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VETERA AND COLONIA ULPIA TRAIANA (Birten and Xanten) Kreis Moers, Germany.

A double legionary camp on a glacial moraine: just opposite the Roman side of the mouth of the Lippe (Vetera I) and to the E on an adjoining lower terrace (Vetera II). On the site of Vetera I the first camp had been constructed before 12 B.C. and had two successors, under Tiberius and Claudius. Probably under Nero, Vetera I (902 x 621 m) was constructed of stone for the Legio V Alaudae and the Lagio XV Primigenia. It was besieged and destroyed during the rebellion of the Batavi in A.D. 69-70 (Tac. Hist. 4.22f, 28-30, 34-36, 60). After the victory of Civilis in 70 (Tac. Hist. 5.14-18), Vetera II was built, closer to the Rhine, for one legion. From ca. 120 until at least Diocletian times the Legio XXX Ulpia Victrix was garrisoned here. The canabae legionis were located E and SE of Vetera I and probably W of Vetera II. The usable land of the legion extended to the E, W, and S. A civilian settlement, which developed ca. 3 km NW of the camp in Late Augustan or Tiberian times, was elevated by Trajan to the status of colonia and completely rebuilt. Large parts of the town were destroyed by fire before 160, including the forum; they were soon rebuilt with imperial help (CIL XIII, 8036 and 8643). The town still existed in the 4th c.; evidence found in the baths points to a violent end.

One third of Vetera I has been explored. In front of the defensive wall (3 m thick) of sun-dried bricks with wooden facing are two V-shaped trenches. On both sides of the via principalis, oriented E-W, were colonnades. In either half of the camp a legion was stationed; both legions shared the principia and the quaestorium. On each side of the principia was an accommodation for the praetorium. The military tribunes and perhaps also the prefects lived in peristyle houses. Near the W gate a valetudinarium was located. Vetera II was destroyed by a flooding of a branch of the Rhine in the Early Middle Ages. Divers have discovered ruins, and dredging has disclosed small finds.

The Colonia Ulpia Traiana (83 ha) was laid out as a rectangle, the direction of its E side determined by its proximity to a branch of the Rhine. So far, eight gates and doors have been found in the town wall. To the SE of the town center a temple was situated within a large open area, probably the capitol. Another temple seems to have stood near the harbor gate. In the W half of the colonia were large baths (105 x 107 m), serial in arrangement, and an extensive palaestra, opposite which were probably warehouses and an imposing building the size of two building quarters. In three other sections rows of elongated rectangular houses were discovered, often with shops for craftsmen. In the SE corner of the town wall was an amphitheater. Originally a wood and stone structure, it was rebuilt in stone in the 2d c. Almost all finds are at the Rheinisches Landesmuseum in Bonn; a few at a museum in Xanten.


Vetera: H. Lahner, Vetera (1930)MPI; H. v. Petrikovits, “Vetera,” RE VIII A (1958) 1801-34; id., “Die Lagionsfestung Vetera II,” BonnJbb 159 (1959) 89-133MPI; H. v. Petrikovits, Die Innenbauten römischer Legionslager in der Prinzipatszeit (1975).

Colonia Ulpia Traiana: P. Steiner, Xanten (catalog, 1911); H. v. Petrikovits, “Die Ausgrabungen in der Colonia Traiana bei Xante,” BonnJbb 152 (1952) 41-157; H. Hinz, Xanten zur Römerzeit (3d ed., 1967)MPI; G. Binding & C. Rüger in Rheinische Ausgrabungen 20 (1971); C. Rüger, BonnJbb 172 (1972) 293ff.


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