(Narbonne) Gallia Narbonensis, Aude, France.
Narbo is at the crossroads of the via Domitia,
which came from Béziers and went on to Spain, and
the Aquitaine road, which led to Toulouse. It was 19.2
km from the sea near the outlet of the Aude (Atax)
into the lacus Rubresus. The original town, which
Avienus calls Naro (Or. Mar
. 587), began early in the
6th c. B.C. on the hill of Montlaurés 4 km NW of the
modern built-up area, which covers the Roman town.
It was the main market and the capital of the tribe of
the Elysicii. In spite of various vicissitudes, notably destruction ca. 400 B.C., it preserved its independence until
the invasion of the Volcae in the 3d c. The town was
then destroyed, but was rebuilt and continued to be occupied until the beginning of our era. Before the decline precipitated by the founding of the Roman colony,
Naro was a flourishing center, thanks to the trade in
British tin (Diod. 5.22
, 38). A coin issued by the town
in the 3d and 2d c. testifies to its prosperity. At the
time of the Roman conquest, a very dense settlement
had grown into two distinct parts over an area of ca.
30 ha. The upper town was built in terraces on the hill.
It consisted of quadrangular huts cut into the rock,
some standing free, some touching one another. The
lower town was located around the acropolis down to
the level of the lagoons. In it there clustered huts, first
built of clay in the 6th c., then built of stone.
In 118 B.C. the Romans founded Colonia Narbo Martius (Vell. Pat. 2.7.8), undoubtedly on the site of the
emporium of the city just mentioned. It played a military role during the invasion of the Cimbri, the campaigns of Pompey against Sertorius, the conquest of Gaul by Caesar, and the civil war. In 45 Caesar established a new colony on behalf of the veterans of the
10th Legion (Suet. Tib
. 4). It then became Colonia
Julia Paterna Narbo Martius Decumanorum. The first
two centuries witnessed the town's zenith. In 27 B.C.
Augustus presided there over a general assembly of all
Gaul. It received the title of Claudia, no doubt from
Claudius. Trajan gave Narbo a fountain, and Hadrian
stayed there in 121. Antoninus Pius restored the public
baths, porticos, and basilicas destroyed by a serious fire
in 145. At this time too Narbo was commercially prosperous. The port was divided into several sectors. At
Narbonne itself there was only a river port, no doubt at
the place known as Les Barques. But numerous wharfs
were distributed in the nearby lagoons, on the islands
of Sainte-Lucie and l'Aute, at Saint-Martin and La
Nautique, whose peak in the first century coincides with
the export of pottery from La Graufesenque.
Beginning at the end of the 2d c. Narbonne declined.
It was severely affected by the fire of 145. Besides, it
was off the increasingly important Rhône-Rhine axis, and
its ports silted up. It escaped the invasions of the 3d c.,
but the Visigoths entered in 413. Their king, Athaulf,
married Galla Placidia there in Jan. 414. The Visigoths
were expelled before the end of the year and installed
themselves in 418 m a territory extending from Toulouse
to Bordeaux. From there they attacked Narbonne on
several occasions, and finally, in 462, took it, thanks to
the treachery of Count Agrippinus. Narbonne still preserved its monuments in the 5th c. (Sid. Apoll. Carm
Most of these monuments are known only by literary
or epigraphic texts or by chance finds. On account of
its military role the colony probably was surrounded by
ramparts from the time of its foundation. It is not
known, however, whether these were destroyed or enlarged at the time Caesar founded the Roman colony.
Perhaps this first enclosure has been discovered N of
the town near the gate called the Porte de Béziers in
the Middle Ages. If so, it was provided with square
towers 6 m on a side. To the S, the Aude served as a
moat in all periods. However, the town of the Early
Empire extended amply beyond the original perimeter
and extended over ca. 100 ha. The best known rampart
belongs to the smaller city of the Later Empire and
dates no doubt to the end of the 3d c. It had a perimeter
of 1,600 m and protected the center of the town and
its main monuments (except for the amphitheater),
covering an area of 30 ha.
The general topography can only be reconstituted by
studying the plan of the mediaeval city. Its regularity
reflects the cardines and decumani of the ancient town,
located on the left bank of the river. The Via Domitia
constituted the cardo maximus. It has been located, with
its sewer, under the course of the Rue Droite, between
the Pons Vetus (apparently of Roman origin but greatly
rearranged) and the Place Bistan, the site of the forum.
The latter, 85 m wide and 60 deep, was bordered by
a portico. It was adorned by statues, whose dedicatory
inscriptions have been found, and by an altar, which
established the rules and calendar for the festivities in
honor of Augustus (CIL
XII, 4333). The Capitol stood
N of the forum on the low hill of Les Moulinassés. This
exceptionally important monument is known from excavations. It dates to the 2d c., no doubt later than the fire of 145. It stood on a podium more than 3 m high and measured 48 x 36 m. It was pseudodipteral, with
8 columns on the front and 11 on the sides (9 of the
latter were engaged). From the pieces which have been
found, the columns stood 18 m high and were of the
Corinthian order. There was a spacious peribolus (127 x
87 on the outside) around the temple. The peribolus
was surrounded on three sides by a double gallery. This
was divided in the middle by pillars with two convex
and two concave sides. The 4th side of the peribolus
joined up with the portico of the forum. On the S side
near the crossing of the decumanus and the main cardo,
the forum was bordered by underground constructions.
Apparently these were horrea rather than cryptoporticos. The exact size of the building remains to be determined. The part investigated forms a regular quadrilateral (50 x 37 m) around a solid block. Each side included a corridor with a continuous semicylindrical
vault; the corridor was flanked by cells to the left and
right. The building was constructed under Augustus and
underwent important modifications during the Middle
Ages. Other underground galleries were also probably
built at the same time, 150 m E of the forum at the
intersection of a cardo and the main decumanus (Rue
Garibaldi). They no doubt were the cellar-warehouses
of one of Narbonne's markets.
The center of the town included other monuments
which have left no traces, but which are known from
Sidonius Apollinaris and from various inscriptions.
Thus, there existed several bathing establishments, one
of which was built E of the town in the 1st c. by the
sevir Chrysanthus. The Temple Kybele stood in the
same district. The bridge was framed by two monumental arches decorated with friezes of Gallic arms,
preserved in situ at the Musée de Lamourguier. The
theater has not been found, but the amphitheater (121 x
93 m) is located on the E outskirts of the town, ca.
500 m. from the ramparts of the Later Empire. It was
bordered to the W by a spacious portico, 160 x 107 m.
There, in a pool, the lex concilii provinciae Narbonensis was found; it fixes the privileges and obligations of
the flamen of the province (CIL
XII, 6038). This group,
which included the amphitheater, porticos, public baths,
and no doubt a market, was built perhaps in the Flavian
period. It is believed to have been the provincial seat
of the imperial cult.
This complex was separated from the center of the
town by a district of urban villas. Several of these have
been located by chance finds (walls, mosaics, inscriptions,
statues). Built at the beginning of the 1st c. A.D., they
were ravaged by a violent fire and abandoned during
the course of the 3d c. Identical villas were located N
and W of the center. Several necropoleis extended along
Narbonne's outskirts. The main ones were on the Via
Domitia, N of the town, and on the Aquitaine road
to the SW. A 3d c. mausoleum has been found about
300 m from the right bank of the river next to the
modern Church of Saint-Paul. It consisted of a rectangular chamber (6 x 5 m) with an apse on the E side.
The Christians reutilized the mausoleum in the 5th c.
by placing sarcophagi under the floor, because it stood
not far from the spot where Paul, Narbonne's first
apostle, was buried at the beginning of the 3d c. Other
Christian burials have been found all around. The Christians of Narbonne first gathered together in a private
house. This was succeeded by a basilica of the time of
Constantine, located in the modern Cour de la Madeleine in the archbishop's palace. It was destroyed by
invasions and replaced in turn by a basilica which
Bishop Rusticus built from 442 to 445.
A large number of epigraphic documents come from
the necropoleis. Together with all the finds from the
town, they are kept in the very large lapidary museum
installed in the Church of Notre-Dame de Lamourguière (1300 documents) and in the archaeological museum in the archbishop's palace.
Bull. de la Commission Arch. de Narbonne
(1890); 32 (1970); P. Helena, Les origines de
; C. H. Benedict, A History of Narbo
(1941); P. M. Duval, “A propos du milliaire de Cn.
Domitius Ahenobarbus trouvé dans l'Aude en 1949,”
7.1 (1949); V. Perret, “Le Capitole de Narbonne,” Gallia
; A. Grenier, Carte arch.
de la Gaule romaine, fasc. XII, Aude
Solier, “Fouilles et découvertes à Narbonne et dans le
Narbonnais,” Bull. Com. Arch. Narbonne
; J. Giry & A. F. Mare, Narbonne, son Hist.,
; M. Gayraud, “Temple municipal et temple provincial du culte impérial à Narbonne,”
Mélanges Fernand Benoît, Rev. des Etudes Ligures
M. GAYRAUD & Y. SOLIER