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Ruins of 1,700-year-old Roman fort found in Germany solving centuries old mystery

Ruins of 1,700-year-old Roman fort found in Germany solving centuries old mystery

The discovery confirms rumours that have been circulating for over a century.

Residents of Aachen, Germany - a city near the Belgium-Netherlands border in western Germany - long believed that their town was once home to a grand Roman fortress.

After 140 years or so of these rumours floating around, they have been confirmed to be true.

During a construction project this year, archaeologists uncovered a 1,700-year-old fortress in the centre of Aachen city identifying it to be of Roman heritage.

The discovery was made while utility company Regionetz was updating the water, gas, and electricity lines, and its partner sk ArcheoConsult, an archaeology firm, was scoping the site for artifacts.

Jace & Afsoon/Unsplash
Jace & Afsoon/Unsplash

While excavating, the research team came across the ruins of an old stone wall and immediately identified it as Roman.

'During the repair of a canal house connection, the foundation of a mighty masonry was exposed, which due to the construction technology must be of Roman era,' Dr. Donata Kyritz, an archaeologist and the owner of sk ArcheoConsult, stated in the city’s press release.

'The way the wall was built left no doubt it had to be of Roman origin,' Dr. Kyritz explained in a separate interview with LiveScience.

'The concrete-like mortar and the choice of rock was typical for the Roman period. Also, the dimensions and the way the foundation was built differed from the technique used in medieval times.'

Stefan Herrmann/City of Aachen
Stefan Herrmann/City of Aachen

So far, the archaeologists have unearthed a piece of the wall measuring 23 feet long and 35 inches wide, as well as pottery and animal bones. The researchers still do not know the full extent of the structure.

Historical records suggest that the wall was constructed in the third century C.E. as a defence mechanism against increasing barbarian invasions.

The city had been devastated by Frankish raids around 275 C.E., causing the Romans to build a defensive fort - called a castrum - around the city’s market square.

'We know that the castrum was built as a reaction [to] raids by Germanic tribes around 275 and 276 A.D.,' described Andreas Schaub, an archaeologist working on the excavation.

'We don’t know if there were many soldiers to run the castrum or if the inhabitants had to defend themselves. But what we know is that it works. We have no indication of any big destruction after the castrum was built.'

Featured Image Credit: Stefan Herrmann/City of Aachen