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Frontiers of the Roman Empire

Date of Submission: 04/02/2015
Criteria: (ii)(iii)(iv)
Category: Cultural
Submitted by:
Permanent Delegation of the Federal Republic of Germany to UNESCO
State, Province or Region:
Lower Bavaria, Upper Palatinate
Ref.: 6002
Transnational
Other States Parties participating
Austria
Other Tentative Lists
Frontiers of the Roman Empire
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Property names are listed in the language in which they have been submitted by the State Party

Description

The Roman Empire, in its territorial extent, was one of the greatest empires the world has known. Enclosing the Mediterranean world and surrounding areas, it was protected by a network of frontiers stretching from the Atlantic Cost in the west, to the Black Sea in the east, from central Scotland in the north to the northern fringes of the Sahara Desert in the south. Much of this frontier survives on and in the ground. It was largely constructed in the 2nd century AD when the Empire reached its greatest extent. This frontier was at times a linear barrier, at other times protected spaces, or in some cases a whole military zone.

Substantial remains survive (clockwise from the west) in the UK, The Netherlands, Germany, Austria, Slovakia, Hungary, Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania, Turkey, Syria, Jordan, Israel, Iraq, Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, and Morocco. Starting on the western coast of northern Britain, the frontier in Europe then ran along the rivers Rhine and Danube, looping round the Carpathian Mountains to the Black Sea. The eastern frontier, stretching from the Black Sea to the Red Sea and running through mountains, great river valleys and the desert. To the south, Rome’s protective cordon embraced Egypt and then ran along the northern edge of the Sahara Desert to the Atlantic shore in Morocco. 

The remains include the lines of the linear frontier, natural elements such as the sea, rivers and deserts, and networks of military installations and ancillary features such as roads on, behind and beyond the frontier. These encompass both visible and buried archaeology. Together the inscribed remains and those to be nominated in the future form an extensive relict cultural landscape which displays the unifying character of the Roman Empire, through its common culture, but also its distinctive responses to local geography and political and economic conditions. Each component part is a substantial reflection of the way resources were deployed in a particular part of the Empire.

Hadrian’s Wall, Upper German-Raetian Limes, the Antonine Wall, situated in Great Britain and Germany, are already jointly inscribed on the World Heritage List as Component Parts of Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site (FRE WHS; since 1987, 2005 and 2008 repectively).  The Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria is the westernmost riverine part of the frontier on the southern bank of the Danube, element of a continuous line of frontier installations down to the Black Sea. As this part lies in the territories of Germany and Austria, the nomination of the Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria as an extension of the FRE WHS will therefore be made jointly be the two States Parties.

Name(s) of the component part(s)

 

Municipality

Monument

Structures

Coordinates N

LAT WGS84

Coordinates E

LONG WGS84

Present Situation, State of Conservation

1

Bad Gögging (Lower Bavaria)

Thermal baths

Legionary spa

48,8259

11,7812

Remains preserved and visible, overbuilt by church St Andreas, partly excavated

2

Eining Weinberg (Lower Bavaria)

Watch tower and sanctuary

Roman buildings, watch tower, sanctuary of Mars and Victoria

48,8700

11,7881

Visible remains; not overbuilt

3

Regensburg-Großprüfening (Upper Palatinate)

Fortlet

Fortlet, civil settlement, late antique Burgus

49,0174

12,0369

Visible remains; not overbuilt, area is cultivated (agriculture)

4

Regensburg-Kumpfmühl (Upper Palatinate)

Auxiliary fort

Fort, cemetery

49,0079

12,0840

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt, partly used as cemetery and recreational park

5

Regensburg (Upper Palatinate)

Legionary fortress

Porta Praetoria, parts of the fortress walls, parts of legionary barracks

49,0169

12,1011

Visible remains upstanding, barracks  preserved under the church Niedermünster

6

Pfatter-Gmünd (Lower Bavaria)

Fortlet

Fortlet, civil settlement, cemetery

48,9731

12,4138

Remains not visible on the surface, not overbuilt, area is cultivated (agriculture)

7

Straubing (Lower Bavaria)

Fort and late Roman fortlet

‚Eastern‘ fort, parts of the civil settlement, late Roman burgus

48,8868

12,5916

Remains not visible on the surface, not overbuilt. Area is partly cultivated (agriculture). Archaeological park Straubing with reconstruction of Roman building. Burgus not visible, but preserved under the church St. Peter

8

Künzing (Lower Bavaria)

Fort

Wooden amphitheatre, civil settlement

48,6661

13,0834

Remains not visible on the surface, not overbuilt.

9

Passau-Innstadt (Lower Bavaria)

Fort

Fort, civil settlement

48,5708

13,4773

Remains not visible on the surface, partly overbuilt, partly damaged by floods

10

Passau (Lower Bavaria)

Fortlet BOIOTRO

Late antique fort

48,5700

13,4622

Partly preserved (within a museum dealing with the Roman history of the city), adjacent area overbuilt

11

Passau-Haibach (Lower Bavaria)

Fortlet

Late Roman burgus

48,5747

13,4971

Partly overbuilt, walls preserved

Description of the component part(s)

The nominated section Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria forms the westernmost part of the vast and complex Danube Limes and consists of a number of individual sites located along a stretch of about 500 kilometres from the vicinity of the fort of Eining (Abusina) in Lower Bavaria, where the Upper German-Raetian Limes ends, to Passau at the border to Austria and further on to the area east of Hainburg / Wolfsthal in Lower Austria close to the Slovak border.

The first demarcation line in this area came into existence when the frontier territory was turned into the official Roman provinces Raetia (today in Bavaria), Noricum (today in Austria) and Pannonia (today in Austria and Hungary) during the early Imperial period 2000 years ago. For over 400 years this fortification system constituted the outer borderline of the Roman Empire, protecting it from the tribes to the North. After its abandonment in the 5th century AD, numerous fortification elements were reused during the Middle Ages and survived well preserved into present days.

The frontier system consisted of a chain of fortifications along the southern bank of the Danube using the river as an additional obstacle and as a line of communication, supply and trade route. In the Bavarian part of the Danube Limes we encompass a legionary fortress, several forts, and some watch-towers. Civil settlements and cemeteries lay adjacent to them. At the borders of the river, harbours were established. The individual military installations were linked by a continuous road. The river itself and the temporary fortifications beyond the borderline are not part of the nominated site.

The locations of the Roman frontier installations are a result of the topography on both sides of the Danube as well as of the wish to control the river and the main ancient trade routes across the Alps. The landscape was dominated by narrow gorges of the river like the "Weltenburger Enge", and by wide, fertile plains like the "Gäuboden". The area north of the Danube in Bavaria is characterized by a rather impenetrable wooded low mountain range (the so-called Bavarian Forest). These geographical conditions also determined the deployment of specific types of troops. One can recognize a major difference in the general set up of the frontier: while the forts in the flat countryside are spread regularly within a distance of 15 to 20 kilometres, some parts of the Danube Limes remained nearly unfortified until the middle of the 2nd century AD due to the inaccessible, less populated countryside north of the Danube with dense woodland and rough landscapes.

The single monuments have been selected on the basis of their specific contribution to the Outstanding Universal Value of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site as a whole, their scientific importance, their level of integrity and authenticity and their protection and management regimes.

Justification of Outstanding Universal Value

The Roman Frontier as a whole has an extraordinarily high cultural value. It was the border of one of the most extensive civilizations in human history, which influenced the western world and its peoples for many centuries. It had an important effect on urbanisation and on the spread of cultures among remote regions. The scope and extent of the frontier reflects the unifying impact of the Roman Empire on the wider Mediterranean world, an impact that persisted long after the empire had collapsed. The Frontier is the largest single monument of Roman civilization.

The Frontier illustrates and reflects the complex technological and organisational abilities of the Roman Empire which allowed them to plan, create and protect a frontier of some 5000 km in length, with a garrison of tens of thousands of men, and to manage the social, economic and military implications of this frontier. The frontier demonstrates the variety and sophistication of the Roman response to topography and political, military and social circumstances which include walls, banks, rivers, and sea.

The nominated segment, the Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria, will significantly contribute to the Outstanding Universal Value of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site. The multiform remains of the military infrastructure at the southern edge of the Danube valley reflect the many centuries of Rome’s involvement, during which the border area functioned as:

  • a heavily patrolled frontier;
  • a base for protecting the Roman Empire with the potential to launch campaigns against its enemies;
  • a zone connecting two key areas of the Empire – the northern fringes of the Alpes with the access towards Italy and the Danubian provinces;
  • a crossroads for trade, cultures and ideas.

The many functions fulfilled by the border zone – some concurrent, others successive – are what make the Danube Limes in Bavaria an indispensable contribution to the Danube Limes as part of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

Criterion (ii): The frontiers as a whole reflect the development of Roman military architecture and the impact of the frontier on the growth of transport routes, and urbanisation.

The nominated section of the Danube Limes represents an excellent example of the influence of the Roman rule on the economic and social development of a specific community and territory between the Alps and the river Danube. The locations of the fortifications were influenced significantly by the intent of the Romans to control the river Danube and the main trade routes. The establishment of the fortified frontier system therefore resulted in the development of a stable, permanent trade and exchange network both between the Northern and Southern as well as the Western and Eastern parts of Europe. Consequently, the fortifications and the civil settlements often present a two-folded character combining characteristic elements from Western and Eastern Roman provinces. The complexity and extent of this network is also significantly witnessed by the numerous archaeological findings that have been unearthed at the nominated properties and elsewhere.

Criterion (iii): The Roman frontier is the largest monument of the Roman Empire, one of the world’s greatest preindustrial empires. The physical remains of Limes, forts, watchtowers, settlements and the hinterland dependent upon the frontier reflect the complexities of Roman culture but also its unifying factors across Europe and the Mediterranean world.

Unlike the Roman monuments already inscribed, the FRE’s constructions are evidence from the edges of the Empires and reflect the adoption of Roman culture by its subject peoples. The frontier was not an impregnable barrier: rather it controlled and allowed the movement of peoples within the military units, amongst civilians and merchants, thus allowing Roman culture to be transmitted around the region and for it to absorb influences from outside its borders.

The nominated site of the Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria comprises tangible elements testifying to the function of the river Danube as a frontier of the Roman Empire over a considerable span of time (from the mid-1st century AD until the second half of the 5th century AD). The consequences of the establishment of a permanent frontier are reflected today by the various monuments, whether civil or military. The army and the fortification system played a crucial role for the history and political development of the Northern Roman provinces and are connected with major historical events such as the Marcomannic Wars (166-182 AD) and the activities of Saint Severin in the 5th century AD.

Criterion (iv): The Frontier reflects the power and might of the Roman Empire and the spread of classical culture and Romanisation which shaped much of the subsequent development of Europe.

The establishment and structure of the military installations in the nominated segment clearly demonstrate the ability of the Roman army to adjust its defense system to the prevalent geographical and demographical conditions. This can be seen inter alia by the deployment of the troops (cavalry, infantry and mixed units). The towers and gates of the fortifications which often survived up to the second level within medieval buildings represent outstanding examples of the technological development of the Roman military architecture and frontier defense.

Statements of authenticity and/or integrity

Authenticity: The sites within the nominated property in Bavaria have a high level of authenticity that has been proven by scientific investigation. The character of the monument as a whole and the original state of conservation of the single sites that are included in the nomination have been respected to a large extent. Small parts have been excavated and are presented to the public.

Integrity: The level of integrity of the nominated segment of the Danube Limes in Bavaria is high: Of all the elements that constituted the former border line, i. e. fortresses, forts, fortlets, watch-towers, civil settlements, parts have been preserved and will be included in the nomination. The selected properties are able to illustrate the main periods and the full range of the facets of the Roman rule on this part of the border of the Empire. Archaeological excavations have demonstrated that remains of the Limes monuments have survived remarkably well below ground, even in settled or urban areas.

Justification of the selection of the component part(s) in relation to the future nomination as a whole

The selection of the component parts of the Danube Limes in Bavaria is according to the Koblenz Declaration of 2004 and also to the following aspects of

  • a representation of all elements of the Roman Frontier, to illustrate the great diversity
  • the Time depth, to illustrate the long period of use, and
  • diversity of elements, to illustrate the functioning of the Roman frontier in this particular part.

The Danube Limes in Bavaria as part of the FRE WHS consists of the line of the frontier at the height of the empire from Trajan to Septimius Severus, and military installations of different periods which are on that line. The installations include e.g. legionary camps, fortresses, forts, towers, burgi, and immediately associated civil structures including baths.

Comparison with other similar properties

The Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Site is a serial nomination for which the participating States Parties have agreed that all component parts should have OUV. This means that the overall Frontier will eventually be represented by a series of components that will each display particular and significant characteristics of the Frontier, and together the components as a series will show how the Frontier reflected substantial and distinctive responses to local topographical and political conditions as well as the unifying forces of the Empire.

For the Bavarian part of the Danube Limes in Austria and Bavaria, the emphasis is on the continuous chain of forts and military installations, partially under medieval towns and cities.