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OROLAUNUM (Arlon) Belgium.

A large vicus of the civitas Treverorum, at the intersection of the Reims-Trier and Tongres-Metz roads. The name is mentioned in the Antonine Itinerary and in an inscription found in 1936. The two roads crossed near the source of the Semois, at the foot of the hill of St. Donat (an ancient oppidum of the Iron Age?). The center of the built-up area must have been located at that spot. The most important finds of the period of the Early Empire include a rectangular building near the Wolkrange road, examined in 1840. Bases of columns and a capital in Differdange stone were found there. Another building, elongated in plan, was found at the beginning of the century at the Chemin des Vaches. Finally, the remains of a large bath building, perhaps of religious character, was excavated in 1907 near the source of the Semois. The complex (14 x 12 m) was divided into four rooms, one of them above a hypocaust. It was attached to a pool (3.4 x 4.5 m). An industrial district with lime kilns and potter's kilns was located on the outskirts of the built-up area. The main necropolis of the Early Empire was located at the Hohgericht, where hundreds of tombs (the oldest of which seem to date to the time of Augustus) were pillaged by private collectors. Apparently the vicus was ravaged during one of the barbarian invasions of the second half of the 3d c. At the end of the 3d c. or beginning of the 4th, a keep was built on the hill of St. Donat. A rampart was built halfway up the hill, forming an oval (ca. 300 x 250 m) with a perimeter of ca. 1 km. The wall, 4 m thick, has massive semicircular towers on the inside as breastworks. A large number of sculpted stones from the funerary monuments of the necropoleis of the Early Empire were used in the foundations. The funerary monuments found in the wall form the finest collection of ancient sculpture found in Belgium, comparable to the discoveries at Buzenol, Trier, and Neumagen. (A few are visible in situ; the rest are at the museum in Arlon.) The sculptors very often reproduced scenes of daily life, as well as mythological and symbolic subjects. The building of the enceinte did not, however, lead to the complete abandonment of the ancient site of the vicus. The bath building at the source of the Semois was restored. Near these baths a small Christian sanctuary, basilican in plan, was built during the 4th c. It is to date the only Early Christian church found in Belgium.


J. Sibenaler, “Les thermes d'Arlon,” Annales de l'Institut arch. du Luxembourg 42 (1907) 253-61; R. De Maeyer, De Overblijfselen der Romeinsche Villa's in België (1940) 173-74; H. Van de Weerd, Inleiding tot de Gallo-Romeinsche Archeologie der Nederlanden (1944) 48-49, 75-76; M. E. Mariën, “Les monuments funéraires de l'Arlon romain,” Annales de l'Inst. arch. du Luxembourg 76 (1945); C. Dubois, “Orolaunum. Bibliographie et Documents sur l'Arlon romain,” Annales de l'Inst. arch. du Luxembourg 78 (1946); S. J. De Laet, “La Gaule septentrionale à l'époque romaine,” Bull. Inst. hist. belge de Rome 26 (1950-51) 211-12, 215-16; A. Bergtrang, Histoire d'Arlon (2d ed. 1953); J. Breuer, “Le sous-sol archéologique et les remparts d'Arlon,” Parcs Nationaux 8 (1953) 98-102MI; J. Mertens, “Le Luxembourg méridional au Bas-Empire,” Mémorial A. Bertrang (1964) 191-201; id., “Nouvelles sculptures romaines d'Arlon,” Studia hellenistica 16 (1967) 147-60.


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