(Tongeren or Tongres）
Capital of the civitas Tungrorum. The
name is written Aduaca in the Antonine Itinerary
Atuaca on the Peutinger Table
(2.9.4-6). Ammianus Marcellinus (15.11.7; 17.8.3) and
the Notitia Galliarum
(8) refer to the civitas Tungrorum, Julius Honorius (Cosmographia Occidentis
to Tungri oppidum, and the Notitia Dignitatum
to Tungri. The town is on the right bank of the Jeker,
on the hilltop dominating the entire neighboring region.
At the time of the Roman conquest, Atuatuca was a
fortress of the Atuatuci (the descendants of the Cimbri
and the Teutones) in the heart of the territory of their
tributaries, the Eburones. Caesar established a winter
camp there (BGall
. 6.32,35); it was occupied by a legion
and a half, commanded by Sabinus and Cotta. In 54 B.C.
the Eburones, led by Ambiorix, attacked the camp and
massacred the Roman troops. The identification of this
Atuatuca Eburonum with the Atuatuca Tungrorum of
the Imperial period is still not entirely certain. The pre-Roman remains found at Tongres are very few. The
Eburones were exterminated by Caesar and replaced
under Augustus by the Tungri, a tribe probably from
beyond the Rhine. The newcomers established their main
settlement on the site of the fortress of the Atuatuci and
retained its name.
Only in the excavations of recent years have there
begun to appear some remains dating to before the revolt of the Batavi in A.D. 69-70. It seems more and more
likely that under Augustus there was at Tongres a military camp, since remains of the W side of such an establishment have been found. A V-section ditch with a
palisade has been excavated a little to the W of the 2d
c. walls. A little farther E, wooden hutting of elongated
plan belonged either to this camp or to the canabae. A
considerable quantity of sherds of Italic terra sigillata
and a large number of Gallic coins with the legend
AVAUCIA attest that the civilian vicus already had a certain economic importance. Even at this time Tongres
became an important nexus from which roads went out
to Bavai, Cassel, Antwerp, Nijmegen, Cologne, Trier,
and Arlon. Tongres is situated in the fertile alluvial region of central Belgium with many rich villas whose
produce was destined for the Roman armies stationed
along the Rhine frontier; it became a very important
commercial center. The abandonment of the military
camp at the end of the reign of Augustus in no way
jeopardized this vitality.
The checkerboard network of streets dates to the
reign of Claudius. The streets were bordered by elongated wooden houses, some of which have been excavated. The large aqueduct dates to the same period.
Massive foundations have been found and can be followed for 2.5 km. The revolt of the Batavi under Julius
Civilis in A.D. 69-70 had fatal consequences for Tongres;
thick burning layers testify to its complete destruction.
During the period of the Pax Romana the town was
quickly rebuilt and it flourished. It certainly had the
rank of municipium and may have been destined to
become a colony. Trajan or Hadrian had an impressive
enceinte built around the town with a perimeter of
4544 m, ca. 500 m longer than the walls of Cologne. This
enclosed the built-up area and an undeveloped district as well, but the project of establishing colonists at
Tongres was abandoned. The enclosing wall (2.1 to
2.15 m thick) rested on a foundation of dry masonry and
was composed of a core of flint nodules bound by mortar.
The wall was furnished with large round towers, 9 m
in diameter. The approach to the fortifications was defended by a system of V-section ditches. Several gates
passed through the fortifications. At least one had a
double arcade and was flanked by two rectangular towers. Four other gates have been located, but there certainly were more.
The network of streets was composed of seven parallel
streets running E-W, with an average width of 5.5 m,
cut at right angles by at least seven other streets. The
location of the forum is not known for certain. On the
forum must have been placed the eight-sided itinerary
milestone which mentioned the road network for all N
Gaul and lower Germany (CIL
XIII, 9158). Unfortunately, only three sides of this black limestone monument have been preserved, and those only partially. One
side enumerates the localities between Cologne and
Worms along the Rhine, the second those along the
Metz-Reims-Amiens road, and the third those along
the road from Cassel to the frontier of the Atrebates.
The distances are given in Celtic leugne (2.22 km) instead of in Roman miles.
The most monumental remains excavated to date are
those of an impressive sanctuary, located in the N part
of the town, near the ramparts. In order to compensate
for the slope of the ground an artificial terrace was
constructed. This esplanade was surrounded by a portico
(112 x 71.5 m wide). A temple with a podium stood in
the middle; it had a rectangular cella (13 x 10 m) a
pronaos, and a peristyle (about 24 x 29 m). The temple
seems to date, in its first stage, to the end of the 1st c.
It is exceptional in Gaul, for it differs greatly from
sanctuaries in the indigenous tradition, with their square
cellae; strong Roman influence is indicated. The temple
was remodeled and enlarged during the 2d c. (possibly
when the ramparts were built). Of the other remains
of a religious character found at Tongres, the following
are of note: the torso of a snake-footed giant; the capital
of a column, depicting a rider trampling a double snake-footed giant under the hoofs of his horse; a stone with
four deities; and a putative statue of Jupiter and Juno
which, by certain details, shows that it really depicts the
Celtic god Taranis and his cult associate.
Three large necropoleis extended to the W, N, and
E of the town, along the roads going out from it. Thousands of tombs of the Early Empire have been found.
Most are cremation burials, but there are also inhumations, beginning as early as the end of the 1st c. The
artifacts found as grave goods form the basis of the
rich collections in the archaeological museum at Tongres: pottery, glassware, fibulas, jewelry.
From the middle of the 3d c., the period of the Pax
Romana was disturbed by the first barbarian invasions.
The town of Tongres was taken and pillaged by the
Franks around 275-76. Once the barbarians were pushed
back, the defenses of the town were restored by the
construction of a new but smaller enceinte. This wall
was thicker than the earlier one. It was furnished with a
larger number of towers, possibly more than 100, placed
only 20 m apart. They served as magazines for ammunition and communicated with the inside of the town by
a narrow door. The new wall no longer had ditches in
front of it. The facing presents on the outer side a
projection surmounted by two rows of tiles and consists of regular ashlar of various kinds of stone. The
funerary monuments in the necropoleis were reutilized
in the foundations. This new enceinte may date to the
last years of the 3d c. or the beginning of the 4th c.
The civitas Tungrorum, which in the Early Empire
had formed part of the province of Belgica, was henceforth attached to Germania secunda and the region
took on more and more of a military character. Germanic peoples were authorized to establish themselves
in the region and were enrolled in the military. These
are the Laeti Lagenses prope Tungros mentioned in the
. The town itself never again knew
its former prosperity in spite of a long period of relative
tranquillity. A certain number of 4th c. tombs are known,
all inhumations. Some must be graves of Germanic Laeti
and often contain bronze accessories (belt trimmings,
etc.) with “excised” geometric (Kerbschnitt
) or animal-style decoration. Some tombs show that a part of the
population had been converted to Christianity: for example, a funerary cellar with walls decorated with frescos of garlands and doves. Tongres was even the seat of a bishop. However, the center of economic and political gravity of the region shifted to the region of the
Meuse. The seat of the bishop was moved to Maastricht.
It is even possible that Maastricht also replaced Tongres
as the capital of the civitas. We know very little about
the end of the Roman period, only that the fall of Cologne in 457-58 also meant the end of the Roman period at Tongres.
H. Van de Weerd, De Civitas Tungrorum
(1914); id., “Sculptures inédites de Tongres,” Musée
32 (1928) 5-18; id., “Romeinse terra-cottabeeldjes
van Tongeren,” AntCl
1 (1932) 277-301; 2 (1933) 377-78; id., Inleiding tot de Gallo-Romeinsche Archeologie
(1944) 66-73, 88-91PI
; J. Paquay,
“Tongeren voorheen,” Jaarboek van het Limburgs Geschied- en Oudheidkundig Genootschap
(1934) 27ff; P.
de Schaetzen & M. Vanderhoeven, “La terra sigillata de
Tongres,” Bull. de l'Inst. archéol. liégeois
70 (1953-54) 7-284; id., Terra Sigillata te Tongeren
2 (1964); F.
Ulrix, “Comparaison des plans des villes romaines de
Cologne, Trèves et Tongres,” Kölner Jahrbuch
6 (1962-63) 58-70P
; H. van Crombruggen, “Les nécropoles gallo-romaines de Tongres,” Helinium
2 (1962) 36-50; M. Vanderhoeven, Romeins glas uit Tongeren
“De terra sigillata te Tongeren, 3. De italische terra
7 (1967) 32-64, 193-228; J. Mertens,
“Enkele beschouwingen over Limburg in de Romeinse
; id., “Een Romeins tempelcomplex te Tongeren,” Kölner Jahrbuch
S. J. DE LAET