I’d be remiss if I didn’t make mention of a major recent find in Gaulish archæology: a roadside sanctuary at Point-Sainte-Maxence, unique for its size (the building was 70 m long, and nearly 10 m high!) and also the high-quality workmanship of its construction (Le Parisien calls it a « style presque hellénistique »).
Monumental statues of Venus and the ram-horned Jupiter Ammon were found on the site. One statue, according to Le Monde, depicts a woman whom Venus turned to stone for having revealed to Vulcan where Venus was having her tryst with Mars. La Croix describes Venus’ posture as « accroupie », which might have intriguing implications for our interpretation of Cernunnos and especially his antlered, cross-legged female counterpart. The presence of Jupiter Ammon is also intriguing: Is this a sign of the early penetration of Egyptian deities to this part of Gaul, or a Hellenistic artistic idiom through which to depict Cernunnos?
Little by little, archæological discoveries like this are filling in the gaps about the ancient religious landscape of the Seine basin. This is a region where epigraphy can tell us very little (inscriptions being comparatively scarce), but where a number of major sanctuaries and more than a few religious monuments of major importance have been discovered. This western part of Gallia Belgica gives us not only Gournay-sur-Aronde and Ribemont-sur-Ancre, but also smaller Picard sanctuaries such as Champlieu, as well as the unique and rich early Gallo-Roman iconography of Reims (featuring the great altar of Cernunnos, Apollo and Mercury; tricephalic statues of ‘Lugus’; depictions in an almost La Tène style of ‘Rigani’; etc.). And this without mentioning nearby Grand, Deneuvre or Berthouville…
The Pont-Sainte-Maxence site, once a football field, is sadly set to be made into a big-box supermarket. The sanctuary is said to date from the principate of the divine Antoninus Pius.