(Vienne) Isère, France.
Narbonensis, a bridge site in a bend of the Rhône, dominated by five hills. On the left bank of the river are the
Gère pass and the alluvial terraces of the Gère and the
Rhône; on the right bank the Rhône foothills lead to the
Gier valley and the W. Hence it was a meeting-place for
trade routes from the Rhône to the Loire (Strab. 4.1.2
14): the E-W road ran from the Alps to the Massif
Central, and the S-N road followed the Rhône on the
left bank and crossed it at Vienne to avoid the marshes
in the Lyon area.
When Gaul was independent, the Allobroges had two
settlements on the left bank at Vienne. The oppidum-refuge was on the Sainte-Blandine hill, where material
from Iron Age III was found from 1895 to 1955; the
trading-post was lower, on the banks of the Gère. Here
a fragment of an Attic cup of the early 4th c. was discovered in 1968 in a stratified site; 11 strata, from the 4th c. B.C. to the end of the 1st c., were identified. Two layers showing traces of fire and destruction probably
mark the attack of the Cimbri and Teutoni in 105 B.C.,
then the revolt of the Allobroges in 62-61 B.C. and its
repression. Vienna was conquered by Rome in 121 B.C.
and absorbed into the Narbonensis province. Caesar
passed through it in 58 and 52, and made it a colony
under Roman law. In 43 a revolt of the Allobroges uprooted the Roman citizens, who left to found the colony of Lyon; Vienna lost its rights. Augustus restored them, and in A.D. 40 Caligula made the city a colony with full
rights: colonia Iulia Augusta Florentia Vienna. It soon
became prosperous, and in his speech to the Senate in
47-48 Claudius described it as “ornatissima ecce colonia
ualentissimaque Viennensium.” Martial called it “pulchra
Vienna” and Ausonius praised its opulence. Capital of
the Viennois diocese from the reign of Diocletian on, and
of the Viennois province from the reign of Constantine,
it is given the title of metropolis in the Notitia Galliarum
11.3; it was then the second Gallic city, after Trèves, and
it remained so until superseded by Arles at the end of
the 4th c. After suffering in the Germanic invasion of
275, the city was seized by the Burgundians ca. 468 and
became one of their royal residences.
Vienna had three successive surrounding walls. The
1st c. wall, which Augustus presented to the city in 16-15
B.C., measured 7250 m (the longest in Gaul) and gave
the city an area of over 200 ha. This impressive fortification had 54 towers 8-12 m in diameter surrounding
the five hills: Mont Salomon, Mont Arnaud, Sainte-Blandine, Saint-Just, and Pipet in the middle, overlooking the theaters. A 1 km length on Mont Salomon still stands 4-5 m high and 2.5 m thick, built of quarry stones
with gates of large blocks. In the 4th or late 3d c., after
the invasion of 275, a second, much smaller wall was
erected (1920 m), enclosing only the heart of the city—Mont Pipet and the middle and upper parts of the deposit mound of the Gère, an area of 36 ha. It survives in four places and one can see the opus-mixtum, a mixture of quarry stones and brick. In the Middle Ages a third wall was built, which at first followed the same line, but later was enlarged to NE and SW.
Chief among the well-preserved major monuments is
the Temple of Augustus and Livia in the city center, near
the crossroads of the cardo and decumanus; it can be
compared with the Maison Carrée at Nimes. Dedicated
first to Rome and Augustus in the emperor's lifetime,
and then, under Claudius, to the Divine Augustus and
Divine Livia, it later underwent another modification:
the inscriptions, of which traces can be seen on the frieze
and architrave (nail holes where the bronze letters were
attached), are subject to debate. The dimensions of the
temple (23.85 x 14.25 m) are nearly the same as those
of the Maison Carrée. Hexastyle and partly peripteral,
it has a flight of 12 steps, a pronaos with two intercolumniations and a cella against the rear wall.
Not far from the temple are the theater and odeum:
Vienne and Lyon are the only cities in Gaul to possess
two such theaters. The theater, discovered and restored
between 1922 and 1938, is built against the W flank
of Mont Pipet. With a diameter of 130.4 m and space
for 13,500 spectators, it is the largest Gallic theater
after that of Autun. The cavea has two maeniana and
46 tiers; the first maenianum is divided into four cunei
by five flights of steps, the second into ten, with as many
vomitoria. A portico around the top was reached by
double stairways built against the outer wall. In the
axis of the theater stood a temple (13.85 x 8.8 m) dedicated to Apollo (a tripod and capitals with serpentiform
volutes are in the Musée Saint-Pierre). In the lower part
of the cavea four low seats of white marble were separated from the rest by a balustrade of green cipollino.
The orchestra was paved with yellow and pink marble
slabs; it had two entrances 5.2 m wide to N and S, which
served the cavea stairways and two foyers adjacent to
the stage. The stage (72 x 5 m) has the customary three
doors at the back. The pulpitum has seven semicircular
and rectangular niches, and above them a frieze decorated with reliefs (satyrs' heads, lions, mastiffs, a bull, panthers, ibexes).
The theater can be dated from the Augustan period.
Nearby, on a slight rise to the S and perpendicular to it
is an odeum from the period of Hadrian, similar to that
at Lyon but less well preserved. Excavated in 1960, it
includes a cavea hollowed out of the hillside, its floor
covered with a layer of masonry to receive the tiers. The
orchestra was decorated with marble slabs which have
disappeared, but their traces can be seen in the tile mortar covering the floor. The substructures of the stage building are still visible. In front is a pit for the curtain, worked by a mechanism of which some elements remain.
Several pieces of decorative sculpture have been found,
including fragments of the pulpitum frieze, an altar base
ornamented with foliated scrolls and rams' heads, and
the fragment of the bust of an emperor (young Nero?).
The whole structure was 73 m in diameter and could
accommodate 3000 people. A fragment of an inscription
bearing ODE, marks the first appearance in Latin epigraphy of the word odeum.
Vienna had a third theater, part of a complex of
buildings attributed to the cult of Magna Mater. Near
the theaters, on the site of the old hospital, the following
buildings have been excavated: first, a rectangular (15.9
x 10.6 m) temple with a flight of seven steps and a
podium supporting the pronaos and cella. Apparently
dating from Claudius' reign, it was then embellished
with mosaics in the 2d c. and enlarged (18.5 x 10.6 m) in
the late 2d or early 3d c.; the mosaics were covered with
three layers of stones and a layer of limestone slabs,
making a new pavement for the raised podium. Adjacent
to this temple is an underground room with pools (purification chamber?), then to the E three little rooms with
hypocausts and a number of pools connected by piping
systems. Next to the rooms with the hypocausts is a
small building that may have been used for initiations.
These rooms seem to have been linked by an underground passage to a building consisting of curved tiers enclosed by three long blind walls, and facing a stage built of large cut stones. Several inscriptions, reliefs, and
carvings suggest a theater reserved for the mysteries of Kybele.
There was also a circus, located in 1903-7 on the banks
of the Rhône S of the city. Built of masonry at the beginning of the 2d c. (455.2 x 118.4 m), it must have
taken the place of a smaller monument made of wood.
It was used until the end of the 4th c. and then disappeared, except for the pyramid known as L'Aiguille
which adorned the center of the spina. The pyramid
(23.35 m high) consists of a square base with an arch
cut on each face, on which was built a pyramidal spire
of 24 courses of cut stones. Apparently unfinished (some
decoration on the base is merely rough-hewn), the monument dates from the time the circus was restored, after the invasion of 275.
Separated from the Kybele theater by a paved street
is a monumental double arcade that goes back to the
2d c. Recent excavations indicate it should be related
The Capitolium may have stood on Mont Pipet. There
are no traces of it, but in excavations ca. 1935 a castrum
of the Late Empire was revealed: a rectangle (95 x 87 m)
closed to the W by a semicircular wall that gives the
complex the plan of a basilica. The entrance is to the E,
through a semicircular arched doorway. Built of small
quarry stones with bands of brick, it dates from the
beginning of the 4th c. and was enclosed within the
surrounding wall built in the Late Empire. In the same
period the city must have had two palaces: a palatium,
the residence and offices of the vicarius, and a praetorium for the provincial governor. Neither has been located.
The general plan of the streets and the orientation of
the monuments changed in different periods. Beneath the
temple in the Kybele quarter the 1st c. B.C. buildings are
oriented obliquely to the temple axis, but from the reign
of Claudius on the orientations are clearly N-S and E-W
(modern streets frequently follow the ancient plan). The
decumanus maximus ended at the bridge over the Rhône,
the cardo maximus led to a narrow passage between the
river and the Bâtie-Montsaléon hill N of the city. They
crossed near the Temple of Augustus and Livia, in the
forum. Many traces of the decumani and cardines have been found.
A number of houses of the classical type have been
uncovered in different places, many of them with mosaic
floors. Among the most recent discoveries is a house S
of the underground room in the Kybele quarter, across
a narrow street. A gold and jade necklace from the 2d c.
was found in one of the rooms. A villa in the Place Saint-Pierre, excavated in 1967, contained frescos and mosaics, including the mosaic of the victorious athletes.
The city received water through a system of at least
10 aqueducts, five parallel to each other on the left bank
of the Gère. All of them began in the region E of Vienne.
Many remains have been located. The water-tower, where
four of the aqueducts ended, was near Saint-André-le-Haut. The oldest date from the beginning of the 1st c., other more complicated ones from the 2d c. At least one, dating from the first half of the 1st c., was erected, according to the inscriptions, by private enterprise.
The official city with its public buildings spread out
on the left bank of the Rhône, but from the 1st c. on
the chief residential section developed on the right bank,
at the end of the bridge linking the two city centers. The
bridge, built of cut stones, had five arches and was decorated with dolphins of gilded bronze (now in the municipal museum).
At least three complexes developed on the right bank:
a residential quarter at Saint-Romain-en-Gal (see below),
a port, and some baths. The port, with its docking basins
and quays, was discovered in 1964-65 on the site of the
modern Olympic swimming pool. Behind it to the W is
the Palace of Mirrors, actually a complex of sumptuous
bath buildings. (Among the works of art found there are
a Nemesis-Tyche, the crouching Venus now in the Louvre,
and a torso of Venus.) The buildings extended over an
area more than 116 m long and 100 m wide; they included a large frigidarium with two pools, underground piping systems, and to the E a garden esplanade ending in two great semicircular apses. The other parts of the
monument have not been excavated.
It is not known where the first Christian community
had its meeting-place, but 10 Christian buildings from
the Late Empire and Early Middle Ages have been located, only one of which is inside the 4th c. rampart. The earliest place of worship was perhaps in the Place Aristide-Briand, where two subterranean rooms have
been discovered: one of them is square (4 x 4 m) and
vaulted, and leads into another smaller room (3 x 3 m),
also vaulted, with an apse to the S. The only church
inside the city was that of the Sept Frères Macchabées,
which at some time from the 4th c. on became the
cathedral. A rectangular building (23 x 16 m) with three
aisles and oriented E-W, it took the name of Saint-Maurice in the early 8th c.
Early churches outside the rampart include SS Gervais
and Protais S of the city (5th c. on); around it lay a
necropolis where ca. 100 tombs have been excavated.
The church was destroyed in the 8th c. by the Saracens
and never rebuilt. To the N lay Saint-Sévère (5th c.;
some remains can be seen), and Notre-Dame-d'Outre-Gère, known from three inscriptions of the 5th-6th c.
The finds are housed in three museums. The small
objects (pottery, bronzes, bones, and tools) are mainly
in the municipal museum. The Musée Saint-Pierre, in
the church of the same name, contains the mosaics and
sculpture (statue of Nemesis-Tyche and the bronze statue said to be that of Pacatianus), the reliefs, and capitals. In the cloister of Saint-Andr&é-le-Bas are the later
monuments and Christian inscriptions.
A residential quarter of Vienna
on the right bank of the Rhône, excavated since 1967.
Houses, workshops, and commercial buildings are
grouped around three streets, one of which is a part
of the route to Lugdunum. These three streets, one at
right angles to the others, have been excavated along a
150-200 m length. The pavements of all three are intact
(large polygonal blocks of granite), and each one has a
portico on one side. A sidewalk of large slabs covers a
deep drain designed to carry off excessive water from
the soil. The sewers (1.7-2 m high) are vaulted and follow the street plan. At the crossing of the N-S and E-W roads is a semicircular nymphaeum, projecting into the street.
Twelve peristyle villas have been partially excavated.
In some the atrium, which serves chiefly as a reception
room, is raised to avoid the damp ground. The walls,
which are very thick, are strengthened with relieving
arches. Between two of the buildings, instead of party
walls there are walls separated by drainage pipes. The
peristyles or garden-courts have three-lobed pools; the
lobes are horseshoe-shaped, and the living rooms are on
two sides only. The many fragments of marble and
mosaics found there indicate that these were luxurious
houses. Over 20 mosaics have been located in an area
of almost 400 sq. m. Few sculptures have been found,
but there are some capitals, Corinthian or decorated with
aquatic foliage, statue fragments, and a stele to the god
Next to the houses are three commercial establishments. One is a small market, at least one of whose
rooms was used to store goods that had to be kept dry
(grain or salt). Its basement is filled with rows of earthenware jars placed necks down, tips up, so as to create
a vacuum. Also on the W side of the quarter, but farther
N, is an immense warehouse; its huge rooms open on
a wide central avenue leading to a peristyle courtyard
with two fountains and a U-shaped pool. This warehouse
served as both a trading center and a meeting place for
the guilds (attested at Vienne by inscriptions). On the
other side of the N-S street is a market; its 12 rooms
(workshops and shops) are arranged on either side of
a central passageway opening on two streets.
Next to the market on the N and between the same
two streets is an industrial establishment. Five large pools,
exceptionally well preserved, two drying areas, and an
extremely complex piping system, suggest that it is a
fullonica—apparently, judging from its size, on an industrial scale.
The abundance and variety of the finds indicate great
activity: weavers' counterweights, stamped lead pipes,
engraved glasses, pottery of all sorts, appliqued medallions, Allobrogian pottery, coins, and objects of iron, bronze, and bone.
Contrary to the accepted view that Vienna did not
spread out on the right bank of the Rhône until the 2d
c., these latest excavations show that this section and its
street plan go back to the beginning of the 1st c. The
2d c., however, was the period of its greatest prosperity,
and it lasted until the early 3d c. (no coins have been
found later than Caracalla).
There is a temporary storehouse for the finds on the
P. Schneyder, Histoire des antiquités de
la ville de Vienne en Dauphiné (n.d.); id., Nouvelles
. . . (1785); H. Bazin, Vienne et Lyon gallo-romains
(1891); A. Bruhl, “Vienna,” RE
ser. 2, 16
(1958) 2113-28; Grenier, Manuel
III-IV (1958-60); G.
Chapotat, La croisée de Vienne
(1959); id., “Le problème des enceintes successives de Vienne depuis Ia conquête romaine jusqu'au Bas-Empire,” Celticum
6, Actes du 3e coll. intern. d'etudes gauloises
, suppl. Ogam
86 (1963) 307-22; M. Leglay & A. Bruhl, “Informations,” Gallia
(1960-70); A. Pelletier, “De la Vienne gauloise à la Vienne romaine: essai d'étude stratigraphique,” Cahiers Rhodaniens
13 (1966) 144-54; id., Vienne gallo-romaine de la conquête aux invasions alamanniques
(forthcoming); id., “Vienne gallo-romaine de 275 à 468
apr. J.C.,” Bull. des Amis de Vienne
Monuments: E. Bizot, Découverte d'un cirque antique
(Isère) (1910); J. Cottaz, “Notes relatives au
castrum de Pipet,” Rhodania
(1935) 72-88; P. Wuilleumier et al., Le cloître de Saint-André-le-Bas à Vienne
(1947); M. Faure, Vienne, ses monuments chrétiens
(1948); J. Formigé, Le théâtre romain de Vienne
(1950); E. Will, La sculpture romaine au Musée lapidaire de
(1952); C. Picard, “Le théâtre des mystères de Cybèle-Attis à Vienne et les théâtres pour représentations
sacrées à travers le monde méditerranéen,” CRAI
(1955) 229-48; A. France-Lanord, “La statue de bronze reconstituée dite de Pacatianus au musée de Vienne,” MonPiot
51 (1960); A. Pelletier, Vienne gallo-romaine de 275 à
468 après J.C. Etude critique des sources
G. Lafaye, “Mosaïque de Saint-Romainen-Gal,” RA
(1892); M. Leglay & S. Tourrenc, Saint-Romain-en-Gal, quartier urbain de Vienne gallo-romaine