Modern city ensconces temple of Roman past#

Posted 2024-02-27

Maison carrée henge view

Nimes -- modern day Nimes, France -- and its ancient-era province were on the Roman map from 121 BCE. The Romans having routed their highway to Gaul, the Via Domitia, through Nimes assured it would be a city of the ages. The temple there, known as Maison carrée, was dedicated in about 4-7 AD by Ceasar Augustus to the honor of his grandsons Gaius and Lucius Caesar (adopted with the intention they should be his heirs).

Time and the city marched on, and on, and on, but the temple persevered as one of the city's extraordinary Roman-Empire-legacy artifacts.

Maison carrée henge view

It is fortunate for the temple that an elevated, podium design was the normal design practice. The result is the main temple floor level is slightly above the level of the surrounding, present-day streets despite 2000 years of normally occuring "ground level rise" that occurs for cities over the millennia (the bane, or maybe blessing, of archaeologists). Also fortunate for modernity is its status as a UNESCO World Heritage site that assures continued emphasis on its preservation.

Some will be aware that none other than Thomas Jefferson fell in love with Maison carrée during his stint as emissary of the young U.S. to France. He decided the temple should provide the model for his beloved home state's pending capitol bulding, and this dream was realized and adorns Richmond, Virginia.

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