Roman Canal and Road Uncovered in The Netherlands near UNESCO heritage sites

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Roman Canal and Road Uncovered in The Netherlands near UNESCO heritage sites

Researchers in the Netherlands discovered a 2,000-year-old ‘highway’ alongside a 33-feet (10-meter) wide canal that was used by the Roman army.

Researchers in the Netherlands have uncovered a rare 2,000-year-old ‘highway’ alongside a 33 feet (10 metre) -wide canal that were used by the Roman army. Pictured: the ditches on each side of the road can be see here cutting across the trench dug by archaeologists

The canal would most likely have carried ships bearing soldiers, construction materials and food supplies between the city of Nijmegen and the Rhine.

Experts from the archaeological consultancy firm RAAP made the finds in the municipality of Oosterhout, south of Rotterdam.

The team’s excavations are being conducted along the route of the Wolferen-Sprok dyke, which is due for reinforcement to meet new high water safety standards.

The canal (pictured as the lighter area of earth running diagonally across the centre of the image) would most likely have carried ships bearing soldiers, construction materials and food supplies between the city of Nijmegen and the Rhine

‘The canal is large enough for ships from Roman times — these were probably mainly army ships that transported soldiers but also food, building materials and other things,’ the researchers said. 

‘There is a good chance that this canal connected Nijmegen and the Rhine. Nijmegen was an important city in Roman times.

The team’s excavations (pictured) are being conducted along the route of the Wolferen-Sprok dyke, which is due for reinforcement to meet new high water safety standards

‘The Rhine was then the frontier of the Roman Empire. Many Roman soldiers were therefore stationed along the Rhine.

‘The soldiers had to be able to move easily and needed a lot of stuff. The canal thus played an important role. Just like the uncovered road.’

Alongside the road and canal, the archaeologists also unearthed several Roman artefacts, including an oil lamp, an iron spearhead, a bronze hook and a silver pin.

The Roman-era finds are not the only discoveries the archaeologists have made by the dyke, however. 

Alongside the road and canal, the archaeologists also unearthed several Roman artefacts, including an oil lamp (pictured) an iron spearhead, a bronze hook and a silver pin.

In March, they found a skeleton from the time of Charlemagne.

The 1,200-year-old skeleton has since been transported to an archaeological centre in Gelderland for further analysis. 

The Wolferen-Sprok dyke improvement will see the 9.3 miles (15 kilometres) long embankment reinforced as part of the Flood Protection Program led by the Dutch Directorate-General for Public Works and Water Management.

‘The Rhine was then the frontier of the Roman Empire. Many Roman soldiers were therefore stationed along the Rhine,’ the team explained.
The Roman-era finds are not the only discoveries the archaeologists have made by the dyke, however — in March, they found a skeleton from the time of Charlemagne . The 1,200-year-old skeleton has since been sent to an archaeological centre in Gelderland for further analysis

‘Because the Netherlands wants to prevent a disaster, strict safety standards are applied to our dykes,’ the researchers explained.

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In the period between now and 2050, the Netherlands plans to reinforce a total length of around 800 miles (1,300 kilometres) of dykes across the nation. 


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