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NASIUM Naix-aux-Forges and Saint-Amand-sur-Ornain, Meuse, France.

A large center, no doubt the richest of the civitas Leucorum. It is mentioned by Ptolemy (2.9.12) and also by the Antonine Itinerary; it appears on the Peutinger Table (Nasio). Nasium is situated on the course of the Ornain, at the foot of the prehistoric oppidum of Boviolles, at the crossroads of two large roads, one coming from Andematunnum (Langres), the other going from Durocortorum (Reims) to Tullum (Toul).

During the course of the 19th c. excavations were carried out on the site of the ancient town. They brought to light the foundations of many public buildings, houses, and villas, some of which were decorated with marble and wall paintings. There were mosaics, one of which, depicting the rape of Europa, was almost immediately destroyed, only a drawing surviving. There were also public baths, a system of water channels, and a smithy. Today there is no trace in situ of these discoveries. The excavations at least established that the Gallo-Roman town had been mostly destroyed during the invasions of the 3d c. Most of the sculptures, the inscriptions, and the more valuable objects discovered during the course of these investigations and afterward, as a result of various public works projects, were taken to the Bar-le-Duc museum. These included fragments of architecture and ornamental sculpture (capitals, cornices, friezzs), funerary stelae, and above all a statue depicting a “mother goddess” (height: 1.57 m) sitting in a backed chair, with fruit in her lap and accompanied by two other women and a dog.

Other ancient remains from Nasium are kept at the museums at Metz (a votive altar dedicated to Epona and the tutelary spirit of the Leuci), Verdun (stelae and inscriptions), and Nancy (a bronze domestic altar adorned with an owl, a bust of Hygeia, and a tutelary spirit, all likewise in bronze; a monumental letter R, apparently belonging to a metal inscription; etc.). The site also produced two very rich hoards of coins: one of 300 aurei was dispersed; the other contained gold jewelry, including a necklace adorned with a cameo of Julia Domna, as well as Severan aurei, and is preserved at the Cabinet des Médailles of the Bibliothèque Nationale. Of the innumerable small finds (statuettes, pottery, cameos, and intaglios, gold and bronze rings, coins), some were kept in museums, mostly at Bar-le-Duc, but the great majority were sold to private collectors.

Since 1967 new archaeological investigations have been conducted on the Mazeroy plateau overlooking the ancient town. They have resulted in the discovery of a large, square (24 m to a side), raised monument, probably a temple. It must have been very carefully built and adorned to judge from the architectural and decorative fragments which have been collected: marble slaps and moldings, sculptured fragments apparently belonging to a decorative frieze, especially pieces depicting small human figures, animals (birds, rabbits, a bull) among twining vegetal motifs. A portico extended around the building; its walls have been found as well as the bases of the colonnade. Further exploration of this edifice is now in progress.


Cl-F. Denis, Essai archéologique sur Nasium (1818); F. Liénard, Archéologie de la Meuse (1881) I 9-36MPI; L. M. Werly, “Note sur diverses antiquités récemment découvertes à Naix,” Bull. arch. du Comité des travaux historiques (1885); M. Toussaint, “Le long de l'Ornain: Naix-aux-Forges et son passé gallo-romain” in Pays Lorrain (1937) 106-24I; id., Répertoire archéologique Meuse (1946) 13-40; R. Billoret in Gallia 26 (1968); 28 (1970); 30 (1972).


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