Provincie Oost-Vlaanderen

Unique Roman 10-year-dig starts in Zottegem

A ten-year programme of excavation is starting at Velzeke, outside the East Flemish city of Zottegem.  “It’s going to be a unique experience” says Kurt Braeckman, the curator of the provincial archaeological centre.  “Visitors will be able to visit the excavations as they happen and archaeologists will be keen to provide a word of explanation.”

The ambitious excavations at the Archeo Centre in Velzeke started today.  Archaeologists intend to examine a site that is a hectare and a half big.  The dig will continue for a decade.  To accompany the excavations the provincial authorities are constructing an Archeo Park.  A Roman road is being reconstructed too.

It's pretty unusual that members of the public are able to watch a dig in progress but also see what happens to the finds: The public will be shown how finds are washed and processed up until the last stage, when they are put in storage or displayed in the museum” Says Braeckman. “Us archaeologists can’t wait to explain what we are doing!”

The Velzeke site is one of the most important in Belgium.

“Here lies one of the largest Gallo-Roman settlements in Belgium.  We’ve already made several breath-taking finds and expect to make more.”

“The site we will now examine was situated at the centre of the settlement at the crossroads of two important roads.  One road arrived from the French Provence passing the cities of Lyons, Rheims and Velzeke and heading for the coast.  The other route started in Boulogne-Sur-Mer.”

Visitors are welcome from today.  Next weekend a host of activities are planned as the Archaeological Days are marked.

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