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VERTUNUM (St.-Mard) Belgium.

A large Gallo-Roman vicus extending over the Majerou plateau and the hamlet of Vieux-Virton, N of the junction of the Vire and the Ton. The many Gallic coins found on the site indicate that its origins go back to pre-Roman times, but it began to grow from the beginning of the Roman period. A market located in the middle of a rich agricultural region (many villas have been noted in the vicinity), the center may have suffered during the revolt of the Treviri in A.D. 21 as the discovery of two hoards of coins of the Republic, Augustus, and Tiberius seems to indicate. In the 19th and 20th c. there have been many chance discoveries of foundations and masonry wells (one of which was 14 m deep). Systematic excavations (1961-63) have cleared part of the vicus, revealing remains of rectangular houses, divided into two or three rooms, and aligned along both sides of a road linking the vicus to the great Reims-Trier road. The houses were first built of wood, then rebuilt and enlarged in masonry during the 1st c. The walls (60 to 70 cm thick) were built of large, regular sandstone ashlars bound with clay. The floor was most frequently of stamped earth. Most of these houses had a very carefully built cellar, with a stone or wooden staircase. The cellar floors kept the imprint of the amphoras and dolia which had been pushed into them. This part of the vicus was occupied from the 1st to the 3d c.

East of the vicus a necropolis with 3d c. incineration tombs has revealed a series of funerary monuments with reliefs like those of Arlon and Buzenol N of the built-up area. The discovery of a votive plaque to Mars Lanus, fragments of two other votive inscriptions, two column bases with snake-footed giants, and an altar, suggests that there was an important sanctuary at Vertunum. The wealth of the vicus is also attested by the discovery of artifacts made of gold, silver (a plate with a diameter of 30 cm), bronze, etc. During the Frankish invasions of the second half of the 3d c., Vertunum may have played a strategic role under Gallienus, Postumus, Victorinus, Tetricus I and II, and Claudius II. Thousands of coins of these emperors have been found on the Majerou plateau. A large burning level and several hoards of coins buried at the time indicate that the vicus was ravaged during the great invasion of 275-76 but was rebuilt and remained inhabited all during the 4th c. It is not impossible that a castellum was built there.


BIBLIOGRAPHY

C. Dubois, Le vicus romain de Vertunum (1938)MI; J. Mertens, “Quelques aspects de la romanisation dans l'ouest du Pays Gaumais,” Helinium 3 (1963) 205-24; id., “La Luxembourg méridional au Bas-Empire,” Mélanges A. Bertrang (1964) 191-202; M. Thirion, Les trésors monétaires gaulois et romains découverts en Belgique (1967) 144-46.

S. J. DE LAET

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