets d'Art,
Sées). The deepest stratum found close by revealed pottery dating from the beginning of the 1st c., some of it from Arezzo.
The remains of a dwelling were located through a
chance discovery in 1968 m the rue Amesland, N of the
Maurey d'Orville, Recherches historiques sur la ville, les évêques et le diocèse de Sées
(1829) passim; J. Mallet, “Débris architecturaux trouvés
dans le sous-sol de la cathédrale de Sées,” Soc. hist. et arch. de l'Orne
V (1866) 331-40; J. Barret, “A propos de
quelques vestiges gallo-romains trouvés dans les fondations de la cathédrale de Sées,” ibid. X (1891) 480-86;
G. Mathière, “Etudes normandes et gallo-romaines. Le
pays de Sées (Esuvii, Sagii ou Saii),” Rev. Catholique
année (1934) 123-27; C. du Mesnil du
Buisson, “Une voie commerciale de haute antiquité dans
l'Orne. Les origines de . . . Sées,” Soc. hist. et arch. de
LXVII (1949) 24-34~; P. Véron, “Découvertes
archéologiques à Sées,” ibid. LXXXIV (1966) 257-59I
; C. Varoqueaux, “Vestiges d'époque gallo-romaine découverts à Sées,” Annales de Ndie
16 (1966) 384-88PI
J. J. Hatt, “Note sur les fragments de sculptures découverts à Sées,” ibid., 389-92I
J. J. BERTAUX