DEA AUGUSTA VOCONTIORUM
An Augustan colony of Gallia Narbonensis on the road from Valence to Briançon, in the
Drôme valley, and an important religious center of the
Vocontii. Christian inscriptions of the 5th-6th c. attest
the presence of a community there. The city is mentioned
in the Antonine Itinerary
, the Peutinger Table
, the Jerusalem Itinerary
, the Notitia Galliarum
, and by Stephen
A wall 1940 m long surrounds the city; it is partly
Roman and partly mediaeval but the plan and foundations of the mediaeval wall are probably Roman. Construction is of rubblework bonded with very hard cement,
faced on both sides with small stones. The rampart is
reinforced by round, square, and polygonal towers, some
of which have bands of brick, suggesting that they were
built or restored fairly late. Four gates are open, the
Porte Saint-Pierre and Porte Anglaise to the W, Porte
Saint-Vincent to the S, and to the E the Porte Saint-Marcel, the only one flanked by towers.
Encased in the Porte Saint-Marcel is a monumental
arch, of which an arcade remains as well as the toothing
stones of the adjoining sections: a barrel vault with
interlace in low relief, a frieze with sacrificial scenes, a
bull's head on the keystone of the archivolt, more bulls'
heads on the piers, and in the corner-pieces tritons blowing horns. A stone carved with a design of pearls and
spirals has been found in the oldest part of the fortified
gate, and a cornice fragment carved with heart-shaped
ornament was found in the body of the N tower known
as the Porte Saint-Agathe. Fragments bearing inscriptions can be seen at several points in the wall and towers.
These finds and the monumental arch are further evidence for a late date (4th c.?).
The city is roughly oblong, narrower in the upper (N)
section that includes the Des Beaumes plateau and the
area known as La Citadelle. Low arches were built in
the Chastel quarter; they served as buttresses. The decumanus maximus, which corresponds to the Grande Rue
(from the Porte Saint-Pierre to the Porte Saint-Marcel),
as well as a secondary decumanus and the cardo maximus can still be traced in the streets of the modern town.
The water supply of Dea Augusta came from two
aqueducts, one from the Rays springs in the commune
of Romeyer to the NE, the other from Valcroissant to
the E, remains of which are still standing. In each case
the conduit is built of cut stones, probably because of the
steep slopes. Traces of the first aqueduct have been located mainly between the Rays springs and the hamlet
of Moulin. The aqueduct leads to a water tower with a
cistern, in the S part of the Des Beaumes plateau.
Traces of the second aqueduct have been found in a
number of places, but no signs of a conduit at the source;
the water must have been caught downstream from the
pass, where many slabs have been discovered. The width
and height of the channel varies from place to place, but
the method of construction is much the same throughout:
paving stones, 1 m wide, laid lengthwise form the base
of the conduit. These stones form a projecting band down
the middle, and on each side slabs are laid vertically to
form piers. The slabs are laid close together by means of
grooves, and mortared. Over the piers is a rubblework
arch topped with fairly thick masonry. The conduit is in
many places covered with a limestone deposit, sometimes
0.05 cm thick. Only one other example of this type of
conduit is known, in an aqueduct at Bourges. It should
be noted that this kind of masonry is used only in the
upper sections; in the lower ones the channels are built
The water was carried farther by various piping systems; recently two such systems were found at the Nouvelle Poste, near the cathedral. The base is of tiles fitted
together and laid on a bed of mortar; the sides are made
of quarry stones with paving stones on top. Other pipes
have been located in the Chastel and Palat quarters and
in the modern cemetery.
Few public monuments have been excavated. Some
baths have been identified, by remains of hypocausts and
by slabs of marble and porphyry used as facing, outside
the surrounding wall to the NE on both banks of the
Meyrosse. Nor has anything conclusive been found NW
of the rampart, in the Palat quarter, where the Carte
Archéologique places a hypothetical theater (or amphitheater?) in a hollow on the hillside. However, two fragments of balustrade reused in the rampart in the Late
Empire very possibly came from a theater. Outside this
same rampart three Roman bridges have been located:
the Meyrosse and Saint-Eloi bridges to the E and the
Pont-Rompu to the S. All three have been rebuilt since
the 15th c., but with Roman blocks or on Roman foundations.
Two necropoleis, to NE and NW, have yielded a number of inscribed funerary stelai and some sarcophagi.
Many more stelai were reused in the rampart. Several of
the inscriptions and sarcophagi are Christian.
Villas and various unidentified buildings have been located both within and outside the rampart. Columns,
capitals, marble slabs, pottery, and mosaics have been
found; among the latter is a floor in the SE quarter near
the cathedral depicting Neptune on a sea-horse surrounded by hexagons decorated with fish. A Christian
mosaic showing the four rivers of Paradise was found in
the same district (now in the Salle des Archives at the
Hôtel de Ville).
Die had a number of temples, known however only
from altar inscriptions or religious statues: a Temple of
XII, 1563), a temple of Vulcan (App.
epigr. of Carte arch
., 9), a temple of Kybele and Attis
(seven altars or fragments of taurobolium altars), and a
temple of Dea Augusta Andarta (CIL
Monuments and objects found at Die are housed in a
H. Desaye, “Notes sur laqueduc romain
de Valcroissant à Die,” Rhodania
(1952) 8-17; id., Die
à l'époque romaine
(forthcoming); J. Sautel, Carte archéologique de la Gaule romaine
; Grenier, Manuel
IV (1960) 106-11.