FRANKFURT. In an extensive project, archaeologists
at Goethe University processed and digitally recorded Roman artefacts from
Stockstadt am Main (Bavaria). The work lays the groundwork for future research
and a new conceptualizing of the museum in Stockstadt.
Where Stockstadt am Main is located today,
one of the most important locations of the Roman Main-Limes existed from about
100 to 270 AD. The fort accommodated numerous Roman support troops in
succession, the longest being the cohors I Aquitanorum veterana equitata, a
unit of approximately 500 foot soldiers and 120 horsemen, who were originally recruited
in today’s south western France. The military camp was connected to a sprawling
settlement (vicus) which profited from the garrison and also from trade with
The Roman Stockstadt is above all
internationally known for its Mithras temple (mithraeum), the stone altar of
the Beneficiarii (beneficiarii consulares), a kind of military police and
customs office for the Roman governor, two bronze faces from paradehelmets of
horsemen, and a hoard of coins consisting of 1315 silver coins (denarii).
Today, these artefacts are stored and displayed in the Saalburg Museum, the Archaeological
Collection of the Bavarian State in Munich, and in the Stiftsmuseum Aschaffenburg.
Extensive excavations were only carried
out between 1885 and 1909, and some smaller ones after 1990. Most recently,
excavations in the Roman graveyard were conducted in 2011/2012. Since 2005, the
Roman site has been a part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site Upper German-Raetian
Limes (Obergermanisch-rätischer Limes).
The museums mentioned above are not the
only museums storing finds from Stockstadt; the Heimatmuseum Stockstadt possess
a collection of more than 6000 objects of Roman artefacts, including diverse
objects from daily life and military equipment, but also architectural
components from the fort’s fortification and well-preserved burial objects from
numerous graves. These finds originate mostly from rescue operations and chance
finds at construction sites from the 20th
century by volunteers and private citizens, as well as from official
excavations. The finds, some of whose are of international significance, are
largely unpublished and only exemplarily displayed.
The systematic archiving and indexing of these
inventories for science and the interested public was the goal of a
Bavarian-Hessian cooperative project involving the city Stockstadt a.M., Goethe
University Frankfurt, and the Landesstelle für die nichtstaatlichen Museen in
Bayern (State Office for Non-governmental
Museums in Bavaria), which was concluded after nine months at the end of
2019. The artefacts are now digitally recorded and researchable according to
current standards for cultural assets in a media database of the Landesstelle für die nichtstaatlichen Museen
in Bayern. Beginning in 2020, the database will be accessible online
through the Stockstadt homepage. To achieve this goal, the artefacts had to be
cleaned, sorted according to collection or find site and material, scientifically
identified (at least roughly), and dated. In addition, the objects were
photographed individually or in groups. This collection and securing of data
laid the groundwork for the archiving that accompanied entry of the data into
the media database. Each object was labelled with an inventory number.
All of this work was carried out by a small
team of students with the support of volunteers. The students thus had the
opportunity to gain material knowledge in their area of study and at the same
time obtain insight into practical museum work in the digital age. Dr Alexander
Reis from Obernburg am Main, who works as scientific assistant at the Institute
for Archaeological Sciences (Dept. II) headed the project; his employment was
made possible by third-party funding from the city of Stockstadt for this
project. He is a specialist in provincial Roman archaeology and received his
doctorate at the Goethe University in the Archaeology and History of the Roman
Provinces with the thesis “NIDA – Heddernheim in the 3rd Century AD – studies
on the end of the settlement” (Manuscripts of the Archaeological Museum
Frankfurt 24, Frankfurt a.M. 2010) under Professor Hans-Markus v. Kaenel.
The project has not only yielded an
appreciable added value for archaeological Limes research, it also forms the
basis for a future reconceptualization of the museum’s permanent exhibit. In
the course of the project, it was also possible to transfer the extensive
private collection of the local pharmacist Dr Fred Rattinger (1912-1981) to
public ownership. The ceremonial transfer of the collection took place on
December 2nd as part of a press event.
Pictures can be downloaded here: www.uni-frankfurt.de/83879025
Captions: Picture 1: Sigillata bowl from Gaul, 2nd Century AD; Picture 2: Roman grave from Stockstadt.
Credit: Goethe University
Further information: Professor Markus Scholz, Archeology and History of the Roman Provinces,
Institute for Archeological Scineces, Dept. II, Faculty 9, Westend Campus, Tel.
+49 (0)69 798 32265, email@example.com