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DUROCORTORUM (Reims) Marne, France.

Gallo-Roman city on the N boundary of Champagne, on a flat site bordering on the marshy valley of the Vesle, a tributary of the Aisne that runs N alongside the Montagne de Reims. Durocortorum succeeded a Celtic settlement that was apparently surrounded for several km by a broad, deep trench, with a second circumvallation some 800 m inside. A fair number of traces from the period of independence have been found outside this fortification but practically none inside it, which may suggest that the settlement was not a permanent one. On the other hand, identification of this site with the center of the independent Remi, Caesar's Durocortorum Remorum, is not certain: the latter is often placed 17 km away at Vieux-Reims, a site more than 100 ha in area.

After the conquest the Remi, who were loyal allies of Rome and a federal civitas, built a town on the site of the original oppidum which became one of the leading cities in the province and the residence of the governor of Belgica. However, the earliest known structures, aside from a hypothetical Caesar's camp, appear to lie outside the inner Gallic wall, to the NE and especially the S, in the St. Rémi quarter. A series of cellars and potters' workshops have been found in this section dating from the first half of the 1st c. A.D., and, close by, a necropolis obviously of the same period. At first, new quarters were possibly set up beside the old settlement, and city planning on the Roman model—which involved filling in the trench of the smaller Gallic wall—did not come until a later period, difficult to pinpoint but somewhere between the Flavians and the second half of the 2d c. A.D.

At the height of its prosperity the city whose center occupied the space within the smaller Gallic wall gradually spread out over the area bounded by the outside wall. The cardo, oriented SE-NW, is recognizable (Rue du Barbâtre, Rue de l'Université, Cours A. France), as is the decumanus (Avenue J. Jaurès, Rue Cérès, Rue Carnot, Rue Muirron-Herrick, Rue de Vesle). This plan is confirmed by the four so-called triumphal arches that straddled the two axes at the edge of the monumental quarter forming the city center: to the N the Mars Gate, relatively well preserved; to the S, the arch erroneously called the Bacchus Gate, of which only incomplete traces remain (Rue de l'Université, along with the adjoining section of the Late Empire rampart); and to E and W the two decumanus maximus arches attributed, for no valid reason, to Ceres and Venus. These last two are destroyed, but ancient descriptions and the discovery of some foundations almost certainly locate them.

The secondary cardines and decumani that have been excavated point to an orthogonal plan, although it is not possible to determine the exact size of the blocks. The soil also contained many fragments of water pipes and sewers: at least part of the water supply came from the Suippe through an aqueduct 40 km long.

Local tradition places the forum near the crossroads of the two main axes, and this seems to be confirmed by the presence of a cryptoporticus with three wings. The central wing is much longer than the other two, which are symmetrical. Only one of the latter and the adjacent section of the middle wing have been uncovered. They have two aisles separated by a row of piers, and the interior of the open area was lighted by vents. The walls were decorated with niches and painted. The entrance stairway has recently been found at the end of the lateral wing, along with the beginning of the stairway leading to the upper story, which is completely destroyed. No other public building is preserved, but place names and some ancient references indicate that there was an amphitheater near the decumanus, at the W edge of the city center.

Many chance finds show that the settlement was dense and its domestic architecture fairly luxurious: architectural fragments, especially in the sector called the Three Piers; mosaics (Rue Voltaire, Rue de Mars, Cour de l'Archevêché, several dozen in all, including the Bellerophon, Gladiators, and Circus mosaics, but most of them have now disappeared); walls covered with frescos. Since the city was laid waste many times the numerous cellars are the only parts still intact. Aside from some potters' workshops (a group of kilns near St. Rémi is exceptionally well preserved), crafts are represented by work in bone, of which there is evidence in several places.

The boundaries of the Early Empire city are not clear: the necropoleis that surrounded it to the NE, N, NW, SW, and SE are often too far away, judging from the excavated sections, to pinpoint the perimeter of the city. Only the necropoleis to the N and W appear to coincide with the boundaries of the settlement, which extended almost 1 km in each direction from the four arches. Traces of destruction and fire as well as caches of coins (several of which date no later than the period of Gallienus or Tetricus) provide evidence of the upheavals of the second half of the 3d c.: Durocortorum certainly suffered from the invasion of A.D. 275, perhaps also from those of 252-54 and 259-60. The settlement was reduced in size; workshops were concentrated in the center, and a surrounding wall (difficult to date) was built, apparently linking the four earlier arches; much Late Empire material was reused in the wall. Outside the walls, the settlement, sporadic in growth, did not develop beyond the mid 4th c. In contrast, the necropoleis spread out.

The first Christian monuments, frequently combined with sepulchers, from the end of the 3d and beginning of the 4th c. A.D., were the chapels of St. Sixtus and St. Clement (the latter was subsequently replaced by the Oratory of St. Christopher, then by the St. Rémi basilica), and later the churches of St. Timothy and St. Agricola. All these monuments were in the S section of the city. The only church intra muros before St. Nicaise built the original cathedral was that of St. Symphorien, which was erected in the first half of the 4th c. The chief city of Belgica Secunda, the city was henceforth known as Remorum urbs or Remi.

Most of the finds are in the Musée St. Rémi.


Caes., BGall. 1.1-6; Strab. 2.3-4; Tac., Hist. 4, 5; Hier., Ep.

C. Loriquet, Reims sous la domination romaine d'après les inscriptions (1860); N. Brunette, Notice sur les antiquités de Reims (1861); A. Blanchet, Les enceintes romaines de la Gaule (1907); E. Espérandieu, Recueil général des bas-reliefs. . .V, 1 (1913)I; F. Vercauteren, Etude sur les civitates de la Belgique Seconde (1934); J. Leflon, Histoire de l'église de Reims du Ier au Ve siècle (1941); H. Stern, Recueil général des mosaïques de la Gaule I, 1 (1957)I; P. M. Duval, Gallia 12 (1954) 97fP; 17 (1959) 37-62; J. & F. Lallemand, Bull. Soc. Arch. Champenoise (1969) 18-34PI; E. Frézouls, Gallia 27 (1969) 303PI; 29 (1971) 295-97; 31 (1973) 410-14.


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