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POMPAELO (Pamplona) Navarra, Spain.

Strabo (3.4.10) considered it the chief city of the Vascones. It has been much debated whether it was founded by Pompey. Plutarch (Sert. 21) and Sallust (2.93) relate that in 75 B.C. C. Pompeius, during his struggle with Sertorius, retired to Vascon territory for winter quarters and to provision his troops. He established himself in the vicinity of a Vascon oppidum which would have owed its name and growth to the presence of the Romans. However, nothing definitely proves the foundation of Pompaelo by Pompey, although there is an obvious resemblance of the names; on the contrary the remains excavated in the area of the present cathedral have yielded no evidence earlier than the Empire. Nonetheless, Strabo (3.4.10) calls it the city of Pompey.

Apparently there was a previous settlement on the site of the Roman occupation, but confirmatory data are lacking. The fact is that Pompaelo showed little vigor as a city after Pompey's defeat by Caesar, since Pliny (HN. 3.24), in the mid 1st c. A.D. in describing the Conventus Caesaraugustanus to which Pompaelo belonged, cites it as a stipendiary town. It is named as a station on the Roman road system: Strabo (3.4.10) mentions it as “on the way from Tarraco to the territory of the Vascones . . . to Pompaelo and Oiason.” According to the Antonine Itinerary it is the 18th station on the road from Asturica Augusta (Astorga) to Burdigalia (Bordeaux). St. Isidore mentions it as conquered by the Visigoths (Chr.Gall. 651.664), as does Gregory of Tours (Hist. Franc. II, 29) in reference to its capture by Childebert and Clothar. We know further that it was an episcopal see in the Visigothic period and that King Wamba rebuilt it.

Archaeological material is not abundant and some of it has been lost. There are a few inscriptions, and some objects are in the Navarre Museum, including two kinds of mosaics from different parts of the city. One consists of black and white tesserae with representations of the walls and towers of a citadel and a hippocamp, apparently from the Antonine period. The other, polychrome, from about the mid 2d c., includes a scene of the struggle of Theseus and the Minotaur. There was some bronze sculpture: a female head forming part of a statue or bust presumed to represent Juno, and a headless statue of a woman—presumably Ceres, judging from the ears of grain in her hand. Both pieces have vanished, but are known from photographs. A bronze Mercury and part of a bronze hand suggest the presence of a military encampment. There are also fragments of Corinthian columns and capitals.

Excavations in the area of the present cathedral, thought to be the forum of the ancient city, have produced terra sigillata, Arretine and Hispanic, from the 1st to the 4th c. A.D. Remains of baths have also come to light and much numismatic material, down to the sons of Constantine. It has been conjectured that the size of the city was about that of Caesaraugusta.


M. Angeles Mezquiriz, La excavación estratigrafica de Pompaelo I (1958)PI.


hide References (2 total)
  • Cross-references from this page (2):
    • Strabo, Geography, 3.4.10
    • Pliny the Elder, Naturalis Historia, 3.24
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