(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
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
3075; A. Grenier, Manuel d'archéologie gallo-romaine
III, 1 (1958) 414-16; Gallia
23 (1965) 279-84; 24 (1966)
G. C. PICARD