A team from the Inrap is at present excavating a site in the avenue Jean-Jaurès, prior to the construction of an underground car-park by the town of Nîmes.

Last modified
06 February 2017

Curated by the Regional Archaeological Service, the excavation, covers an area of 6000m2. 400 metres long, this dig is the largest archaeological window opened onto the antique past of the city. Antique streets, residential quarters, fountains and statuary are at present being excavated from the earth. 

Nemausus in Narbonnaise

From 500 BC an agglomeration was established on the slopes of the Mont Cavalier. During the 4th century BC the oppidum was the capital of the Volcae arecomici. Dominated by a powerful watch tower celebrated in verse by Victor Hugo (the Tour Magne) its fortifications enclose an area of 30 hectares. Circa 120 BC, well before Caesar's conquest, this part of Transalpine Gaul was annexed by Rome. Situated on the Via Domitia, the town developed within Gallia Narbonensis.
The embellishments of the town continued during the Early Roman Empire: the Augusteum, the forum, a temple dedicated to Augustus's adopted sons (the "Maison Carrée), new fortifications 6 kms. long, an aqueduct receiving water crossing the Pont du Gard and an amphitheatre (the Arènes) became part of the urban landscape. 

Understanding Romanization

Today, archaeologists are clearing a long transect between the ditch of the Gallic oppidum to the north and the Roman rampart to the south. This dig will enable a transversal reading of the antique town and improve our understanding of the main stages of urbanization of this sector of the city between the end of the 2nd century BC and the 3rd century AD, date of its abandon.

The research aim is to better understand the process of Romanization, the progressive passage from a Gallic town towards a town in permanent evolution in contact with the new usages of the coloniser.

Streets, fountains and statues …

In the field, the first results show a high density of structures, in a good state of conservation, sealed by medieval agricultural soil as well as the thick made ground on which the avenue was built in the 18th century. A series of streets, some paved, structured the antique quarter. Their diverging orientations do not correspond to the classical orthogonal plan of the Roman town.

Sometimes, bordered with porticoes and fountains, they frame small groups of dwellings with original floor plans and carefully executed decorations (wall paintings, mosaics). The excavations of a well conserved basin revealed a limestone statue representing a male divinity, perhaps Neptune.
Site Director : Jean-Yves Breuil, Inrap
Curation : Regional Archaeological Department (Drac Languedoc-Roussillon)
Developers : Ville de Nîmes
Contact(s) :

Mahaut Tyrrell
Media communication 
Inrap, media partnerships and relations department 
+33 (0)1 40 08 80 24 
mahaut.tyrrell [at] inrap.fr