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Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities

CUT-Xanten, Insula 22. Image: Stefan Pricher, AdRP

Living and Working on the Periphery of the Roman Town Colonia Ulpia Traiana (CUT)

Project Leader 2018-19: Prof. Dr. Eckhard Deschler-Erb | Archaeology of the Roman Provinces

Funded by the Fritz-Thyssen Foundation

The Roman town Colonia Ulpia Traiana (CUT) was located in what is now Xanten and never saw any further construction in the post Roman period. Archaeological research and excavations have been carried out in and around CUT since the 16th century and particularly since the 19th century, culminating in the founding of the LVR Archaeological Park (APX) in 1973. Thanks to legislation protecting archaeological monuments, archaeologists have since had an almost unique opportunity to explore all facets of a Roman town in one of the north-western provinces. The APX is thus an ideal environment for future archaeologists to learn their craft in the field and to improve on their existing skills. A four-year research project (2016-2019) run by the Archaeological Institute of the University of Cologne, on the one hand, provides a training opportunity with regard to all aspects of modern excavation, including 3D surveying and 3D documentation, and, on the other, enables researchers to scientifically study a hitherto largely unknown residential quarter of CUT (Insula 22) in greater detail. After two years of the project being funded by the institute’s own resources, the excavation is now being supported by the Fritz-Thyssen Foundation. The primary focus of the excavations is a large multi-phase building on the northern periphery of the ancient quarter from the time of the colonia (from the late 1st century CE onwards), of which one of the features was an elaborately designed entrance area with a water basin. Pits full of a vast array of materials found beneath this building point to an early phase of Roman settlement in Xanten which began early in the 1st century CE.Besides cooperating with the APX and its team of scientists, the research project is also able rely on collaboration with the Cologne University of Applied Sciences (Faculty of Civil Engineering and Environmental Technology + Faculty of Computer Science) and the Institute of Integrative Prehistory and Archaeological Science (IPNA) of the University of Basel CH. This allows us, on the one hand,to break new ground with regard to compiling a complete three-dimensional record of an archaeological excavation and, on the other, to include the ancient animal and plant remains in the analysis and interpretation of the features uncovered from the outset.

Text: Eckhard Deschler-Erb


Archaeology of the Roman Provinces
Prof. Dr. Eckhard Deschler-Erb

Researchers: Stefan Pircher, Stefanie Braun, Sabrina Geiermann

E-mail edeschle(at)