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ICIODURUM (Yzeures) Indre et Loire, France.

On the right bank of the Creuse, at the S tip of Indre et Loire, which at this point forms a wedge between Vienne and Indre. The boundaries of the modern districts in this area are roughly the same as those of the Gallic cities: Indre et Loire corresponds to the territory of the Turones, Vienne to that of the Pictones, and Indre to that of the Bituriges Cubi. Iciodurum was thus a frontier post belonging to the Turones.

The church of Yzeures was built in the late 19th c., replacing a 12th c. chapel which had been erected over the foundations of a Merovingian church. In 1895-96 the foundations of one of the walls of the Merovingian church were found and dismantled; they were built of large stones, many of them carved, taken from a Gallo-Roman sanctuary. (The same is true at Vienne en Val in Loiret and Saint Ambroix in Cher.) In 1965 further excavations revealed the presence of other Gallo-Roman blocks in the foundations of the N wall of the modern church, which is built upon a Merovingian wall.

The 95 blocks unearthed in 1895-96 are now displayed under cover close to the church. They include architectural elements (architraves, friezes with acanthus carvings, and pilasters, similarly decorated); there are also 20 stones ornamented with figures in bas-relief, 18 of which may be regrouped to form two large rectangular masses, carved on each surface. The most important one judging by its size showed on one side Jupiter wielding his thunderbolts, and on the other Mars in majesty with a heap of arms beside him, flanked by Vulcan and Apollo of the Lyre. The second represents, on the front and back, Minerva and Mars fighting snake-legged giants, while the sides depict Herakles delivering Hesione and Perseus delivering Andromache. An octagonal tambour, half of which has been preserved, bears the figures of a satyr, Apollo, Leda, and one of the Dioscuri. Some carved blocks cannot be included in this list, in particular a large stone with a bust of the warrior Minerva. Two large slabs bear an inscription identifying an aedes of Minerva built by the Petronii. It was recognized that the two rectangular dados and the octagonal tambour formed the base of a pillar similar to the columns of Jupiter and the serpent, and this was confirmed by the structural resemblance of the Yzeures pantheon to that at Vienne en Val. In both cases, the hierarchy of the gods begins with Jupiter, followed by Minerva. Mars and Vulcan are directly associated with Jupiter. At Yzeures this triad is completed by Apollo, who takes the place Venus holds at Vienne en Val. On the second dado described above at Yzeures, Venus is probably represented by the naked torso of a woman who has also been interpreted as a female captive associated with Mars.

The pillars of Yzeures and Vienne en Val belong to the W series of this family of monuments: not as prolific as the Rhenish series, but excelling in these two cases at least in the spaciousness and richness of the sanctuaries. The archetype of the two families has been identified as the Nautes pillar in Paris, and the pillar of Mavilly is another early example.

The aedes of Minerva built by the Petronii was probably not the only sacred monument at Yzeures. It is likely that the sanctuary had a vast porticoed temenos in the middle of which stood the pillar and altars (the crowning of one of them has been preserved) as well as the cellas. The problem is whether the Petronii donated the whole complex or only the temple—or chapel—of Minerva. The sculptures are homogeneous and probably came from the same workshop. Perhaps Petronius the Elder had dedicated the greater part of the monuments and at his death all that remained was to build the aedes of Minerva.

The formula, numinibus Augustorum, with which most of the religious dedications in this part of Gaul begin indicates, as a rule, that the dedication was made in the reign of joint rulers, that is, under Marcus Aurelius and Lucius Verus at the earliest. The style of the sculptures belongs to the end of the 2d c. or the first years of the 3d c. The inscription is engraved in square capital letters, but the G has the rounded form rarely found in Gaul until the 3d c.

The ruins of La Guérinière, 3 km NW of Yzeures, were explored in 1964-65. This is an important, wealthy villa with baths. A statuette was found representing an adolescent god sitting on a goat. The god is certainly Mercury; the Gauls very often represented him seated. This preference may have been inspired by Greek prototypes, but the explanation is probably to be found in the connection between Mercury and Cernunnos, who is often depicted in a sitting or crouching position. We have seen that Mercury does not appear on the pillar of Yzeures, and his absence is not due to chance (see Vienne en Val). The Yzeures finds point to the coexistence, in the same region, of divergent religious ideas.


F. Cumont, RA 2 (1912) 211-15; E. Espérandieu, Recueil génénal des bas-reliefs, statues et bustes de la Gaule (1907-55) IV, nos. 2996-99. CIL XIII, 3075; A. Grenier, Manuel d'archéologie gallo-romaine III, 1 (1958) 414-16; Gallia 23 (1965) 279-84; 24 (1966) 256.


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