Archaeologists discover 'new' Roman phrase on ancient cup in Mortsel

Archaeologists conducting excavations in Mortsel have found a drinking cup bearing a previously unknown Roman slogan. "Avoca te" translates to "amuse yourself" or "have fun", according to a professor from the University of Antwerp.

The southern edge of Antwerp was much less densely built up in Roman times than today, but settlements existed where agriculture was practised. At an excavation site in Mortsel, archaeologists from the Flemish Heritage Centre have found remains of one such settlement. Their findings include a sacrificial bowl, a dish, ceramic material and a cup with the inscription "Avoca te".

A unique find

The archaeologists consulted with Professor Christian Laes from the University of Antwerp, who specialises in classical antiquity. "The meaning of the verb 'avocare' has changed over time," Laes said. "Originally, the word meant 'to call something or someone away' or 'to redirect'. Later that evolved to 'amuse'. 'Avoca te' - here in the imperative - can be translated as 'amuse'. The phrase is probably an informal expression used during festivities where wine flowed lavishly."

Countless cups from Roman civilisation have been recovered in the past, and "avocare" is a well-known verb, but this wording had yet to be found on a drinking cup anywhere in the world, according to an international database of inscriptions.

2023 has proven to be rich in artefact discoveries in Belgium. In April, archaeologists uncovered evidence of a Roman sanctuary and cemetery in Elewijt, close to Zemst. Traces of burial grounds, circular ditches and a settlement dating from the Iron Age were found, in addition to a Roman cemetery with up to 30 burials and evidence of an open-air sanctuary for worshipping the Roman pantheon of gods.


#FlandersNewsService | © DAVID OLLER / EUROPA PRESS

Related news

Website preview
Archaeologists begin new excavation of Roman-era dyke in Flanders
Archaeologists from the Vrije Universiteit Brussel started excavations of an ancient dyke in Raversijde, a coastal village in Flanders, on...

Get updates in your mailbox

By clicking "Subscribe" I confirm I have read and agree to the Privacy Policy.


Belga News Agency delivers dependable, rapid and high-quality information 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, from Belgium and abroad to all Belgian media. The information covers all sectors, from politics, economics and finance to social affairs, sports and culture, not to mention entertainment and lifestyle.

Every day, our journalists and press photographers produce hundreds of photos and news stories, dozens of online information items, plus audio and video bulletins, all in both national languages. Since the end of March 2022 English has been added as a language.

For public institutions, businesses and various organisations that need reliable information, Belga News Agency also offers a comprehensive range of corporate services to meet all their communication needs.


Arduinkaai 29 1000 Brussels