Harbours

from the Roman Period to the Middle Ages

The Rhine as a European transportation route

The area of investigation
Amphoras from the Roman harbour in Cologne
The Drachenfels ("Dragon's Rock"), containing stone quarries and a supposed submontane Roman harbour

The Rhine, as a large river flowing through the centre of Europe, was a significant waterway already in prehistoric times. With the arrival of the Romans it became even more important. In order to develop the Germanic provinces, including the construction and maintenance of military and civilian infrastructure, large quantities of raw materials and other goods were required, which were primarily transported by boat. Consequently, the new settlements on the Rhine had harbours with loading and mooring facilities, which are often known but seldom well researched. The same applies to the goods transported: so far, there is no systematic record of their provenance, the quantities involved or where and how they were  transshipped.

Several institutions and organisations have now joined together in a common project to fill the gaps in this research.

In the first phase of the project, known sites will be surveyed thoroughly and the transportation routes of selected groups of commodities, such as pottery or stone, will be determined. In a second phase, the results will be collated in order to reconstruct regional and supraregional distribution systems, particularly in view of the medieval markets that developed later. 

The following institutions are involved:

  • University Bonn 
  • Generaldirektion Kulturelles Erbe Rheinland-Pfalz/Landesarchäologie
  • LVR-Amt für Bodendenkmalpflege im Rheinland
  • Museum Burg Linn in Krefeld
  • Römisch-Germanisches Museum der Stadt Köln
  • LVR-LandesMuseum Bonn


On 15th November 2013 the project will organize a first meeting "
Märkte, Rohstoff- und Warentransporte im Kontext rheinischer Flusshäfen des 1. Jahrtausends n. Chr." in the Egyptian Museum in Bonn.
For further information, please click here

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