Roman Tongeren

May 5, 2011

We are looking forward to the lectureship which begins tomorrow evening in Houthalen, Belgium.This study will survey the biblical text of Acts through Revelation, with emphasis on the geographical setting of these events as we narrate the biblical record. I am thankful to God for every opportunity to teach His word.

Near Genk, where we are currently situated, is the Roman settlement of Tongeren. Tongeren (Atuatuca Tungrorum) is the oldest city in this region, established by the Romans in 10 BC. It is strategically located on the road between Boulogne (France) and Cologne (Germany).

The Gallo-Roman Museum in their very informative booklet observes:

The Romans do not build their cities at random. Tongeren lies on a navigable stream, in the middle of fertile loamy farmland. The city is well connected with the Roman road system. For the Romans it is of crucial importance that the Rhine border can be reached quickly.

In places the ancient walls can still be seen.

Remnants of Roman Wall at Tongeren. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Many interesting Roman artifacts are featured in the museum, among which is this lead bar with the inscription of Caesar Augustus.

Lead Bar with Caesar Augustus Inscription, Tongeren. Photo by Leon Mauldin.

Again, from the museum booklet:

Lead is an important metal for the construction of, for example, water pipes and drains. Traders ship the metal in the form of bars that are further worked in their place of destination. This bar probably comes from the Eifel region. The inscription IMP(ERATORIS) TI(BERII) CAESARIS AUG(USTI) GERM(ANICUM) TEC(-) means “Property of Emperor Tiberius Caesar Augustus, lead from Germania.” The term TEC probably refers to the person who managed the mine in the name of the Emperor. Of all the objects ever found in Tongeren, this bar is the only object to be marked with the name of a Roman Emperor.

Relation to Scripture: Caesar August was the emperor when in the biblical fullness of time (Galatians 4:4) Jesus was born. Luke writes, “And it came to pass in those days that a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be registered” (2:1). Contextually, this is how it came about that Joseph and Mary, who resided in Nazareth of Galilee, made their way to Bethlehem of Judea, because Bethlehem was their ancestral home. Of course Caesar had no idea he was helping to fulfill the 8th century BC prophecy that Jesus would be born in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

Notice in the above text that Caesar could command that all the world be enrolled. This of course does not mean the whole globe, but the Roman world, the far-flung Roman Empire.

Remember to click on images for larger view.

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