(Senlis) Oise, France.
The capital of the civitas of the Silvanectes, it extended
along the N bank of the Nonette. Only the amphitheater
remains, but the modern city preserves the ring formed
by the wall which protected the fortified sector of Augustomagus under the Late Empire.
There appears to have been no Gallic settlement on the
site but several neighboring oppida (Gonvieux, Canneville, Le Tremblaye) bear witness to the importance
throughout the Iron Age of the path along the left bank
of the Oise. And the sanctuary in the forest of Halette
N of Senlis, where more than 200 votive sculptures have
been found, must have replaced a very ancient cult-site.
Despite the absence of large-scale exploration, it has
been possible to reconstitute the plan of the Roman city:
an area (846 x 564 m) was divided into 36 rectangular
insulae intersected by the cardo inaxiinus (a segment of
the road from Senlis to Lutetia), and the decumanus
inaxiinus (part of the road from Beauvais to Rheims).
It has been suggested that the site of a capitolium can
be made out under the cathedral, and a temple of Venus
under the church of St. Vincent, but this is hypothetical.
Only two parts of the city of the Early Empire have been
explored, the amphitheater and the sector of the praetorlum.
The amphitheater, to the SW, was excavated 1865-89.
Its dimensions are small: the axes of the arena are 42
and 34 m. The E and W entrances, on the long axis,
were vaulted; the vaulting has disappeared, but the pilasters which supported it were built of large blocks and
can still be seen. A few stone seats are visible behind the
parapet preserved in the N part of the cavea. On either
side of the main entrances were narrow rooms with
barred openings probably used for wild animals. On
the N-S axis two recesses (ca. 3 x 2 m) opened into the
arena. There were niches with semicircular arches in the
walls of these recesses: seven in the S and larger one,
three in the N one. The discovery of sculpture remains
(torsos of Hercules and Mercury, and of a head of
Venus) suggests that these recesses were sanctuaries dedicated to the gods of the theater. As for a platform in the
amphitheater too big to be a tribune, it may have been
a stage added for theatrical performances. This modification probably dates from the end of the 3d c., while
construction of the building itself must have begun in
the early 1st c.
In the royal castle at Senlis, S of a large tower built
of large blocks and set against the inside face of the wall
of the Late Empire Roman fortress, an architectural
complex was uncovered at a depth of over 3 m. The main
feature is a sill (4 x 60 m), with an alignment of
column bases. A bronze socle 1.5 in high, on which a
statue of the emperor Claudius must have stood, was
also found in this area. The perfectly preserved inscription from the year A.D. 48 rendered homage to Claudius
for his creation of the civitas of the Silvanectes at the
expense of the civitas of the Suessiones. A bronze fragment representing a seinirecumbent river god is more
puzzling: perhaps it was part of the ornamentation of
Claudius' cuirass. Recently a large funerary stele has been
found, representing a man in a toga seated in a niche.
We know nothing of the other monuments of the city
of the Early Empire. They were doubtless destroyed
and the building materials reused in the fortress, which
forms an oval of 840 m protecting 6 ha of the ancient
city. The wall was flanked by 28 semicircular towers,
3 in high with two stories. Another wall with one tower
perpendicular to the ring wall, has been found buried
in a layer of burned debris inside the royal castle. Some
see these remains as the vestiges of an earlier surrounding wall destroyed ca. 355 and then leveled to make
way for a more extensive one built under Valentinian.
Artifacts from the excavations, including the socle
for the statue of Claudius, are exhibitcd in the Musée du
Haubergier at Senlis.
III (1958) 246-49,
886-90; F. Amanieux, “Présentation des fouilles de Senlis,” Mémoires et Compte-rendus de la Société d'Histoire et d'archéologie de Senlis
(1964-66) LI-LIII; M. Roblin, “Cités ou citadelles? Les enceintes romaidu Bas Empire d'aprés l'exemple de Senlis,” REA
67 (1965) 368-91.