(Nîmes) Gard, France.
name of the city is that of the god of the sacred spring,
whose sanctuary, which predates the Roman conquest,
had led to the creation of several settlements in the vicinity. Nemausus was the capital of the Volcae Arecomici
; Plin. HN
3.37) and at the time of its first
development it was in the zone of influence of Massilia
(Marseille), owing its importance to its position on the
road from Italy to Spain, the future Via Domitiana. It
was under Roman control from 120 B.C. on, and received
the Latin right between 51 and 37. Then in 27 B.C. Augustus conferred on it the title of Colonia Augusta Nemausus, Voltinia tribu. At about the same time Egyptian Greeks, probably from Antony's army, were settled there.
The city, in which the imperial house took an interest,
appears to have been prosperous throughout the Early
Empire. There are even several indications that the residence of the proconsul of Narbonese Gaul was transferred to Nemausus from Narbo Martius (Narbonne)
after the old provincial capital was partially destroyed
by fire in the reign of Antoninus Pius. Nemausus reached
its apogee at the end of the 2d c. A.D., but from the mid
4th c. on a large part of the urban area appears to have
been uninhabited. In 396 a synod met there; the first
mention of a bishop of Nîmes comes in 506.
The town developed at the base of an amphitheater of
hills. The Via Domitiana, which makes a right-angle turn
inside the city, plays the role of both decumanus maximus and cardo maximus in the SE section. Little remains
of the Augustan wall, principally the Porte d'Auguste at
the E end of the decumanus. Its inscription (CIL
3151) dates it to 16-15 B.C. It was originally flanked by
two towers and had four arcaded passages. The Porte de
France, at the S end of the cardo, appears to be much
later. It is a single arch with a high attic decorated with
pilasters in relief. In an indented angle of the NW part
of the wall stands the structure called the Tour Magne.
It is an impressive octagonal monument, with several
stories, a central cella, an inside staircase, and semicircular rooms. The techniques used in its construction date it from the beginning of the Empire, but it is still uncertain whether it was a trophy, a watchtower, a Celtic sanctuary, or a mausoleum.
The forum, at the heart of the Augustan colony
where the decumanus and the cardo intersected, was dominated by the Maison Carrée, perhaps the best preserved
of all religious edifices of the Roman world. It is a Corinthian, pseudoperipteral hexastyle temple (measuring 31.8
x 14.95 m on the outside). Its pycnostyle pronaos is three
intercolumniations deep. The temple, oriented towards
the N, was surrounded by a vast peribolos which was
partially excavated at the beginning of the 19th c. All
that remains of the dedicatory inscription are the bedding-holes on the N frieze and architrave for the letters
of gilded bronze, which have disappeared. It has long
been thought that this inscription was of two periods:
first a dedication to Agrippa of 16 B.C., and then at the
beginning of our era an inscription to C. and L. Caesar,
principes iuventutis, but only the second should be accepted. Examination of the architectonic decoration indicates that the temple, executed from designs taken for
the most part from those for the Forum of Augustus
at Rome, was built by regional construction crews at the
very end of the 1st c. B.C. or the beginning of the 1st c.
The amphitheater is also remarkably well preserved.
The axes of its external perimeter (133.38 x 101.4 m)
and those of the arena (69.14 x 38.34 m) measure substantially the same as those of the amphitheater at Arles,
placing it in size between the amphitheaters of Verona
and Pola. Built of dressed stone, it held some 25,000
spectators. The cavea is supported by two series of
arcades framed on the ground floor by Doric pilasters
and on the next level by engaged columns. Above ran
an attic marked by pilasters in low relief. The most
recent studies place its construction at the end of the
1st c. A.D. or the beginning of the 2d c.
In the NW part of the city the great complex called
the Fountain Sanctuary consists of several buildings of
different dates. The spring, which flowed out of the base
of the hill against which the theater is built, first fed
baths, then entered a pool surrounded by porticos with
a quadrangular kiosk in the center; its base, decorated
with a frieze of foliated scrolls, supported four spiral
columns. The kiosk was a sort of nymphaeum and dates
from the beginning of the reign of Augustus. Fragments
of pediment, belonging to a 2d c. A.D. temple and found
to the S have been collected in the peribolos of the Maison Carrée. To the W still stands the Temple of Diana,
a rectangular edifice composed of a barrel-vaulted niched
central room. Facing its axial entrance and against the
back wall is a square aedicula with a dais, flanked by
two rooms leading to a peripheral corridor, also barrel
Other ancient structures have now vanished: a circus,
a Temple of Augustus, baths, and a basilica built by
Hadrian in honor of Plotinus (Spartianus, Vita Hadriani
12.2; Dio 69.10.3; CIL
XII, 3070). The museum at Nîmes
contains important collections of ceramics, mosaics, coins,
and architectural fragments.
History: F. Mazauric, La civilisation
romaine dans le Gard
(Nîmes et le Gard
) I (1912) 285-335; O. Hirschfeld, “Die Krokodilmünzen,” Kleine
(1913), 40f; E. Bondurand, “Le tracé de la voie
Domitienne dans Nîmes,” Mém. Acad. Nîmes
40 (1920-21) 11-37; F. Benoit, Nîmes, Arles et la Camargue
(1936); M. Louis & A. Blanchet, Carte archéologique
de la Gaule romaine
, VIII, Gard
(1941) 32-133; Grenier,
(1931) 314f and III, 1 (1958) 143f; J.-Ch.
Balty, “Colonia Nemausus,” RBPhil
38 (1960) 59f.
City walls: R. Schulze, BonnJbb
118 (1909) 299f; E.
Espérandieu, La Tourmagne, Notice sommaire
31 6f. Maison Carrée: E. Espérandieu,
La Maison Carnie a Nimes (1929); J.-Ch. Balty, Etudes
sur la Maison Carrée de Nîmes, Coll. Latomus
(1960); R. Amy, “La Maison Carrée,” Actes du VIIIe
Congrès International d'Arch. Class
. 1963 (1965) 639f;
W. D. Heilmeyer, in Korinthische Normalkapitelle
109f; id., “L'inscription de la Maison Carée de Nîmes,”
(1971) 670f; P. Gros, “Traditions hellénistiques
d'Orient dans le décor architectonique der temples romains de Gaule Narbonnaise,” La Gallia Romana
Naz. Lincei, 1973) 167ff; F. S. Kleiner, “Gallia Graeca,
Gallia Romana and the Introduction of Classical Sculpture in Gaul,” AJA
77 (1973) 379ff.
Amphitheater: A. Pelet, Description de l'amphithéâtre
(1866); F. Mazauric, “Les souterrains
des arênes de Nîmes,” Mém. Acad. Nîmes 33 (1910) 1-35; F. Mazauric, “La date des arênes de Nîmes,” CRAI
(1937) 236-38; Grenier, Manuel
III, 2, 613f; G. Lugli,
“La datazione degli anfiteatri di Arles e di Nimes in
NS 13-14 (1964-65) 145-93; R.
Etienne, “La date de l'amphithéâtre de Nîmes,” Mél. Piganiol
2 (1966) 985-1010. Fountain sanctuary: R.
Naumann, Der Quellbezirk von Nîmes, Denkmäler antiker Architektur
IV (1937); Grenier, Manuel