(Carpentras) Vaucluse, France.
Chief town of an arrondissement on the left
bank of the Auzon river, 25 km NE of Avignon. Capital
of the Gallic tribe of the Memini, neighbors of the Cavares and Voconces (referred to by Pliny in his list of
Latin oppida in Narbonese Gaul: Carpentorate Meminorum, HN
3.36). A trading city and great marketplace, a
political and religious center, it became a Roman colony
under the name colonia Julia Meminorum, inscribed in
the tnibus Voltinia at the beginning of the Empire (epitaph of a municipal official in the Musée Lapidaire in
Avignon, and inscription to the guardian spirit of the
colony in the Musée de Carpentras). At the beginning of
the 2d c. Ptolemy mentions the capital of the Memini
as Forum Neronis, a name improvised to supplant the native place name. The latter may have been related to the
local god Carpentus, and Carpentorate could mean the
fortress of this god, the city where he is supposed to
have had his sanctuary. The Roman city was connected
by Cabelio (Cavaillon) to the Via Domitiana, by Arausio
(Orange) to the great road of the Rhône Valley, and
by a secondary road to Vasio, the capital of the Voconces.
Excavations in 1965 in the Légue quarter, on a hill
dominated by a plateau 2 km E of Carpentras, indicate
that this area was probably the original home of the
Memini. Foundations of huts hollowed out of the clay
were discovered. They contained imported pottery: numerous fragments of cups with handles on the sides
and gray Phokaian pottery bowls with wavy decorations,
also local products with the same decoration, imitating
the Phokaian vases, and urns and basins of rough clay.
Campanian pottery is also represented, as well as some
bronze coins with the bull of Massalia.
From the Roman period, Carpentras possesses a triumphal arch, in the courtyard of the Palais de Justice,
very similar to that at Saint-Rémy-de-Provence. The
arch has a single bay, and the archivolt springs from
pilasters fluted and cabled for one-third of their height.
Their capitals are composite. At each corner is a broken
piece of a fluted column. The ends carry bas-reliefs symbolizing the conquest of the country by the Romans.
Two captives, their hands tied behind their backs, flank
a trophy to which they are chained. On the E end one
prisoner wears a Phrygian cap, a short tunic and long
coat, and trousers wrapped around his legs by interlaced straps. The other is bearded, has naked arms and
legs, and wears only a fur coat to his knees. The trophy
is a tree trunk holding two horns surmounted by two
quivers; two swords hang from the trunk. At the base
of the trophy are a two-headed axe and a dagger with
short blade and twisted haft. A round leather helmet,
without a visor, hangs from a branch above each captive. The bas-relief on the W end differs in a few details.
The arch dates from the 1st c. A.D., like that of Orange,
the city was destroyed by the Ostrogoths, the Franks,
and the Burgundians during the 5th and 6th c. A.D.
I. Gilles, Précis historique et chronologique des monuments triomphaux dans les Gaules
(1873); J. Liabastres, Histoire de Carpentras, ancienne
capitale du Comtat Venaissin
(1891); J. Sautel, La
(1929); id. et al., Vaucluse histoire
(1944); H. Eydoux, La France antique
G. Barruol, “Une peuplade de la confédération Cavare:
les Memini,” Provence Historique
13 (1963); “Informations,” Gallia
25, 2 (1967).