(Metz) Moselle, France.
The first known settlement was a Late Bronze Age oppidum that was probably destroyed by fire in the 6th c. B.C.; the site was on
an isolated hill where the Moselle and the Seille meet,
called the Haut de Ste. Croix. The oppidum of the Iron
Age spread farther S and W; it was burnt down during
Ceasar's campaign. Both a place of refuge and an economic and religious center, Divodurum was the chief
town of the city of the Mediomatrici.
The Roman city that replaced it was destroyed by fire
under Tiberius. The site acquired fresh importance when
roads were built from Lyon to Trèves and from Reims
to Strasbourg. Their junction at the foot of the Haut de
Ste. Croix determined the site of the new town: the first
road became the cardo, the second the decumanus, and
a grid system of streets developed. This city was built of
wood and was apparently destroyed again ca. A.D. 70
(troubles at the time of Nero's death). Rebuilt in stone
under the Flavian emperors, it was again destroyed about
the end of the 1st c. During the Pax Romana the city
grew markedly along the N-S road, where remains of
wealthy villas have recently been excavated.
The section built under Trajan had rather splendid
baths on the hillsides, and other public buildings. This
prosperity continued until the mid 3d c., when the city
suffered again, possibly as a result of the invasion of the
Alemanni in 257. Metz built a rampart and became a
castrum, a long, irregular polygon stretching down the
Haut de Ste. Croix to the Hôtel du Gouverneur, crossing
from there to the Tour Camoufle, then touching the hill
again in the St. Martin quarter and the Place des Paraiges. A good part of the city (the E and SE quarters
and Sablon) lay outside the fortification. Again destroyed
in the middle of the 4th c., the city was rebuilt on a
very different plan; it is this topography that has come
down to us through the mediaeval city.
The plan of Metz in the Gallo-Roman era was based
on the cardo, corresponding to the Avenue Serpenoise
and its continuations, and on the decumanus, now the
Foumirue. Besides being at the junction of these two
roads Metz was also favored by its location on the
Moselle, which linked the capital of the Mediomatrici
with Trèves, Coblenz, Cologne, and the Lower Rhine, and
by other roads, one of which went from Metz to Worms
and the Rhine. The site of the forum is still undetermined (possibly the modern Place St. Jacques). The religious center remained on the Haut de Ste. Croix, and
the rest of the city spread out on terraces leading W and
SW toward the Moselle. The discovery of the suburb of
Sablon and its cemeteries confirmed the growth of the
city along the roads to the S. The high point was in the
2d c.; at the end of the 3d c. the threat of invasion forced
the city to withdraw inside its ramparts (3500 m long).
Chief public monuments: 1) the aqueduct bringing
water from Gorze was ca. 22 km long, had a gradient of
22.19 m, and was apparently built in the 1st c. The first
section runs underground from Gorze to Ars-sur-Moselle;
the second, the aqueduct proper, crosses the Moselle between Ars and Jouy (ca. 1100 m long, gradient 4.04 m
at this point); the third section, from Jouy to Metz, is
half underground. Where it crossed the Moselle the aqueduct had a basin at each end linking the parts above and
below ground; the basin functioned as both a purifier and
a regulator. An inscription refers to the receiving and distributing basin, or nympheum, which was assumed to be
at Sablon, but discoveries in 1960-61 near the church
of St. Pierre-aux-Nonnains contradict this. In 1932 part
of the baths was found, and later excavations confirmed
that they occupied a large part of the Haut de Ste. Croix.
2) The basilica was discovered in 1941 during excavation of the church of St. Pierre-aux-Nonnains. Foundations were unearthed, at a depth of 4 m, of a civic building (26 x 31 m) with a rounded apse; erected about 310,
it in turn had replaced other older buildings, including
a potter's workshop containing a kiln, a storage dump
of Belgian ware, and the stamp CASICOS. More foundations, presumably those of a baptistery, were found in
3) The amphitheater at Sablon was completely destroyed, when the goods station was erected at the beginning of this century. Hurried excavations showed it
to be one of the largest of its kind ever built: perimeter
427 m, N-S axis 150 m, small axis 124 m, area 1.43 ha,
estimated number of spectators 25,000, and 76 entrances.
Only a few substructures now exist in the cellars of the
quarter. Also noteworthy is a building (21 x 14 m) in
the courtyard of the old bishop's palace (now a covered
market); it was presumably a workshop or supply depot, of which only some foundations remain.
The Metz museum has archaeological collections.
M. Toussaint, Metz à l'époque gallo-romaine
(1948); J. J. Hatt, “Fouilles stratigraphiques à Metz,” Annuaire de la Société d'Histoire et d'Archcéologie de Lorraine
68 (1958) 35ff; “Fouilles de Metz,” 59 (1959) 5ff.