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The name is of Gallic origin, and the site is mentioned in the Geography of Ptolemy, the Antonine Itinerary, and the Peutinger Table, along with the cities of Lugdunensis Secunda, as the chief city of the Aulerci Eburovices. In the 4th c. A.D. the old name was replaced by that of the tribe: the Notitia provinciarum refers only to the civitas Ebroicorum, which after the region was Christianized by St. Taurinus became a diocesan see which exists to this day.

The site lies at the bottom of the Iton valley. The left side of the valley, which is very steep, shows traces of a prehistoric settlement (spur of the Câtelier with trench and earth rampart), but the area is too small to have held a population of any size. The other side was less steep and conditions were more favorable. The original settlement was probably on a natural terrace on this side, around what is now the Boulevard Pasteur; Gallic coins have been found here. The settlement spread rapidly towards the river so that the whole of the Mediolanum site, ca. 100 ha, seems to have been inhabited by the beginning of the 1st c. A.D. The town was built of light materials and was not very densely settled.

Then, for political reasons, probably the same reasons that caused the fall of Gisacum, the Romans made Mediolanum an administrative capital in the second half or end of the 1st c.; probably a town-planning scheme contributed to the change. The marshy parts of the valley were filled in. A conduit (it still exists as the canal de la reine Jeann) piped the waters of the Iton, a few km upstream, over an earth-bank to the foot of the hill. A system of secondary conduits served the whole of the lower city and also carried the waste water back to the river. From that time on the center of the city's activity was at the bottom of the valley, around the forum and near the baths, while the theater was erected on the hillside halfway from the original site. Roads to Lisieux, Rouen, Amiens, Paris and Sens, Chartres, Le Mans, and Tours originally ran around the terrace settlement, but when the city was changed the roads were changed also, and the road junction was apparently aligned on the axes of the new forum.

Mediolanum flourished in the 2d and 3d c. In the city center (now the quarter of the Cité de l'Evreux) were the forum and some large buildings: these are still buried 4-5 m deep and little is known about them. Traces of a bath building and a floor covered with a geometric mosaic have been found in the Rue de la Petite Cité, but the best evidence of the importance and quality of the monuments is the architectural fragments (capitals) that were reused in the surrounding wall. Some fairly large buildings have also been located, with clay walls covered with frescos and built on masonry foundations. Most of the houses were built of light materials; stone was used only for public buildings. The city owed its prosperity not only to its administrative and political importance but also to industry: the quantities of iron slag found in digs are evidence of metalworking, while an inscription referring to the fullers' guild and a fine fulling tank, discovered recently, indicate cloth-making. The Iton boasted a small port; olive oil from Baetica and ware from potteries in central Gaul were imported in quantity.

The city was almost completely destroyed by fire in the Germanic invasions of the late 3d c. It was then, presumably, that the great heap of treasure found in 1889 on the site of the modern Hôtel de Ville was buried: 300 kg of coins, the most recent bearing the likeness of the emperor Probus (A.D. 276-282). As a defense against further invasion a fortified keep ca. 8 ha in area was built in the city center, which remained a key element in the defense of Evreux to the end of the Middle Ages. It was surrounded by a rampart with one gate and a moat supplied with water from the conduit. The erection of this rampart made it necessary to change the line of the main roads, which from then on ran to N and W outside the walls. In the 4th c. the site shrank considerably and its population, now probably much smaller, took refuge within the fortified city or close to it. The monuments whose materials had been reused in the rampart were not rebuilt.

Mediolanum has now almost completely vanished: only the rampart can be seen today. It forms a quadrangle ca. 1 km around; some large wall sections are still standing on the S, W, and N sides but none of the round towers that flanked it has survived. The wall is 3 m thick. The lower courses are made of reused materials (sarcophagi, large blocks of masonry, architectural elements) laid without mortar; they are topped with a rubble-work of flint faced with opus-quadratum with bands of tile.

The ruins of the theater are ca. 500 m SE of the city; known in mediaeval times as the Castel Sarrazin, they served for a long time as a quarry. They were excavated in 1843, but later razed by the owner of the property. Dating from Claudius' reign (A.D. 41-54), according to an inscription, the building followed the natural slope. The facade is 75 m long and oriented to the N, the radius of the cavea is 24 m and that of the orchestra 12 m.

The baths lay at the foot of the hill ca. 100 m N of the theater. Their ruins were destroyed at an unknown date, but the foundations have been traced for 75 m. Their size would indicate a monument larger than the baths at Gisacum, and the archaeological context dates them no earlier than Vespasian's reign (A.D. 69-79).

Outside the site is a large area bordering the Sens road, now known as Le Clos-au-Duc. In antiquity it was a cemetery covering several ha, and many incineration burials have been found there. Some Gallo-Roman sarcophagi have been discovered in the same sector but closer to the town. Both caskets and lids are simple and without decoration.


T. Bonnin, Antiquités gallo-romaines des Eburoviques (1860); J. Mathière, La civitas des Aulerci Eburovices a l'époque gallo-romaine (1925); M. Baudot, “Le réseau routier antique du département de l'Eure,” Normannia (1932); id., “Dernières découvertes dans l'Evreux gallo-romain,” Bulletin de la Société normande d'études préhistoriques 24, 4 (1947-48); M. Le Pesant, “Les fouilles de la rue de l'Horloge à Evreux,” Annales de Normandie (1951).


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