London, Sep 18 (IANS) Archaeologists have discovered the relics of a Roman village in Gernsheim, Germany, built in part on the foundations of a fort after the soldiers left, around 120 AD.
A troop unit with about 500 soldiers (cohort) was stationed in this area between 70/80 AD and 110/120 AD.
The people who settled in the village around the fort were primarily family members of the soldiers and tradespeople who benefited from the purchasing power of the military, the researchers said.
When the cohort was transferred from the Rhine to the Limes, a period of peace lasting until about 260 AD began for the Roman village.
“We now know that from the first to the third century an important village-like settlement or ‘vicus’ must have existed here, comparable to similar villages already proven to have existed in Groß-Gerau, Dieburg or Ladenburg”, said dig leader Thomas Maurer from Goethe University in Frankfurt, Germany.
During their second excavation campaign, the team uncovered the well preserved foundation of a stone building, fire pits, at least two wells and some cellar pits.
“We have also found real treasures such as rare garment clasps, several pearls, parts of a board game (dice, playing pieces) and a hairpin made from bone and crowned with a female bust,” Maurer noted in a statement released by Goethe University on Thursday.
“A temporary downturn probably resulted when the troops left – this is something we know from sites which have been studied more thoroughly”, Maurer added.
However, stone buildings were already erected in the “Gernsheim Roman village” during the second century, which suggests that the settlement was prospering.
The population probably had mainly Gallic-Germanic origins, with perhaps a few “true Romans” – persons with Roman citizenship who moved here from faraway provinces.
This is illustrated by specific archaeological finds, most notably pieces of traditional dress but also coins.
One of the historic finds from Gernsheim is a coin from Bithynia (Northwest Anatolia), which was certainly not among the coins in circulation in Germania Superior but would instead have been a form of souvenir.
The significance of Gernsheim am Rhein during the Roman times is supported by its easily accessible location, with a road to Mainlimes branching from the main Mainz-Ladenburg-Augsburg road.