Archaeologists discover a Roman temple in Bonn

Random find during an excavation with students

During an apprenticeship excavation, scientists and students of the University of Bonn set free a Roman temple on the university campus in Poppelsdorf, which was probably used in the first and second centuries after Christ. © Frank Rumscheid / Uni Bonn
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Archaeologists have made a surprising discovery in Bonn: During a teaching excavation they came across the remains of a Roman temple from around 100 AD. "The characteristic floor plan of the arranged stones gave us the indication that this is the foundation of a so-called Gallo-Roman collodion, " says excavation leader Frank Rumscheid, Professor of Classical Archeology at the University of Bonn. Such a temple usually consists of a room with a circulating open arcade. This type of temple was widely used in the Gallic, Germanic and British provinces of the Roman Empire, explains the researcher. The find, however, is a regional rarity. Because from the area around Bonn-Poppelsdorf no such Roman activities were previously known.

It was already known that the Romans had built a legion camp further north. This is still reflected today in the district name Bonn-Castell. "It is striking that the temple now found on the campus Poppelsdorf compared to the military camp and the Roman settlement was located a bit further away from the Rhine, " notes Rumscheid. The temple may therefore have belonged either to a slightly outlying estate or to a shrine with possibly further buildings. Which deity was dedicated to the temple, however, can not be recognized.

The temple was discovered by a team of students and scientists from the University of Bonn. The scientists had from a previous excavation by a contractor the indication that there is any foundation in the underground. Only the teaching excavation by the university archaeologists then brought clarity. "We only realized after about two weeks that it is a Gallo-Roman colloquium, " reports Rumscheid.

Temple walls made of wood or clay

Floor plan of the roman campus: In the excavation area on the new campus Poppelsdorf of the University of Bonn, two almost square foundations of loose, white and gray stones stand out; the inner foundation carried a room with a door, the outer supports for a thought-out approach. Ulrich Mania / Uni Bonn

The researchers discovered in the ocher-brown clay of the district Poppelsdorf on two almost square foundations of loose, white and gray stones. The relics show that the temple was about 6.75 meters wide and about 7.5 meters long. "Except for the foundations of smaller rocks stuck in the clay, no further material was found during the excavation, so the temple was probably made of cheap building materials such as wood and clay, " says Ulrich Mania, also archaeologist of the University of Bonn.

As the researchers report, the inner foundation of the temple once bore a room with a door. Around it was probably a lower, roofed, paved roofing, whose columns rested on the outer rectangular foundation. In addition to the foundation stones, the archaeologists also discovered further finds from the Roman period, including roof tiles, iron nails and, above all, potsherds. Some ceramic shards from pre-Roman times were also included, the researchers report. The earliest date back to the eighth century BC. display

After securing and documenting the building remains and finds, the excavation area was closed again. "For a scientifically sound replica of the temple, the surviving remains were not enough, " Rumscheid said. In addition, it was necessary to make sure that no one could fall into the excavation area and hurt himself. However, the researchers want to tackle further scientific projects in the area and, above all, continue to reconstruct the Roman past of Bonn. "Our picture is still patchy, " says the archaeologist.

(University of Bonn, 04.05.2012 - NPO)