ALEBAECE REIORUM APOLLINARIUM
de Haute-Provence, France.
Capital of the
tribe of the Reii, whose territory extended from the
middle Durance to the Verdon gorges, the Celto-Ligurian oppidum of Alebaece was probably on the hill of
Saint-Maxine, which rises above the modern town. The
Roman town (Plin. HN
3.36) founded under Augustus,
whose official name is revealed by inscriptions to have
been Colonia Julia Augusta Apollinaris Reiorum, lay for
the most part in the small plain at the juncture of three
Situated at the E extremity of the Provincia Narbonensis and next to the Alpes Maritimae, it was a crossroads
of secondary highways. Located as it was, however,
away from the great transalpine highways and in the
center of the S Alps, the town was above all un administrative and religious center whose role has been made
increasingly clear by explorations since 1963. The wide-ranging activity of its first bishops, Maximus (434-460)
and Faustus (461-493), both former abbots of Lérins,
made it an important center of Christianity under the
Late Empire; it was the meeting-place for a famous
The extent of the site (at least 15 ha) has been established with relative precision. The remains of a temple,
bath house, residential quarter, and an Early Christian
cathedral complex have been uncovered, and the ground
plan of the city appears to have been regular and oriented towards the four cardinal points. In the Late Empire, a wall (no longer visible) surrounded the town.
Of the tetrastyle temple of large-block construction, only
the E facade remains, along with part of the podium.
It is uncertain to whom it was dedicated; it may have
been a municipal monument to Rome and Augustus, or,
more likely, the main unit of a sanctuary of Apollo, for
the surname Apollinaris borne by the site suggests that
the cult of the healing god was important in the town.
Support for this hypothesis comes from the fact that
there is a large spring near the temple, and an inscription
to Aesculapius was discovered there in the 17th c.
In another sector of the town, at Pré de Foire, recent
explorations have revealed the remains of large and complex public baths, as well as a group of expensive private houses arranged one above the other on the S
side of the valley of the Colostre and served by a network of alleys.
The cathedral complex, one of the few of Narbonese
Gaul, dates from the 5th c. or earlier. It was built in the
S half of the city on top of public buildings from the
Early Empire which were probably destroyed at the end
of the 3d c. along with the other buildings in this sector.
The baptistery, which still rises to its full height though
restored and remodeled, was constructed with reused
Roman materials on the site of a former bath house.
To the E of the baptistery, and on its axis, was the original cathedral, Notre-Dame du Siège, which was completely destroyed at the end of the 16th c. This basilica,
which stood in a large monumental complex, consisted
of a nave and two side aisles separated by rows of reused Roman columns, and a deep semicircular apse.
The objects discovered are preserved on the site in
the Archaeological Museum.
J. J. M. Féraud, Histoire de la ville de
(1885); M. Provence, Catalogue du Musée Lapidaire de Riez
; H. Leclerc, “Riez,” Dictionnaire
d'Archéologie Chrétienne et de Liturgie
cols. 2423-26; P. A. Février, “Riez,” Villes épiscopales de Provence
(1954) 39-43; id., Le développement urbain en Provence de l'époque romaine à la fin du XIVe siècle
; G. Barruol, “Un centre administratif et religieux des Alpes du Sud: Riez,” Archéologia
; id., Les peuples préromains du sud-est de la
Gaule. Etude de géographie historique
14 (1956) 55-63; 20 (1962) 661-63; 22 (1964) 554-55I
; 25 (1967) 392-95PI
; 28 (1970)
; 30 (1972) 533-34I