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ANTWERP Belgium.

The town of Antwerp had its origin in a Gallo-Roman vicus, whose existence has been known for certain for only about ten years. Since the 16th c., however, numerous finds of the Roman period (mostly individual artifacts) have been reported at several localities in the town, the most important being a necropolis near the Abbey of St. Michael. In 1610, 1774, and at the beginning of the 19th c., cremation tombs were found there; they date to the 1st and 2d c. A.D. Among the finds of 1610 was an ornate white marble sarcophagus with a funerary inscription (CIL VI, 29507). However, most archaeologists consider that it was not found in situ but had been brought from Rome during the Renaissance. Still, the finds of 1774 and later at the same spot indicate that the authenticity of the find must not be discounted a priori. The existence of the vicus was proved beyond doubt by the excavations conducted in the old town near the Scheldt from 1952 to 1961. Wooden houses and streets of the Carolingian period were found; under this mediaeval layer, beds of fill, stuffed with sherds of pottery and glassware of Roman date, were used to raise the level of the ground. The Roman remains date to the period between A.D. 140 and the second half of the 3d c. The end of Roman occupation can be attributed either to the invasions of the Franks during the second half of the 3d c. or to the Dunkirk II marine transgression (around 300), which flooded the low ground all along the Scheldt.

The Roman vicus was succeeded by a Merovingian settlement, evangelized by St. Amand in the 7th c. The course of the road from Bavai N goes through Asse, Rumpst, and Kontich, and then can be traced no farther. It probably passed through the vicus of Antwerp and then continued N by Rijsbergen and Utrecht to the Netherlands. Other roads linked Antwerp to Bruges (to the W) and Tongres (to the E).


The abundant bibliography may be found in M. Bauwens-Lesenne, Bibliografisch repertorium der oudheidkundige vondsten in de provincie Antwerpen (1965) 1-14. For the recent excavations: O. Vandenborn, “Gallo-romeinse vondsten te Antwerpen,” Helinium 5 (1965) 252-83.


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