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Narbo Martius (Narbonne)


The genius from the house with the same name. Photo Michel Gybels.
The genius from the house with the same name.
Narbo Martius: important Roman city in Roman France, capital of Gallia Narbonensis, modern Narbonne.

History Excavations Lombarde

Narbonne, or Narbo Martius, in southern France, was the first Roman colonia in southern Gaul, but there are few remains of the city’s Roman past. Only a bit of pavement of the Via Domitia, some underground warehouses, a small stretch of the walls, and the archaeological site of Clos de la Lombarde remain of the capital of the province of Gallia Narbonensis.

The excavations at Le Clos de la Lombarde started in 1973. The archaeologists identified  the remains of some houses and a bathhouse from Late Antiquity, so they had excavated a residential area. They also found an early Christian basilica and a necropolis.
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Griffin. Photo Michel Gybels.
  Relief of a griffin.

Decorated floors, mosaics, and unique wall paintings are now in the Musée archéologique de Narbonne, where you can also see ancient statues, ceramics, funeral monuments, and utensils from the Roman age. In the museum are also several well-made models of the two main buildings, the House with the Great Triclinium and the House of the Genius.

The first, which dates back to the second century CE, has a surface of no less than 705 square meters. It is named after its great dining room (triclinium), about ninety square meters, comparable to the ones in Pompeii. The second, with a surface of 975 square meters, is about a century older. It is an example of an elite mansion with an atrium, a peristyle, a tablinum (office), and, again, a dining room. In this house the well-preserved painting of a Genius was found. In his right hand, he carries a cornucopia.

Head. Photo Michel Gybels. Inscription. Photo Michel Gybels. Head. Photo Michel Gybels.
Head
Inscription of the decuriones
Head, late antique
Statue of Silenus. Photo Michel Gybels.
A mill. Photo Michel Gybels.
Statue. Photo Michel Gybels.
Silenus
Relief of a mill
Statue of a man (Hercules?)
Wine harvest. Photo Michel Gybels.
The wine harvest.
The bathhouse dates back to the first century CE, measures about 700 square meters, and received its waters from to pits/wells through lead pipes. In this building, the archaeologists found many statues, floor tiles, and marble plates with paintings. In the early Christian basilica, the excavators uncovered many interesting tombs, including a young child buried – as was customary – in an amphora. All these finds can be seen in the museum.

A unique and well-preserved monument is the Roman horreum, an underground store room for wine, oil, and weapons. Constructed in the first century BCE, it consists of several galleries, and cellars of various sizes. This complex is at some five meters below street level, and has recently - in 2006 to be precise - been made more accessible with an entrance hall that can be used for audiovisual presentations.

History Excavations Lombarde
© photos and text:
Michel Gybels for
Livius.Org, 2012
Revision: 26 July 2012
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