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NOVIODUNUM (Nyon) Vaud, Switzerland.

In the middle of the N shore of Lake Geneva. The name Colonia Julia Equestris is known from ancient sources (HN 4.106; Ptol. 2.9.10; Ant. It. 348.1; Tab. Peut.) The Celtic name Noviodunum (Not. Gall. 9.5) indicates an oppidum of the Helvetii, no traces of which have yet been discovered. The colonia was founded by Caesar between 50 and 45 B.C. in the SW corner of the Helvetian territory, between the Jura mountains, Lake Geneva and the Aubonne river. The colonists were veterans from the cavalry of various legions. During the 4th-5th c. A.D. the town may have been the seat of a bishop.

The Roman town was larger than the hill area enclosed by the mediaeval walls, but the main roads of the mediaeval town reflect the Roman grid. The site has not been excavated, but a few soundings have identified a (secondary?) forum (ca. 40 x 25 m) built in Flavian times. It was surrounded by cryptoportici, one wing of which perhaps later became a Mithraeum. A building adjacent to this forum, with the remains of a large mosaic of ca. A.D. 200, was probably a bath. Large numbers of amphorae attest the activity of the harbor from the time of Augustus on; Noviodunum was on the main route, by land or lake, from Genava to Vesontio. The Historical Museum is in the castle.


F. Staehelin, Die Schweiz in römischer Zeit (3d ed. 1948) 91-95, 613-14 & index s.v. Equestris; Rev. Hist. Vaudoise 66 (1958) vol. dedicated to Nyon; E. Pelichet, “Fouilles archéologiques à Nyon en 1958,” Jb. Schweiz. Gesell. f. Urgeschichte 47 (1958-59) 117-21P; V. von Gonzenbach, Die römischen Mosaiken der Schweiz (1961) 153-61I; Rev. Hist. Vaudoise 75 (1967) 196.


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