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CULARO (Grenoble) Isère, France.

A city of Gallia Narbonensis in the territory of the Allobroges on the Isère. Apparently mentioned by Cicero (Ad fam. 10.23.7): Civarone (for Cularone) ex Allobrogum finibus; cited in the Peutinger Table as Culabone; and by the Geographer of Ravenna (4.27) as Curarore. The Celtic oppidum was probably situated on a hill close to the river. It was a customs post of the Quadragesima Galliarum. Between 288 and 292 a rampart was built to protect the city against the barbarian invasions. Under Gratianus it became Gratianopolis, whence the modern name Grenoble (Not. Gall. 11.5; Sid. Apoll. Epist. 3.14.1).

The surrounding wall was oval and had two gateways, known by their inscriptions (CIL XII, 2229): one, known as the Rome gate (near the Frères Prêcheurs), was called the Gate of Jove; the other, the Vienne gate near the cathedral, was called the Gate of Hercules. They seem to mark an oblique axis oriented nearly E-W; the corresponding N-S road has not yet been found.

Slightly to the N along the Isère, the surrounding wall stood until the city was seized by the Protestant forces of Lesdiguières in 1591. A few fragments can still be seen, especially under the Treille de Stendhal (Jardin de Ville). Its circuit can be traced almost in its entirety, thanks to ancient plans. Several fragments have recently been unearthed: near the cathedral parts of the wall and two towers have been preserved, but in the Rue de la République and Rue Lafayette quarter the fragments were destroyed after excavation. The towers, three of which have been found, are 22-24.4 m apart and 7.8 m in diameter; the foundations are very solid. The walls, 4.5-5 m thick at the bottom, are faced on both sides with small rectangular mortared stones; the core consists of irregular blocks and other material bedded in a mortar of broken tiles. The foundations have four main elements: wooden supports 40-50 cm apart (which make it a wall on piles); above these a regular layer of boulders; then some rubble; and finally a course of flat stones. Outside the wall there was probably a ditch.

The main Christian monument is the Saint-Laurent crypt on the right bank of the Isère. The building has been variously dated: from the late 6th to the late 8th c. Some of the capitals follow Graeco-Roman models, others are clearly Roman, and several columns are made of reused material. A 4th c. Gallo-Roman mausoleum, destroyed at the time of the Lombard invasions in 574, and a burial vault of the same period have also been found.

The museum contains inscriptions, pottery, and architectural and sculptural fragments.


A. Blanchet, Enceintes romaines de la Gaule (1907) 149P; R. Blanchard, Grenoble, étude de géographie urbaine (1912)PI; H. Müller, Les origines de Grenoble (1930)P; Grenier, Manuel I (1931) 413-, 518, 552; R. Girard, “La crypte Saint-Laurent de Grenoble,” CahHistArch 6 (1961) 157-63PI; id., Les remparts gallo-romains de Grenoble (1963)PI; M. Leglay, “Informations,” Gallia 22 (1964) 519; 24 (1966) 509; 29 (1971) 427.


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