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JEMELLE Belgium.

A Gallo-Roman villa, excavated at the end of the 19th c. It is one of the largest known in Belgium. The complex consists of a dwelling, an enclosure for livestock, six appended buildings, and a necropolis. The central building (ca. 100 x 30 m) includes to the S a bath building that seems to have been a later addition. Originally (mid 1st c.), the villa was symmetrical in plan, with porticos all along the E and W facades, and a large central hall with lesser rooms on either side. To compensate for the slope of the ground, an artificial terrace was built first and reinforced at various places by semicircular buttresses. None of the rooms of the villa was heated by a hypocaust. Three rooms were built above cellars. The bath mentioned above included a caldarium, sudatorium, tepidarium (all three above hypocausts), apodyterium, and frigidarium with pool. A long, narrow corridor connected the bath with the dwelling itself. On the NE side of the dwelling is a walled enclosure (8160 sq m) for livestock. The appended buildings were probably a stable, a workshop, and an ironworks. The necropolis was located some 150 m from the dwelling.

The villa had a rather turbulent history. Ruined for the first time under Marcus Aurelius during the invasion of Chauci, it was rebuilt and then destroyed for a second time under Aurelian (270-75). Once again restored, it was one of the very few villas in Belgium to remain in use during the 4th c. Its owner, who must have been a member of the aristocracy of great landed proprietors of the time, ordered the construction, at the end of the 3d c., of a fortified refuge on a hill that dominates the villa. Here the remains of an oppidum of the Iron Age was blocked off by an earthworks preceded by a ditch. About 35 m behind this, the promontory was once again blocked by a transverse wall (80 x 6 m) standing in front of a ditch 14.5 m wide, which precedes an extenor rampart flanked by five semicircular towers, two of which flank the entry into the refuge. Another wall, located 140 m behind the preceding one, divides the refuge into two unequal parts. Circumvallation protects the S side of the refuge; the N side is protected by steep cliffs. In the two parts of the refuge one can still see the foundations of two buildings.


R. De Maeyer, De Romeinsche Villa's in België (1937) passim, esp. pp. 87-93P; id., De Overblijfselen der Romeinsche Villa's in België (1940) 258-63; Y. Graff, “Oppida et castella au pays des Belges,” Celticum 6 (1963) 125-26.


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