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MAILLEN Belgium.

Two of the largest Gallo-Roman villas ever excavated in Belgium were discovered in the jurisdiction of this township. The first, near Ronchinnes, was investigated in 1894. It consisted of a main building and four subsidiary buildings, the whole extending over a length of ca. 400 m. The first stage of the villa goes back to the middle or even the first half of the 1st c. A.D. At that time, it was a rather modest rectangular building, containing six rooms flanked on the S side by a portico. Later, it was enlarged on both sides (with the construction of a complete thermal installation, including frigidarium with labrum, sudatorium, and caldarium). In its final state, the villa was a long, narrow, rectangular ensemble, with a portico along the whole S facade, about 110 m long. Part of the villa was heated by hypocausts, and there were at least two very carefully built cellars with niches arranged in the walls. Apparently the villa must have suffered under Marcus Aurelius during the invasions of the Chauci and perhaps also during the invasions of the Franks in the second half of the 3d c. However, it was one of the few agricultural establishments in Belgium which remained in use throughout the 4th c. Of the subsidiary buildings one was a brewery, with a malt-house, fermentation room, depot. Another was an iron-works. Iron was already being produced on an industrial scale in the Entre-Sambre-et-Meuse in Gallo-Roman times.

The second villa was excavated near Al Sauvenière in 1889. Less extensive than the villa of Ronchinnes, it is similar in plan: a large quadrangular ensemble. The rooms opened onto a portico, extending ca. 73 m, the whole length of the S facade. The W wing, where fragments of fresco and window glass were found, served as a dwelling. The E wing was intended for agricultural use. The two wings were separated by an interior court. North of the court was a complete bath building, with praefurnium, caldarium, tepidarium, frigidarium, and latrine. A subsidiary building was located 45 m from the main building. The villa was in use from the first half of the 1st c. until the end of the 4th.


R. De Maeyer, De Romeinsche Villa's in Belgë (1937) passim, esp. 93-99; id., De Overblijfselen der Romeinsche Villa's in België (1940) 267-72.


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