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VESUNNA PETRUCORIORUM (Périgueux) Dordogne, France.

Oppidum of the Petrucorii, a federation of tribes organized into a sovereign state, which answered Vercingetorix' call to arms. After the Roman conquest the city, following the customary pattern of Romanization, was moved down from the hill and set up in the valley of the Isle, protected by a bend in the river. Becoming part of Augustan Aquitania in 27, it flourished until the invasion of 276 when it became a reduced castrum of 6 ha, girded with ramparts made of the stones of destroyed monuments.

Claudius had linked this free city to the tribus Quirina; it was the administrative and religious capital of the region, its public and private monuments displaying the wealth characteristic of the magnificent imperial cities.

The settlement grew up around the indigenous sanctuary of Tutela Vesunna, the central cella of which, shaped like a round tower (21 m in diameter, 27 m high), has been preserved. The cella stood on a paved podium with a colonnade encircling it, save for a stairway 9.6 m wide that led down to an inner courtyard (141 x 122 m) with religious buildings on every side (excavated since 1964). South of the temple was the forum (195 x 100 m), excavated 1908-13 and yielding many architectural fragments. The amphitheater, built by A. Pompeius Dumnomotus, praefectus fabrum, was N of the temple; a few stumps can be seen in a public park.

Residential architecture is represented by the Great Villa with its polyfoil impluvium, and the villa of the Rue des Bouquets (3000 sq. m excavated since 1959), which contains some important frescos, with geometric, animal, and flower motifs.

Long sections of the castrum rampart can still be seen: the Mars Gate (Porte de Mars), Norman Gate (Porte Normande), and part of the Château Barrière. The principal architectural and epigraphic finds are housed in the municipal museum.


P. Barrière, Vesunna Petrucoriorum, histoire d'une petite ville à l'époque gallo-romaine (1930); G. Lavergne, Histoire de Périgueux (1945); Grenier, Manuel III 1 (1958) 440ffPI; J. Coupry, “Informations,” Gallia 21, 2 (1963) 514; 23, 2 (1965) 422; 25, 2 (1967) 346; 27, 2 (1969) 358.


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