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AUGUSTA SUESSIONUM (Soissons) Aisne, France.

Situated at the juncture of the Crise and the Aisne, the Roman city is recorded in the Peutinger Table and the Antonine Itinerary.

Despite the discovery of Gallic artifacts in the town, the actual Gallic capital was to the NE at Pommiers, where a large oppidum, still well preserved, stood at the edge of the plateau between the Aisne and the Juvigny. This Iron Age III fortress, one of the largest of the territory of the Suessiones, corresponds to the Noviodunum of the Gallic wars where Caesar received the submission of the Suessiones. Thousands of Gallic fragments have been found on the site, and Gallic necropoleis and settlements from the same period have been identified at Pernant, Marcin et Vaux, Crouy, Ciry, and Chassemy.

The foundation of the Roman city cannot be precisely dated, and the network of roads indicates that the Gallic site of Pommiers was still occupied in the Roman period. Thus Pommiers-Soissons is an example of a new town created by Rome to replace an old Gallic town, just as Vermand was replaced by Saint-Quentin, Bibracte by Autun, Gergovia by Clermont.

The Roman city must have developed around the road from Rheims to Amiens, but we know nothing of the dimensions of the insulae or the nature of the dwellings. Excavations in the 19th c. uncovered remains of a theater 300 m W of the Late Empire wall, and extensive ruins to the N, but no ancient edifice has been preserved. Frequent discoveries of carved blocks prove, however, that the capital of the civitas of the Suessiones must have been as well supplied with monuments as the other cities of Belgic Gaul. Recently some 20 carved blocks were discovered, reused in the wall of the Late Empire; some of them obviously came from a monumental ensemble (cornices, pilasters, modillions). Among remains of carvings Apollo with his lyre is represented. The style and proportions of the figures bear some resemblance to the decorations on large funerary monuments of the Trèves area. The plan of the rampart is not completely known. It was probably built at the end of the 3d c., and protected a 12 ha sector slightly set back from the Aisne. Only the S side is partially visible, at the rue des Minimes near the episcopal palace, and only one tower has been found, at the SW right angle of the wall.

In the 4th c., according to the Notitia Dignitatum, Soissons became a center of arms manufacture. And the discovery of a necropolis on the Aisne with Tombs containing weapons seems to indicate the presence of allies, perhaps Laeti. The last representative of Roman authority resided here before his defeat by Clovis. The finds from Soissons are in the Musée Saint Léger.


F. Vercauteren, Les civitates de la Belgique Seconde (1934) 106-51; G. Lobjois, “La nécropole de Pernant,” Celticum 18 (1967); E. Will, “Informations,” Gallia 25, 2 (1967) 189-91; J. Desbordes, Gallia 31 (1973) 326.


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