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DECEMPAGI (Tarquimpol) Moselle, France.

An important statio ca. 10 km SE of Dieuze, mentioned in the ancient itineraries as being on the road from Reims to Strasbourg. Another road led from there to the Donon mountain. At first the Roman city occupied two-thirds of the peninsula that now juts out from S to N into lake Lindre, as well as the Ile de la Folie. The lake was created in the Middle Ages, and in the Roman period the region must have been extremely marshy. Traces of the city have been found as far as contours 218 and 217 in the N part of the peninsula, and the first area is called Vieux Château.

The Reims-Strasbourg road hugged the N part of the Ile de la Folie, crossed what is now the lake, followed the main street of the modern village and ran across the E branch of the lake towards the farm of La Breidt and Assenoncourt. Excavations in the E arm of the lake produced evidence of the road, and some buildings were also unearthed. Thus in the 1st c. Decempagi was roughly a square ca. 1 km on a side; later, under the threat of invasion the city withdrew to the S part of what is now the peninsula and took shelter behind ramparts. Its area was reduced to one-fourth its former size (second half of 3d c.). We know nothing of the decline of Decempagi, but it was mentioned again in 366 by Ammianus Marcellinus when Julian won a victory over the Alemanni in the region (ad Decempagos). On the other hand, 4th c. terra sigillata has been found there as well as coins as late as the reign of Theodosius. A Merovingian necropolis underneath the church proves that the city was still there in Frankish times.

The archaeological interest of Tarquimpol was noted as early as the 18th c., and many finds were made. In 1825 fragments of cornices were found at Vieux Château, and remains of columns a little later. in 1841 and 1890 the village itself was excavated, and results of digging at Vieux Château suggested that there might be a temple there. In the gardens N of the village foundations of a Roman building were unearthed, along with columns and half-columns. More columns and capitals, of the Doric order, were excavated some distance away, but only the floors of the building remained. At this time traces of a road running NE were found, 4 m wide. This is the road that crossed the lake, passing a building (41 x 13.5 m). A rampart dating from the Later Empire was also found. It was roughly oval and ca. 1100 m around, although the N side ran in a straight line for ca. 200 m. A tower was located, beside the church. In 1892 a large villa NE of the village was unearthed, parallel to the Lindre lake, and excavations continued up to 1894.

In 1950 and 1951 more finds were made in the E part of the village, including a marble sculpture of a child's head and a hoard of about 30 articles that probably belonged to a peasant with a vineyard: two large cauldrons, a strainer, three wine-tasters, a funnel, all of bronze, and a collection of iron tools including two plowshares. The articles can be dated from the second half of the 3d c. and the beginning of the 4th. Another trial trench in the E section of the village revealed three occupation strata with a depth of 2.3 m for the 1st c. alone. Finally in 1967, just S of the same area, 20 enormous limestone blocks each weighing close to a ton were found at the base of the rampart. Probably part of a triumphal arch, they included drums and bases of columns and bas-rehief carvings, many of which fit together. The trench where the blocks had been placed had encroached upon the 1st c. strata mentioned above, which were filled with fine pottery and a medium-sized bronze of Claudius.

The Sarrebourg museum has archaeological collections.


M. Toussaint, “Tarquimpol,” Répertoire archéologique du département de la Moselle (1950).


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