Limes and Legion

The impact of the Roman military presence along the Lower German Limes
1 January 2022 until 1 December 2039
Project member(s)
Dr M. Polak (Rien) , Prof. Jan Bemmann (Bonn) , Prof. Salvatore Ortisi (München) , Prof. Michael Schmauder (Bonn)
Project type

For most of the existence of the Western Roman Empire, the river Rhine served as its northwestern boundary. Legionary fortresses, auxiliary forts and watchtowers were scattered along the left bank, from Remagen in the south up to the North Sea coast in the west. During the first century AD, the Lower German Limes, as this frontier section is usually called, was one of the most heavily garrisoned frontiers, with no less than four permanent legionary bases: Bonn, Neuss, Xanten and Nijmegen. While the fortresses of Neuss and Nijmegen were given up in the second century, Bonn and Xanten still had a garrison in the early fifth century.

These four legionary bases are among the most fully excavated in the Roman Empire. The excavated structures and numerous associated finds offer great potential for the comprehension of the construction and working of these city-like military installations, their relationship with the surrounding civil settlement, and their role in and impact on the frontier region.

The primary goal of the project – and a prerequisite for the Academies Programme of which it is part – is the edition of the abundant, but still largely unpublished archaeological sources. Part of its interpretative potential will be explored by a combination of cultural-historical, biological, spatial, quantitative and applied scientific methods, within an interpretative framework that includes aspects such as landscape archaeology, object biographies, acculturation processes and architectural sociology.

The project is a German-Dutch collaboration and builds on the close cooperation that led to the inscription of the Lower German Limes on the World Heritage List as a transboundary property in 2021.

The Nijmegen subproject will be permanently staffed by a postdoc, a PhD student and an assistant for the entire project duration of 18 years and will be led by Dr Rien Polak.


Union of the German Academies of Sciences and Humanities (Academies Programme)


  • Universität Bonn - Germany
  • Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München - Germany
  • LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn (Germany)
  • Municipality of Nijmegen (Netherlands)
  • Archaeological Archive Province Gelderland (Netherlands)
  • Museum Het Valkhof, Nijmegen (Netherlands)
  • National Museum of Antiquities, Leiden (Netherlands)

Contact information