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VALENTIA (Valence) Drôme, France.

A city of the Segovellauni in Gallia Narbonensis, situated on the Rhône at an important crossroads where the N-S road of Agrippa branched off towards Italy by way of the Drôme valley, and secondary roads led towards the Isère valley and the Vivarais region. The Roman colony, which may have been founded by Caesar, is mentioned in Pliny's list of cities that received Roman citizens. At the latest it was founded in Augustus' reign.

Traces of Roman city planning are still to be seen in the grid plan of the old quarter of the modern town; remains of the cardo maximus pavement and the S city gate have been found. The decumanus and cardo probably met near the modern Place de la Visitation. Several Roman burials have been discovered in the Saint-Jacques suburb, indicating that the area of the ancient city was ca. 30 ha. The city had a number of surrounding walls: the first one, dating from the Republican era, was razed and reused in the foundations of the second, which goes back to the Early Empire. The foundations of a tower 7 m in diameter have been unearthed; the walls were 1.6 m thick.

Almost nothing is known of the forum, temples, baths, or houses. However, the outer theater wall has been found near the Place Saint-Jean in the modern Saint-Ursule quarter, and perhaps a trace of an amphitheater. The cathedral apparently stands on the remains of a pagan temple, as does the Chapelle Saint-Martin. A Temple of Kybele and a Mithraeum are known from inscriptions.

Christianity was introduced at the end of the 2d c. by the priest Felix and his deacons Fortunatus and Achilleus, martyred in 212. The first bishop, as evidenced by the texts, was Saint Aemilian (362-374). The only known Christian monument of the period is the baptistery (13 x 17 m), discovered in 1886 and explored in 1952, near the modern cathedral. Designed in the form of a cross around an octagonal pool, it was probably built in the 4th c., of material from Roman baths (?); mosaics were added in the 5th-6th c., and in the 7th-8th c. it was made into a chapel by the addition of an apse (mosaic of Eve). Finally, in the Early Middle Ages it was covered by the Chapelle des Penitents.

The museum has architectural remains, fragments of statues, a Christian sarcophagus and bas-relief, altars, and inscriptions.


A. Blanc, “Valence romaine,” Cahiers Valentinois 1 (1953)PI (with bibl.).


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