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AUGUSTORITUM LEMOVICUM (Limoges) Haute-Vienne, France.

Capital of one of the largest cities of Roman Gaul, the Civitas Leinovicum, in the province of Aquitania. In the Gallic period an oppidum, hypothetically situated on the Puy Saint-Étienne, dominated a ford or ritos on the Vienne; hence the name given to the Augustan city. The first Gallo-Roman city was built on the right bank of the Vienne, on a hillside facing S. Its buildings were erected on terraced levels and aligned on a grid plan.

The cardo ran NW with a 35° decline; it is represented by the axis of the modern Rue Saint-Martial and Rue de l'Hôpital. A bridge spanned the river at the beginning of the cardo. It was destroyed in 1182 and soon rebuilt on the ancient piles; this is the present Pont Saint-Martial. The route to Périgueux and Cahors ran S from the bridge, and the Agrippan Road from Lyon to Saintes cut across the city from E to W. Whether the forum was near what is now the Hôtel de Ville is still conjectural.

In Augustan times a theater stood on the lower part of the hillside not far from the river, E of the cardo. Its seats took advantage of the natural slope and faced S. No visible traces of this monument remain.

In the 2d c., its period of greatest expansion, the settlement spread out over a roughly equilateral triangle 1500 m on each side; its base was formed by the Vienne, from Le Naveix to La Roche au Go, and its apex, to the NW, was the amphitheater, on a point overlooking the town where the Jardin d'Orsay is today. The amphitheater (138 x 116 m) was built about the beginning of the 2d c. of a core of mortared rubble faced with small blocks; its long axis was aligned with the decumani. Its ruins were partially uncovered in 1967. A 1st-2d c. cremation cemetery, which marks the outer limit of the city in this direction, is 200 m away.

A number of underground aqueducts brought the city its water. The Aigoulène aqueduct, from Corgnac, is still in use. Remains of the aqueduct network are still standing, hollowed out of tufa or built of masonry.

Traces of fire and subsequent scattered rebuilding testify to the partial destruction of the city at the time of the invasion of Aquitania, 275-276. No coins in a hoard of over 7000 denarii discovered in 1926 are later than the time of Postumus. After this invasion the core of the settlement was moved to the E, on the Puy Saint-Etienne, inside a smaller, fortified city. The civitas of the late 3d c. was to keep its name throughout the Middle Ages. Its walls were extended in a circle of ca. 1300 m, protecting an area of ca. 12 ha.

Christianity came to Augustorituin in the time of St. Martial, one of the seven bishops sent from Rome to evangelize Gaul in the 3d c. His original tomb was discovered when the old Abbey of Saint-Martial was excavated in 1960. A simple sarcophagus of smooth granite, it was found on the site of an Early Christian cemetery on the NE edge of the city. After the religious peace of Constantine's reign, the cathedral church was built at the main crossroads of the civitas. In the 5th c. it was consecrated to St. Étienne. A find of 200 quinarii of Honorius' reign at the site of the amphitheater confirms that the Vandals passed through the area (presumably causing a fresh wave of destruction) at the very beginning of the 5th c.

The municipal museum of Limoges has some local antiquities, including the wall paintings from a villa of the second half of the 1st c., discovered in 1962 in the Boulevard Gambetta.


A. Grenier, Manuel d'archéologie gallo-romaine III (1958) 250-52, 675-76MP; M.-M. Gauthier, “Première campagne de fouilles dans le ‘Sepulcre’ de Saint-Martial de Limoges,” CahArch 12 (1962) 205-48MPI; J. Perrier, “Carte archéologique de la Gaule romaine,” fasc. 14, “département de la Haute-Vienne” (1964)MPI.


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