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Archaeologists Uncovered a Roman Village Full of Artifacts in Germany

Sep 20, 2015 10:14 PM EDT

After a dig last year in Gernsheim,  in southwestern Germany, archaeologists from Frankfurt University felt intrigued and wanted to learn more. Since then, they have found artifacts from a Roman village that was built in the area after soldiers left their fort behind in 120 AD. 

When the soldiers left, the 50-year-long period of peace, what was known as the "Pax Romana," also began. According to a news release, not much is known about Roman Gernsheim. However, this recent finding does provide more clues than past digs have. 

"We now know that from the 1st to the 3rd 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," Dr. Thomas Maurer, dig leader from the Goethe University, said in the release. 

The most recent findings revealed the foundation of a stone building, fire pits, at least two wells, cellar pits, ceramics, among other small artifacts. However, the objects still need to be dated. 

"We've 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 explained.

(Photo : Thomas Maurer)
Gaming pieces found among the artifacts from Gernsheim.

The archaeologist concluded that the people who lived in the village were most likely family members of the soldiers that had left or tradespeople. 

"A temporary downturn probably resulted when the troops left -- this is something we know from sites which have been studied more thoroughly," said Maurer, who further explained that since stone buildings were already built throughout the "Gernsheim Roman village," this meant that this village was probably very prosperous.

According to the release, the traditional dresses and coins found also signify that the population mainly consisted of people from Gallic-Germanic origins, along with a few "true" Romans. Specifically, the researchers noted that one of the coins found was from Bithynia (Northwest Anatolia).

Two V-shaped ditches, typical of military forts from this time, were also excavated. The researchers noted that when the Romans left, they filled in the ditches with remains from their fort--which of course means that the ditches have recently proven rich for archaeological findings. 

"A stroke of luck for us," Dr. Hans-Markus von Kaenel, professor from the Institute for Archaeological Sciences at Goethe University, said in a statement

As history indicates, the fort was built to take over larger areas to the east of the Rhine around the seventh decade of the 1st century AD. It also allowed for traffic infrastructure to expand, because the location was easily accessible. 

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