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The Princeton Encyclopedia of Classical Sites

Lutetia Parisiorum later Parisius

Lutetia Parisiorum later Parisius (Paris) France.
Chief city of the Gallic civitas Parisioruin in Lugdunensis Quarta, becoming Parisius in the 5th c. A.D. The Gallic oppidum was on the Ile de la Cite, which at that time was smaller than it is today and was linked to the riverbanks by two bridges; it seems to have been occupied by the Parisii ca. 250-225 B.C. During the Gallic Wars the inhabitants burned the bridges (52 B.C.). The Gallo-Roman city was rebuilt on the island but it developed mainly on the hill on the S bank of the river (the Montagne Sainte-Genevieve); here public buildings were put up, the N plain, low-lying and in part easily flooded, remaining uninhabited in the Early Empire, the city's prosperous period. Laid waste by the barbarians ca. A.D. 275, the city acquired a fortified keep when a surrounding wall was built on the Ile de la Cite. Nevertheless, contrary to what has long been stated, the Gallo-Roman city almost certainly was not confined to the island in the Late Empire; on the contrary, a sizable part of the S bank continued to be inhabited. Lutetia played an important military role in the 4th c. Julian and Valentinian stayed there, and later Clovis made it the cathedra regni.
  During the Early Empire, the cardo, which was oriented N-S, joined the road leading in one direction to Senlis and in the other to Orleans--the route the Rue Saint-Martin and Rue Saint-Jacques follow today. Paving from the period of the Early Empire has been found underneath the latter street. Several decumani branched out from it to the S as well as some diagonal roads, necessitated by the slope of the ground. It is not certain whether in the Late Empire a road was built to the W leading to Saint-Denis, parallel to the N section of the cardo. The Ile de la Cite has kept hardly any coherent remains from the Early Empire: its topography was first completely changed and the ground level raised during the rebuilding after the rampart was built in the Late Empire, then it was destroyed. What remains are the foundations discovered in the Palais de Justice in 1848, those uncovered in 1847 at the Parvis Notre-Dame, and in the same area a paved floor and some walls excavated in 1965-70. There is nothing to prove there was a temple underneath the present Cathedral of Notre Dame, the Nautae pillar--discovered below the chancel in 1711--being made of reused blocks. The Early Empire necropolis, which used to be known as fief des Tombes and was partially investigated in the 19th c., was excavated again in 1957-60. Situated to the S alongside the Orleans road, it contained no tombs later than the end of the 3d c. All the public monuments were on the S bank, the Montagne Sainte-Genevieve, while the new buildings spread down the hill, not up it away from the island as used to be thought.
  The forum, which was excavated in the 19th c. and whose S section was again studied in 1970, seems to have replaced a circular building of the 1st c. A rectangle 782 x 100 m, it gave onto the Orleans road on its small E side and had a central platform, which no doubt served as the base of a temple or basilica, with an open area around it edged by a wall; backed against the wall were stalls with a portico above them. Graffiti make it possible to date the retaining wall of the central platform from the beginning of the 2d c. at the latest. This wall had a gallery, which was painstakingly filled in from the time it was built along the greater part of its length.
  Lutetia had three baths. Those to the N, the Cluny baths, are still well preserved. They were built on a rectangular plan, the long side lying perpendicular to the cardo, and measured 100 x 65 m on the exterior. Inside, the rooms were laid out according to the circular type. The frigidarium still has its groined vault; it is supported partly by large consoles representing ships' prows, no doubt a link with the guild of the nautae pansiaci that put up a votive pillar in Tiberius' reign, some elements of which were found to have been reused in the Cite. Judging from their method of construction (walls of mortared rubble faced with small blocks and banded with brick), these baths seem to go back to the last quarter of the 2d c. or the first quarter of the 3d c. (excavations carried out in the 19th c. and in 1946-56).
  The E baths, which are close by but to the E of the cardo, were slightly smaller (75-80 x 68 m), with circular hot rooms. Excavated in the 19th c. and from 1935 to 1938, they are incompletely known. Built very probably a little earlier than the N baths, they replaced an earlier building. Finally there are baths, measuring 60 x 40 m, a little S of the forum. Long believed to be a villa, when they were excavated in the 19th c. they were found to be decorated with painted walls and marbles. They were built on the site of an earlier building and seem to be later than the forum. They got their water from an aqueduct coining from the S, which was 16 km long, with a 330 m bridge; traces of piers are still to be seen. To the E was an amphitheater with a stage. Its oval arena measured 52 x 46 m. A 1st c. monument, it was discovered in the 19th c. and restored. Some of the original parts are still standing, and some drums of the half-columns decorating the cavea have been found. A small theater (72 x 49 m) was also built, probably shortly after the N baths, W of the amphitheater near what is now the Jardin du Luxembourg, which probably was the wealthiest section of the city. Seventy-three Gallo-Roman votive deposits were excavated in 1972-73. The suggestion that there was a circus, at least to the E on the banks of the Seine (the old Halle aux vins), must in all reasonableness be rejected.
  During the Late Empire, after the invasions of the late 3d c., a fortified keep was built in the Cite. About 300 the Cite was enclosed in a rampart; its foundations have been located to the N, E, and S (in the 19th c. and from 1965 to 1970). They were probably composed of layers of quarrystone bonded with mortar and overlaid on top with a dry masonry of more or less recut blocks, many from the monuments of the upper city (stelae, architectural fragments). Treasure dating from ca. 275 was discovered in 1970 on the S side of the city outside the rampart. The island buildings were replaced by new ones erected on the risen earth, which caused the ground level to rise from 0.80 to 2 m. Various fragments of these buildings have been unearthed: two rooms heated by a hypocaust are preserved in the Parvis Notre Dame along with the furnace (excavations of 1965-70), and in particular, a well-built wall of mortared rubble faced with small blocks and flanked by five large buttresses; it stands at one end of the S bridge (the Petit Pont) and looks as if it had once been part of a public building.
  A Christian cemetery was located on the S bank, to the extreme E (Saint-Marcel), when the area was excavated. A late hypocaust floor was discovered in the Jardin du Luxembourg in 1957. These finds, together with a study of the building of sanctuaries in the Merovingian period, have recently led to the conclusion that Lutetia still remained on the S bank in the Late Empire while some construction started to develop on the N bank. In the Early Empire a sanctuary dedicated to Mercury stood outside the city, on the Montmartre hill, and next to it some buildings and a small necropolis.

M. Fleury, ed.
This text is from: The Princeton encyclopedia of classical sites, Princeton University Press 1976. Cited Feb 2006 from Perseus Project URL below, which contains bibliography & interesting hyperlinks.


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