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Arausio (Orange)



The triumphal arch from the north.
Arausio: Roman city in central France, modern Orange.

Arausio, named after a native goddess, was probably the site of Hannibal's crossing of the Rhône (218 BCE) and certainly the place where the Cimbrians defeated the Romans in 105 BCE. The Roman town was founded as a settlement for veterans of the Second legion in 36 BCE.; it replaced an older city, which was situated on a hill, a bit more to the south.

An interesting archaeological find from the reign of the emperor Augustus (27 BCE - 14 CE) is a land register. It must have measured 44 x 63 square fields, each measuring 715 x 715 meters. Some of these fields were given to veterans and were free of tributum; others were property of the city and were liable to taxation.

The town suffered heavily from the Gallic revolt under Julius Sacrovir and Julius Florus in 21 CE, but as it was situated along the road from the Mediterranean to Lyon, there was sufficient trade to obtain money for recovery.

To commemorate the Roman victory, a triumphal arch, was erected. Reliefs show defeated Gauls and victorious legionaries, which may have belonged to the Twentieth legion Valeria Victrix, the Fourteenth 'twin' legion, and the Twenty-first legion Rapax. This is one of the oldest surviving examples of the "triple" triumphal arch that was to become the standard type (e.g., the arch of Septimius Severus and the arch of Constantine I the Great in Rome).

Model of the Arch of Orange, Museo nazionale della civiltà romana, Roma (Italy). Photo Jona Lendering.
The arch from the south... ...from the east... ... and in the Museo nazionale della civilta romana (Rome)
A temple near the theater
Inside the theater
Behind the theater
Land register from Orange. Musée d'Orange (France). Photo Marco Prins. Land register from Orange. Musée d'Orange (France). Photo Marco Prins.
Two fragments of land register "B" (Musée d'Orange)


The theater was rebuilt. The impressive stage wall has a width of 103 meters and is 38 meters high. The statue in the center represents the emperor Augustus, under whose auspices Orange had been founded. A satellite photo of the theater can be found here.
© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2005
Revision: 9 August 2009
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