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AQUAE SEXTIAE SALLUVIORUM (Aix-en-Provence) Bouches-du-Rhône, France.

The town derives its names from its hot springs and its founder. Caius Sextius Calvinus created it in 122 B.C. on the territory of the indigenous confederation of the Salluvii, whose capital of Entremont nearby he had just destroyed (Livy Epit. 61; Vell. Pat. 1.15; Strab. 4.15). Originally Aix was a castellum occupied by a garrison which was supposed to watch over the routes leading from Marseille to the Durance and from the Rhône to the Italian frontier. It is the oldest Roman foundation in Gaul. The presence of a Roman garrison must quickly have attracted merchants and businessmen, and it was probably Caesar who made it the capital of a civitas after 49 and divided the territory of Marseille between it and Arles. A Latin colony under Caesar, it later became a Roman one, perhaps under Augustus. Around 375 it became the capital of provincia Narbonensis secunda.

Rather few archaeological remains have been found in situ. The area occupied by the castellum and the colonia respectively is a subject for discussion. The most generally accepted opinion identifies the Roman castellum with the Bourg Saint-Sauveur, which was the capitulary residence in the Middle Ages. Its location somewhat higher than the rest of the site and its dimensions (ca. 400 m N-S and 300 E-W) would correspond fairly well with characteristics of a fortified post. Unfortunately, archaeological proof is lacking and reconstruction of the fortifications remains hypothetical. Only some stretches of road have been noted. Similarly, the course and extent of the wall of the colony are the subject of various hypotheses. Ancient documents allow one to place the S gate. Its arrangement as a half-moon shape protected by two round towers, analogous to gates at Fréus and Arles, may indicate that it dates to the Augustan period. The Via Julia Augusta entered the town by this gate, and in the past tombs and a mausoleum have been noted in the vicinity. Two pieces of wall found long ago, burials, and funerary inscriptions permit the approximate reconstruction of an enclosure with a perimeter of some 3 km. It was elongated along an E-W axis and very much off center with respect to the original castellum. However, the details of the topography still remain to be specified. Sections of the cardo have been known for a long time and recent excavations have reconstructed the axis of the decumanus. There are remains, some of them sizable, of five aqueducts.

According to different indications there probably were an amphitheater and an arch of triumph or trophy. Three villae urbanae have been partly excavated in the Grassi gardens. One of them, probably Augustan, included two peristyles.

Of Early Christian Aix there remains the baptistery of Saint-Sauveur cathedral. It can be dated to the end of the 4th or beginning of the 5th c. Eight unmatching columns in it were borrowed from pagan buildings. The seat of the archbishopric has not yet been found.

There is a Gallo-Roman collection at the Musée Granet.


M. Clerc, Aquae Sextiae (1916)MPI; F. Benoît, F.O.R. (1936); Gallia 5 (1947) 98-122; Gallia 12 (1954) 294-300; Chronique des circonscriptions arch., passim; A. Grenier, Manuel d' arch. gallo-romaine III, IV; P. A. Février, Le développement urbain en Provence (1964); R. Ambard et al., “Fouilles d' urgence et découverte du decumanus à Aix-en-Provence,” Revue Arch. Narbonnaise 5 (1972).


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