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Jemeppe-sur-Sambre (Municipality, Province of Namur, Belgium)

Last modified: 2005-11-12 by ivan sache
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[Flag of Jemeppe]

Municipal flag of Jemeppe-sur-Sambre - Image by Arnaud Leroy, 3 May 2005

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Presentation of Jemeppe-sur-Sambre

The municipality of Jemeppe-sur-Sambre (17,306 inhabitants; 4,679 hectares) is made, since the 1977 administrative reform, of the former municipalities of Balêtre, Ham-sur-Sambre, Jemeppe, Mornimont, Moustier, Onoz, Saint-Martin and Spy. The qualifier "sur-Sambre" is required to distinguish the municipality from the other Belgian Jemeppe, Jemeppe-sur-Meuse, located near Liège.

Jemeppe-sur-Sambre is located at mid-distance between Charleroi and Namur, in the industrial basin of the Sambre. The main industrial site in Jemeppe belong to the Solvay Group, which set up its first factory there in 1898, and Glaverbel, which produces flat glass.
The Solvay Group was founded in 1863 to exploit the ammonia-soda process for producing sodium carbonate (known as the Solvay process), patented by Ernest Solvay on 15 April 1861. Since then, Solvay has grown to become a global group of pharmaceutical and chemical companies specializing in three sectors : pharmaceuticals, chemicals and plastics. The group is established in 50 countries, with 30,000 employees. In Belgium, Solvay employs more than 3,000, working on five sites: Ixelles (headquarters), Neder-over-Hembeek (Solvay Research & Technology), Jemeppe-sur-Sambre (chemicals and plastics), Lillo (chemicals and plastics) and Oudenaarde (plastics and transformed products).

Ernest Solvay (1838-1922) was the son of a quarry master from Rebecq-Rognon. At the age of 23 he and his brother Alfred developed a new process for the industrial production of sodium carbonate. They founded the company Solvay & Cie on December 24, 1863, flirting with bankruptcy on several occasions during the nearly 10 years it took them to perfect the process.
From 1870 to 1880, Solvay promoted the global expansion of the company. Factories were set up in Belgium, France, England, Germany, Russia and the United States. Ernest Solvay oversaw the organization and development of this industrial empire with remarkable insight. For example, he was one of the first to make industrial use of electrolysis.
Ernest Solvay was also a man of progressive social ideals, which he implemented within his factories. He established before legal obligations a social security system, pensions for the workers in 1878, an 8-hour workday in 1897, and paid vacations in 1913. After becoming wealthy, he looked to society at large, and founded several scientific, philanthropic, and charitable foundations, including the Institutes of Physiology (1895) and of Sociology (1901), as well as the prestigious School of Business (1903) which still bears his name.
His overriding passion for science was again expressed in 1911 when he organized a meeting in Brussels of most of the famous physicists and chemists of the time. Participants included Marie Curie, Albert Einstein, Max Planck, Ernest Rutherford, Raymond Poincaré and Duke Louis de Broglie. This was the birth of the Solvay international physics council, which has met 20 times between 1911 and 1991, assembling some of the most brilliant scientists in the world. Ernest Solvay bought in 1893 the castle of La Hulpe and was confered the title of Count Solvay of La Hulpe by King Albert I.

The castle of Mielmont was built in the XIIth century on a spur dominating the valley of Sambre. It is protected by four towers, including a donjon with 2.1-m thick wall. Due to the building of the castle directly on the rock, some rooms do not have a single right angle. The castle was severely damaged during the French Revolution and revamped by the Beauffort family in 1870-1875. It is owned today by the de Cock family.

The cave of Spy is one of the most important Paleolithic cave in Europe. It was excavated several times; excavations made in 1886 by the archeologist Marcel de Puydt, the geologist Max Lohest and the paleontologist Julien Fraipont are considered as a milestone in the history of sciences. Their findings were the definitive evidence of the existence of an archaic human being older than the modern man, that is the Neanderthal Man.
The cave opens south-south-west on the valley of Orneau, flowing there in a fomer meander of the Sambre, in layers dating back to Carboniferous (Visean level, 300 millions BP). The cave is made of a main room and a few, short gullies, and has three entrances. The human skeletons found in the cave date back to 40,000-50,000 BP; they belonged to Neanderthal men. The cave was also inhabited in later periods (Later Paleolithic, Neolithic and Gallo-Roman times).
The first excavation in the cave of Spy was made by Dr. Rucquoy, from Namur, in 1879. He found 2500 hyena teeth, deer and reindeer antlers and seven mammoth tusks. In 1885, de Puydt and Lohest started the excavation of the terrace of the cave, using explosives (sic). They found remains of a human skull, flintstones, pottery and bones. They hired the miner A. Orban, who dug a gallery (like in a coal mine) and followed a "lode". The excavation disrupted several layers of settlements, which were irreversibly destroyed. In 1886, the explorers found more human remains and invited Fraipont on the site of the cave. Fraipont wrote a scientific report of the findings and described the skeleton, fairly complete, of a young man, the skull and the arms of an elder woman, bones from a child etc. The remains were dated 40,000-50,000 BP, according to the mammoth remains found beside them. Further campaigns of excavations analyzed the "rubble" from the first excavations and found remains of later periods.
The first Neanderthalian remains seem to have been found around 1700 in Canstadt, near Stuttgart. At that time, nobody dared to identify them as human remains. In 1830, Phlippe-Charles Schmerling, a practitioner from Liège, discovered two skulls in Engis; he claimed they belonged to a fossil human being, but nobody wanted to believe him. In 1857, Dr. Fühlrott analyzed human remains excavated by workers in the valley of Düssel. He identified them as the remains of a fossil human being, but Pr. Virchow, the German top anthropologist at the time, said there were remains of a modern man suffering from rachitism and arthritis. At that time, the Darwinian ideas were not widely accepted and the theory of the evolution of the human being with time was extremely nefarious. The finding of the Spy Man, undoubtly dated, definitively validated Fühlrott's theory and the archaic species Homo neanderthalensis was eventually accepted.
The name of Neanderthal comes from the pastor Joachim Neumann, who vaunted at the end of the XVIIth century the beauty of the valley of Düssel, especially near the village of Mettman, where the remains were found in the cave of Feldhof. Nearly one century before the finding, the name of Neumann was Hellenized into Neander (from neos, new, and ander, man) and the valley was called Neanderthal. Therefore, the "valley of the new man" was named long before remains of the "grand old man" were found there. Following the reform of German orthograph in 1904, the modern writing form of the name of the valley is Neandertal.


Ivan Sache, 3 May 2005

Municipal flag of Jemeppe-sur-Sambre

The municipal flag of Jemeppe-sur-Sambre is divided white-red by a wavy diagonal with the municipal coat of arms in canton.

The official description of the flag, as shown in Armoiries communales en Belgique. Communes wallonnes, bruxelloises et germanophones, is:

Divisé selon la diagonale montante en S, blanc chargé de l'écu communal à la hampe, rouge au large.

The flag was adopted by the Municipal Council on 26 October 1995 and confirmed by the Executive of the French Community on 29 May 1996. The odd division of the flag recalls the curve of the Sambre and the initial of Solvay. Mathematically, such an S-shaped curve aka the sigmoidal curve, represents the Verhulst function - the growth curve of a population with a limited carrying capacity, the upper asymptote.

The municipal coat of arms is:

Gules a chevron argent three roses of the same placed two and one.

Servais shows the municipal coat of arms of Jemeppe, before the administrative reform, as:

Gules billetty argent a lion or.

Those arms were granted on 4 February 1930, and belonged to Knight Antoine Mallet, who built the castle of Jemeppe in the XIIIth century.

Arnaud Leroy, Pascal Vagnat & Ivan Sache, 3 May 2005