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AUGUSTONEMETUM (Arvemnis, Clermont-Ferrand) Puy-de-Dôme, France.

While Gaul was still independent, an agricultural population lived in the basin where the Tiretaine valley slopes down out of the mountains and opens onto the plain of Limagne. After the Roman conquest the population was urban and settled around a small hill located in the middle of the basin. The town grew until it covered an area of nearly 150 ha and at that time was unwalled.

The crisis of the 3d c. began a period of decline for the town. Depopulated, it was enclosed within narrow, fortified walls, and occupied only the N third of the hilltop (ca. 2.5-3 ha). It opened to the outside by five gates. No remains are left.

Architectural fragments found at the summit of the hill (Place de la Victoire) suggest that there were buildings at that spot, but they have been completely destroyed. Ruins of a monument of large size to the W of the town are described by Gregory of Tours (Hist. Franc., I, 32) as a temple, to which he gave the name of “Vasso,” of Jaude (Vasso Galate). He was probably correct in calling it a temple. The only visible remains of the monument is a wall of ashlar masonry with brick bonding courses and semicircular buttresses (the “Mur des Sarrasins” on the Rue Rameau). This was the N side of a rectangular building erected on a thick beton platform. A mineral water spring 600 m to the SW at Les Roches was frequented by a popular cult. Several thousand wooden votive offerings, carved and uncarved, have been found there. Some 1700 m SW of the central hill on the E slope of Montaudou hill, a wall of ashlar masonry, now 60 in long, may have been the facade wall of a theater. It too is called Mur des Sarrasins.

The town obtained its water ca. 4 km away in the valley of Villars, where sections of an underground aqueduct have been noticed on several occasions. On its exit from this narrow valley, the aqueduct rises to the surface (it is mentioned in the Life of Saint Stremonius, in the 9th or 10th c.). It carried water to the summit of the hillock, from which it was distributed by underground channels. Sections of these channels are preserved under the Place de la Victoire.


A. Tardieu, Hist. de la ville de Clermont-Ferrand, 2 vols. in-fol. (1870-72); A. Audollent, “Clermont gallo-romain,” Faculté des lettres de Clermont-Ferrand, Mélanges littéraires publiés à l'occasion du centenaire de sa création (1910) 103-55; E. Desforges et al., Nouvelles recherches sur les origines de Clermont-Ferrand (1970).


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