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LES BOLARDS Côte d'Or, France.

At Nuits Saint Georges, ca. 20 km from Dijon, the remains of a Gallo-Roman vicus covering ca. 10 ha. Three km W of a major Roman road (Lyon-Chalon-Langres-Trêves), the vicus is on the northernmost boundary between Eduens and Lingons. It was a center of commerce and manufacture related to religious sanctuaries, which attracted crowds of pilgrims. Apparently these sanctuaries were directly connected with the therapeutic effects of the mineral hot springs at Courtavaux ca. 2 km away at Premeaux.

Despite the fact that the site has provided an almost inexhaustible amount of material for more than a century, epigraphy has so far given no clue to the ancient name of the Les Bolards region, which lies on a bend in the Meuzin river. The first remains were discovered in 1836, but not until 1964 was organized restoration of the vicus begun, using aerial photography. Stratification uncovered six stages, from the 1st c. B.C. to the beginning of the 5th c. A.D.: a very dense layer of Gallic occupation (Iron Age); an early Gallo-Roman habitation, which flourished during the Julio-Claudian and Flavian dynasties and reached its apogee under the Antonines; a layer of demolition corresponding to the destruction contemporaneous with the disturbed reign of Septimius Severus. During this period began the decline of the vicus, destroyed during the invasions. More than 700 coins found at the site recount its history, from the time of the Gauls to the reign of Arcadius.

To date, excavation has uncovered a decumanus, a cardo, a street provided with gutters and lined with artisans' or merchants' shops, a cellar, its floor paved with six large rectangular tiles, and its walls pierced with niches (ca. A.D. 98-138); a 2d c. cellar with holes for seven amphoras. Many rubbish heaps and eight perfectly constructed wells yielded an important cache of pottery from Gallic workshops (La Graufesenque, Lezoux). There is evidence of ritual sacrifice in the layers of bones, an altar, a ritual knife, a libation cup, an ex voto of oolithic limestone (a hand holding an offering of fruit and flowers), a little stele of Epona, a head of a mother goddess, a stele of a man suffering from ophthalmia, a bronze statuette of Minerva. In the same area were found sanctuary rooms with monumental entries: two stylobates and the shaft of a column, a pilaster support, mosaic debris, painted plasterwork. Also there is the storehouse, or favissa, of a maker of ex votos. On the site of one shop are statuettes in the faience of the Allier region representing Mercury; the mother goddess, Venus, and equestrian figures. An important Mithraeum (all its mutilated sculptures now in the archaeological museum at Dijon) has been uncovered.

On exhibition in the belltower of Nuits Saint Georges is a collection of intaglios, jewels, toilet articles, ceramics, bronzes, funerary or votive stelai, and coins.

In 1969, excavation was extended toward the thermo-mineral springs. An apsidal building was uncovered, and in its center a white marble basin, covered with pink plaster and provided with a run-off channel. Aerial photography has shown that it was part of a large group of substructures for which exploration is planned.


B. Thevenot, “La station antique des Bolards,” Gallia 6 (1948) 289-347; R. Martin, “Informations arcéeologiques,” Gallia 24 (1966) 380; 26 (1968) 482; B. Planson & A. Lagrange, “La statuette de Minerve des Bolards,” RA (1970).

Work on the Dijon-Beaune highway since 1972 has revealed the important necropolis, including a large number of infant burials in half-round tiles called imbrices. There are also stelai recording the activities of the deceased.


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