Archaeologists have discovered the remains of a Roman road and a Roman aqueduct near Nijmegen. The buildings, some 2,000 years old, are supposed to have served as important transport links between nearby Limes and Roman settlements in the area around Nijmegen. Along these ancient traffic routes, researchers have also found the remains of many Roman homes and warehouse buildings.
The Dutch city of Nijmegen has its roots in ancient Roman times. As early as 19 BC there were many Roman military bases and branches there. Perhaps the reason for this was the strategic location on the banks of the Waal River. Today it forms the southern and widest part of the mouths of the Rhine, but it held less water in Roman times. The Limes, the western frontier of the Roman Empire in this region, was not along the Waal River, but to its north along the Lower Rhine.
Roman road on the north bank of the river Wal
During excavations at Oosterhout, northwest of Nijmegen, researchers from the Dutch Archaeological Foundation RAAP have now discovered traces of a wide Roman road and an ancient aqueduct. According to dating, both of them are around 2000 years old. The Roman road follows the north bank of the Waal River and could have been part of a long-distance connection between Roman Cologne and the Valkenburg branch on the North Sea coast, archaeologists have explained. For the road along the Waal River was shorter than the Limes Road to Arnhem today and then to the West.
The unearthed traces show that the Roman road was paved with a mixture of sandy silt and gravel. The pebbles were probably mined in the immediate vicinity, perhaps in the Nijmegen lateral moraine, and could then be transported by ship up the Waal River to Osterhout. The surface of the ancient Roman road was slightly inclined to the sides so that water could drain into ditches along the side of the road. In the immediate vicinity of the Roman road, archaeologists have also discovered the remains of a Roman house.
The canal connected the Waal and Lower Rhine rivers
Not far from the Roman road, researchers found another structure from the Roman era: an aqueduct more than ten meters wide. This would have linked the Waal River with the Lower Rhine thus enabling a direct shipping connection from Nijmegen to Limes, according to the RAAP announcement. Along the canal, excavations have revealed the remains of several Roman houses that were lined up next to each other on the canal bank. Remains of everyday ancient objects such as amphora, oil lamps, glass and clothespins have been found in the buildings.
In addition, the ruins of the so-called horum, a type of Roman warehouse, have been excavated. She suggests that this settlement may have served as a port and transit point for goods. Because, as archaeologists have shown, the arteries of the Roman Empire also constituted attractive places for settlement and trade. Therefore, it is likely that the settlement along the canal slowly increased in size over the course of the first century.
However, there are indications that the channel began to silt up shortly afterwards, archaeologists report. This is probably closely related to the departure of the Romans from Nijmegen around the year 105 – after which the road and the aqueduct are no longer maintained. In general, the discovery of the Roman aqueduct and road indicates that the Roman infrastructure between Wall and Limes was more developed than previously assumed.
“Alcohol buff. Troublemaker. Introvert. Student. Social media lover. Web ninja. Bacon fan. Reader.”