Monday, May 1, 2017

Sandals at the Saalburg Roman fort

On the Taunus ridge northwest of Bad Homburg, Hesse, Germany lies the Saalburg Roman fort. It dates to 90AD and served as a linear border fortification along the Limes Germanicus to protect the boundary between the Roman Empire and the Germanic tribal territories. Original there was a simple dry built wood-and-earth fort built to house a numerus (about 160 men or 2 centuriae).

Later the numerus fort was replaced with a much larger (3.2 hectare) fort for a cohort, a unit of about 500 men. In the reign Hadrian, c. AD 135, The new castle with mortared stone walls and an earthen ramp was reoriented to face the growing Roman city of Nida (now Heddernheim). It remained active until around 260 AD., with up to 2,000 people lived in the fort and the attached village. The fort fell into disrepair after increasing Germanic attacks, campaigns in the East of the Empire and internal political problems forced Rome to abandon the Limes Germanicus. Sometime during the 19th century it was rediscovered, excavated, then later fully reconstructed. It’s now a UNESCO World Heritage site and houses

The Saalburg Museum contains many Roman relics, including shoes. Most are constructed like military caligae, with a one-piece upper nailed between layers of the sole.

Many on display have large open-work areas made by cutting or punching circles, triangles, squares, ovals, etc. in rows or grid-like patterns. Others were more enclosed, having only holes for the laces. There are dainty women’s and children’s shoes still with thick nailed soles. During excavations in a nearby well they found a 2,000 year old shoe.