Roman Nijmegen is the largest archaeological site in the Netherlands. The urban and military agglomeration measures almost 500 hectares and comprises two areas with military fortresses, forts and temporary camps and surrounding semi-civilian occupation and cemeteries, two areas of an urban character, a late antique fort and five civilian cemeteries. These spatially and chronologically closely connected elements cover the entire Roman occupation in the Netherlands, from 19 BC onwards until the end of Roman rule in the mid-5th century AD. It is one of the most extensively excavated sites of its kind north of the Alps. Archaeological work has continued almost uninterrupted from 1946 until the present day, and over 50 hectares were excavated. Much of this work has only been published in a provisional way, by means of overviews. Less than 2 % is published according to the modern standards of a standard excavation report.
Of the more recent excavations, the largest one (over 7 hectares) is that by the former Dutch State Archaeological Service (ROB, now RACM) at the Kops Plateau from 1986-1995, that has so far only been published in overview. Presumably built around 12-10 BC, only a few years later than the nearby legionary camp at the Hunerberg (19-12 BC), this is one of the earliest Roman military sites in the Netherlands. Its interpretation as the headquarters of prince Drusus, the first commander in chief of the conquest campaign in Germania magna, and later as a Batavian auxiliary camp, is tentative and needs to be further substantiated. Nevertheless, it is clear that this is one of the key sites for understanding the Roman presence in Nijmegen and in the Netherlands, and without any doubt also for understanding the Roman military expansion to the north until 16 AD. In addition, the fact that it has never been built over means that potentially the complete plan can be recovered. It was not completely excavated and about one third is protected and remains available for future investigations. This contributes to its significance at the national and international level.
Central to the project are the digitization and interpretation of all the field drawings, the publication of a ‘standard’ excavation report and the publication of a dissertation (in English). The PhD research focuses on the analysis of these digitally recreated datasets and the interpretation of the site as a whole. Starting point is that form should not be confused with function: the ‘labelling’ of structures should be avoided. Contextual analyses of objects lay the foundation for the interpretation of people’s interactions with the buildings, structures, and the fort itself; in other words: the way, and by whom, these buildings were used. This implies the complete analysis of closed contexts (latrines; waste-pits; post-holes), their material content, and their associated structures, as well as GIS aided distribution analyses of the artefacts. Artefacts are treated as being more than merely functional tools for the dating of the site. And in this way will it become possible to address questions dealing with functionality, meaning and identity. Research questions deal with the chronology of the fort on the Kops Plateau, the function of separate buildings, the nature of the site and of its inhabitants, its embedding in and its significance for the local area and population as well as for grander Roman military strategies.
Participants Odyssee longitudinal research project:
|Leiden University:||Prof. dr. W.J.H. Willems|
|Drs. Eef Stoffels|
|Bureau Archeologie en Monumenten, Gemeente Nijmegen:||Drs. H. van Enckevort|
|Ing. Tim van der Weyden BA|
|Auxilia, Radbout University Nijmegen:||Dr. M. Polak|
Drs. Camilla Huss
Drs. Sandor Veldman
|Marenne Zandstra MA|
|Drs. René Kloosterman|
|Joost van den Berg MA|