(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
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.
1.1-6; Strab. 2.3-4
Hist. 4, 5; Hier., Ep
C. Loriquet, Reims sous la domination romaine d'après
(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
J. Leflon, Histoire de l'église de Reims du Ier au Ve
(1941); H. Stern, Recueil général des mosaïques
de la Gaule
I, 1 (1957)I
; P. M. Duval, Gallia
; 17 (1959) 37-62; J. & F. Lallemand, Bull. Soc.
; E. Frézouls, Gallia
27 (1969) 303PI
; 29 (1971) 295-97; 31 (1973) 410-14.