previous next

SEQUANA (Saint-Germain-Sources-Seine) Côte-d'Or, France.

The sanctuary of Sequana (the name is attested in 11 mscriptions) is 30 km N of Dijon on the E side of the vale where the Seine rises. It is built around a smaller spring—the sacred source of the river. Badly preserved and excavated at extremely long intervals, the complex is not easy to make out. At the upper level are the spring and its catchment, which pipes the water off into a basin. The latter is enclosed in a large peristyle courtyard leading off into small chambers. The whole complex measures ca. 100 m. A little farther down is a small fanum of the Celtic type. On a lower level is an elliptical building enclosing a rectangular pool (4.5 x 3 in), which has a system of pipes running across it. At the bottom of the vale is a marshy area at least 40 m long with two N-S walls at either end. At first mistaken for a piscina, since 1963 it has been found to contain wooden votive offerings.

There seem to have been two major construction periods, one represented by the first stage of the basin and fanum, the other (not before the 2d c. A.D.) by the rest of the buildings. However, the complex was always on a small scale.

The votive sculptures found on the site make up the richest collection in Gaul. Great numbers of stone carvings had been unearthed in early excavations—statues modeled in the round and stelai—as well as two large bronzes. In the excavations carried out in 1963, 1966, and 1967, several hundred wooden objects were found in the marshland, many of them stuck in the ground, around the point where the river rises. Aside from two bronzes (Sequana standing upright in a boat, and a dancing fawn), the stone and wooden sculptures are all on the same subjects. They include representations of pilgrims, often wearing the bardocucullus (Gaulish cowled cape), or sometimes naked in the wooden versions. Other versions portray only the head; several wooden sculptures show superimposed heads, not yet separated one from another. The series of ex-votos prove that this was a healing sanctuary, for parts of the body are depicted—limbs or torsos, in the round, little bronze plaques depicting eyes, breasts, sexual organs, and, in wood alone, very arbitrary schematic representations of internal organs. A medical significance should probably also be given to the representations of swaddled infants; on the other hand attempts to see on adults' heads traces of a disease of which they were asking to be cured are hardly convincing. Finally, there are a few wooden statuettes of animals.

The coins show that the sanctuary was active from the 1st to the 4th c. A.D. The wooden ex-votos date, in the context of the other archaeological finds, to A.D. 50 or 60 at the latest.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

Baudot, “Rapport sur les découvertes archéologiques faites aux sources de la Seine,” Mémoires de la Commission des Antiquités de la Côte-d'Or 2 (1842-46), 95-144; Corot, “Les fouilles des sources de la Seine, découverte de bronzes figurés,” ibid. 20 (1933-35) 107-20; R. Martin, “Fouilles aux sources de la Seine campagne 1953,” Rev. Arch. de l'Est 5 (1954) 289-95; id., & S. Deyts, Ex-voto du sanctuaire des Sources de la Seine Musée archéologique (1966); Deyts, Rev. Arch. de l'Est (1965ff: several papers); id., Scientific American (July 1971) 65-73.

C. ROLLEY

hide Display Preferences
Greek Display:
Arabic Display:
View by Default:
Browse Bar: