Ancient Roman aqueduct unearthed in Nijmegen

Site of a portion of Roman aqueduct discovered in Nijmegen. May 2020
Site of a portion of Roman aqueduct discovered in Nijmegen. May 2020Gemeente NijmegenSupplied photo

Archeologists in Nijmegen have found a section of wall belonging to an ancient Roman aqueduct which once ran from the hills outside Berg en Dal to the legion camp stationed in Nijmegen, the city said in a statement on Saturday. The structure was discovered 3 meters below the surface of a construction pit, which archeologists suspect may have been the remains of a gutter through which water flowed, according to the municipality.

The Romans are likely to have used the aqueduct to channel drinking water to a nearby legion of about five thousand soldiers in what would be the present day neighborhood of Hunnerberg on the city's east side. "From about 71 AD on the Hunnerberg lay the only legion in what is now the Netherlands: the legio X gemina," the city said in a statement. A military city (Canabae legionis) was founded around the camp, where thousands of people also lived and worked. It is estimated that at least 10,000 to 15,000 people lived on the Hunnerberg. The daily need for clean drinking water was greater than what was available locally. The Roman solution is the aqueduct."

The site was closed off after archeologists took samples to learn more about its function. The find is part of a broader protected historical site including which is currently seeking status as a UNESCO World Heritage site. The submission was made by 20 Dutch municipalities, three Dutch provinces, and two German states, with a decision expected next year.

The Zuid-Holland town of Voorburg and Nijmegen in Gelderland are the only two Dutch cities that can trace their origins back to Roman times. The settlement of Noviomagus first received city rites in 98 AD.