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HOFSTADE-LEZ-ALOST Belgium.

This vicus in the N part of the civitas Nerviorum was linked by secondary roads to Ganda, Velzeke, and Asse. The site was partly excavated from 1947 to 1951. It is located on a slight rise that dominates a brook, the Vondelbeek, which has its source 800 m away. In 1946 a trench was accidentally found which was filled with a large quantity of potsherds, pieces of glass goblets, a white terracotta statuette depicting the Spinario, and the sword of a Roman legionary. The collection can be precisely dated to the Flavian period. Following this discovery, the foundations of a small dwelling (ca. 21 x 22 m) were brought to light. The irregular plan recalls that of villas with the rooms that jut out at the corners linked by a portico. Sherds date this dwelling to A.D. 150-250. The remains of a small rustic sanctuary, excavated ca. 100 m distant, consisted of a plain square cella surrounded by a large temenos shaped like an irregular trapezoid. The fanum itself (6.8-7.1 m square), faces E, and it too can be dated ca. A.D. 150-250. Probably there was a link between the two buildings. Excavations proved that an older sanctuary had existed on the same spot. It was built about A.D. 60 and was destroyed by fire a little before 150. The 1946 find, reevaluated in this context, consisted of a favissa of the first sanctuary. After the fire, the burnt debris of this fanum was buried in large trenches, in order to avoid the use of the remains of this consecrated building for profane purposes. Besides architectural fragments bearing traces of the fire, one of these trenches produced some jewelry, sherds of small libation paterae, and a series of bronze and terracotta statuettes depicting Minerva, Venus, Kybele, and a Mater suckling twins. This group of divinities belongs to the Roman, Graeco-oriental, and native pantheons. They reflect the interpretatio romana, which identified with various Classical goddesses the great native divinity of fertility and springs. One may suppose that the brook passing near the sanctuary was dedicated to her. The excavations also led to the discovery of remains of several small buildings. These seem to have been shops where souvenirs of the sanctuary (statuettes, paterae, etc.) were sold to pilgrims.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

S. J. De Laet, “Romeinse oudhedengevondente Hofstade bij Aalst,” AntCl 16 (1947) 287-306; id., “Opgravingen op de Steenberg te Hofstade bij Aalst,” Kultureel Jaarboek v. de Provincie Oostvlaanderen 2 (1948) 141-64; id., “Un sanctuaire gallo-romain à Hofstade,” La Nouvelle Clio 1-2 (1949-50) 231-37; id., “Een Gallo-Romeins heiligdom op de Steenberg te Hofstade bij Aalst,” Kultureel Jaarboek v. de Provincie Oostvlaanderen 4 (1950) 269-314; id., “Le fanum de Hofstade-lez-Alost et le culte de la déesse gauloise de la fécondité,” Latomus 11 (1952) 45-56MPI; M. Bauwens-Lesenne, Bibliografisch repertorium der oudheidkundige vondsten in Oostvlaanderen (1962) 89-92.

S. J. DE LAET

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