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Research Projects of the University of Cologne‘s Faculty of Arts and Humanities 2017/2018

The UNESCO World Heritage Nomination Lower Germanic Limes

Image: Romano-Germanic Museum Cologne

Roman Military Facilities in the Cologne Metropolitan Area

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

Sub-project of the UNESCO World Heritage Nomination of the Lower Germanic Limes funded by the Ministry of Health, Equalities, Care and Ageing of the State of North Rhine-Westphalia

The external frontiers of the Roman empire form the largest linear archaeological monument in Europe. Several sections (Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall in Great Britain and the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes in Germany) are already part of the transnational UNESCO World Heritage site “Frontiers of the Roman Empire”. Preparations are currently underway for an application for the Lower Germanic Limes (LGL) to also have the same status. Along a 385 km section of the frontier, which is partly located in the Netherlands and partly in Germany, garrisons of the Lower Germanic army, which comprised twenty to forty thousand soldiers, lined the banks of the River Rhine between the coastline of the North Sea and the Vinxtbach in present-day Rhineland-Palatinate.
At least three archaeological monuments associated with the LGL are located within the city limits of Cologne:

1)  The “Alteburg” fort at Cologne-Marienburg,
     headquarters of the Roman Rhine fleet
2)  The Late Antique Divitia fortress at Cologne-Deutz
3)  The Praetorium, which acted as a seat for the supreme
     commander of the Lower Germanic forces

The submission of the nomination dossier for the LGL is planned for 2020. The preparatory work will initially entail compiling a detailed report on the current state of the military facilities and on what is known about them.
The second step will be to devise and develop a protection and maintenance plan in collaboration with urban and regional development as well as the development of improved access to the individual monuments of the LGL and its associated museums under the umbrella of a joint corporate design. In addition, we aim to formulate and discuss general research questions that will include both the limes forefront and hinterland.
The Department of Archaeology of the Roman Provinces of the Institute of Archaeology will be directly involved in this preliminary work. Funding was provided by the Ministry of Health, Equalities, Care and Ageing of the state of North Rhine-Westphalia for a researcher and assistant to begin employment at the Institute of Archaeology in April 2017. He has been tasked with reviewing all the relevant archive documentation and publications issued to date in order to compile an expert report on the military facilities of the LGL in the city of Cologne and to put together all the necessary information so as to be able to compose the part of the UNESCO nomination dossier that specifically relates to Cologne.

Text: Eckhard Deschler-Erb


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

Researchers: Sandra Rung, Martin Wieland
Cooperation partners: Romano-Germanic Museum Cologne (Marcus Trier); MiQua. LVR Jewish Museum in the Archaeological Quarter of Cologne (Thomas Otten); LVR Department of Archaeology in Rhineland (Jürgen Kunow und Steve Bödecker)

E-mail edeschle(at)