32. Frontiers of the Roman Empire

32. Frontiers of the Roman Empire. World Heritage across three continents

Session Chairs: Marinus Polak, René Ployer & Stéphanie Guédon
Affiliation: Radboud University Nijmegen, the Netherlands
Affiliation of co-organiser: Bundesdenkmalamt Österreich, Austria
Affiliation of second co-organiser: Université de Limoges

Session Abstract
: Since the early 2000s it has been the ambition to create a UNESCO World Heritage Site encompassing all the frontiers of the Roman Empire, across three continents. If the World Heritage Committee accepts the recent nominations of the western part of the Danube Limes (2018) and of the Lower German Limes (2020), all of the European frontier sections from the Antonine Wall in Scotland to the Hungarian/Croatian border will be part of the World Heritage List by the time the 2021 Limes congress will take place. The nominations of the eastern part of the Danube Limes and the Dacian Limes are expected soon to follow.

It is evident that the frontiers of North Africa and the Middle East have much to contribute to a shared world heritage monument, by their very different landscape setting and their many impressive aboveground remains. It is the aim of the proposed session to strenghten the bonds between archaeologists and heritage experts from the three continents, to obtain a better view of the remains of the frontiers outside Europe and to explore their potential to meet the requirements of World Heritage. Another focus should be the consideration of the possibilities for a common management system for the Frontiers of the Roman Empire.

The session will be open to comparative analyses of frontier sections, to overviews of remains of frontiers outside Europe and their history, of distinctive characteristics of these sections and to preservation and management. Colleagues from North Africa and the Middle East are emphatically encouraged to participate. The session is not intended for papers discussing individual sites.

Time Presenter (s) Presentation
13.30 Rien Polak Frontiers of the Roman Empire: World Heritage across three continents – Context of the session
13.50 Özge Deniz Toköz The Eastern Limes: Observations Towards a Sustainable Nomination Strategy for the Anatolian Frontier
14.10 Markus Gschwind Roman Syria in view of the UNESCO World Heritage Cluster Frontiers of the Roman Empire
14.30 Aomar Akerraz Le Limes de Tingitane
15.20 Claudia Reinprecht World Heritage of the Roman frontiers – a 6,000km World Heritage Site?
15.40 Stephanie Guedon Frontiers of the Roman Empire-UNESCO World Heritage and frontier perspectives
16.00 Christof Flugel & Nigel Mils Communicating The Frontiers of the Roman Empire: European Interpretation Frameworks as a Blueprint for the North African Limes?
16.20 Ivana Ozanic Rogulijic & Nemanja Mrdic Living Danube Limes
16.40 Ivana Kosanović From Limes Invisibilis to the UNESCO World Heritage Property – The Danube Frontier in Serbia
17.00 Rebecca Jones Developing a management system for the FRE WHS?
17.20 Adjournment

Frontiers of the Roman Empire: World Heritage across three continents – Context of the session
Rien Polak, Radboud University (Nijmegen, NL), Stéphanie Guédon, Université de Limoges (F), René Ployer, Bundesdenkmalamt Österreich (AT)

This introductory paper sets the context of the session. The history and development of the representation of the Roman frontiers on the UNESCO World Heritage List are briefly outlined, against the background of the concept of World Heritage: the purpose of the List, and why and how the Roman frontiers qualify for it. The main lines for the development of the Roman frontiers as World Heritage were set out in 2004, but a revision of the guidelines of UNESCO necessitated a revision of the strategy in 2017. Since 2021 five frontier sections in Europa are part of the List, stretching from Scotland to Slovakia. It is expected that the remaining European parts will be nominated in the next few years. In the meantime, preparations have started for the nomination of the frontiers in the Middle East and North Africa. In view of the distinct characteristics of the frontiers in these areas the framework used for the selection of frontier sections in Europe may have to be reviewed. This is only one of the many challenges involved in the extension of the concept to other continents. Other topics which will be addressed are the aims and benefits of inscription on the World Heritage List: is it still worthwhile to nominate further frontier sections? And how do we deal with changing ideas on what Roman frontiers were about?

Roman Syria in view of the UNESCO World Heritage Cluster Frontiers of the Roman Empire
Markus Gschwind, Bayerisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege

Firstly, due to different political, cultural, geographical and climatic conditions, the Roman army applied different approaches of frontier control in Europe and the Near East. Secondly, there were changing approaches in military deployment from the 1st century BC to the 7th century AD, and thirdly, there are differences in monument preservation due to different building materials and different post-Roman settlement histories. All these aspects have to be considered in the context of the UNESCO World Heritage cluster „Frontiers of the Roman Empire“. The paper will attempt to give a rough overview of the aspects of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire in Syria that have to be taken into account to meet the criteria of World Heritage. In this context the question will arise as to whether the criteria developed for the European World Heritage Site „Frontiers of the Roman Empire“ can be transferred one-to-one to the Near East.

Le Limes de Tingitane
Aomar Akerraz, Institut National des Sciences de l’Archéologie et du Patrimoine

“Le Limes de Tingitane” a fait l’objet de nombreuses publications dont les dernières sont celles que lui ont consacrés M. Euzennat et R. Rebuffat. Ces derniers ont consacré leurs travaux sur le système défense en Maurétanie tingitane, en particulier dans les régions entre Volubilis et Sala. Des prospections récentes ont permis de dresser une carte plus précise du système défensif aussi bien au sud qu’à l’est de la province romaine de Tingitane. L’intervention propose de fournir une synthèse des travaux anciens et récents sur le limes de cette province limitrophe de la Césarienne et de la Bétique.

The Frontiers of the Roman Empire in North Africa
Mustapha Khanoussi, Institut National du Patrimoine – Tunisia

Unfortunately, the interest shown by the European countries concerned in the recognition of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire as part of the cultural heritage of humanity has not yet been shared by the countries on the eastern and southern shores of the Mediterranean. Far from it. Of the eight countries in these regions that have archaeological remains of these frontiers on their territories that remain to this day, only Tunisia has joined the European countries by inscribing the segment located on its territory on the World Heritage Tentative List in 2012. On 11 February 2021, on the initiative of the Permanent Delegation of Austria to UNESCO and in cooperation with the World Heritage Centre, an informal international conference was held by video conference with the participation of diplomats, focal points and experts from the countries involved in the FRE World Heritage project. In response to the aims of the conference, and as a conclusion to my presentation entitled “The Frontiers of the Roman Empire in North Africa” at the conference, I put forward some proposals to engage the interest and participation of the Maghreb and Near East States Parties in this endeavour. The echoes gathered from colleagues, diplomats and archaeological heritage officials from different countries after this presentation give hope that there is today a real interest in the conservation and valorisation of the frontiers of the Roman Empire and that there is an undeniable will to strengthen international cooperation, especially North-South, with a view to ensuring the inscription of the segments of the countries of the southern and eastern shores of the Mediterranean on the UNESCO World Heritage List. My paper aims to return to this issue and to initiate a discussion between experts on these proposals in order to define an action plan for the coming years.

Frontiers of the Roman Empire-UNESCO World Heritage and frontier perspectives
Stéphanie Guédon, Limoges University

The general approach developed for the nomination of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire in Europe as World Heritage is focused on a traditional point of view, that is to say Romano-centric. This focus, based on a long historiography, had major consequences for the way of considering the peoples living near Roman frontiers and their relationships with the Roman world. The renewed discussions on the notion of Roman frontiers, and the interest in the Roman borders all around the Mediterranean and in particular in the MENAT* zone, that present distinctive landscapes and physiognomy, invite us to shed review the approach of the so-called Roman frontiers and their implications in terms of human settlement, not only military. The objective of this paper is to give new keys of understanding that could enrich our representation of the Roman frontiers, their perception as a World Heritage and their preservation. * Middle East, North Africa and Turkey

Comunicating The Frontiers of the Roman Empire: European Interpretation Frameworks as a Blueprint for the North African Limes?
Christof Flügel, Bavarian Museums Service Munich

The approach of Interpretation Frameworks (IF) for selected sections of the Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage site has now been successfully implemented in several sections of the FRE, starting from Hadrian’s Wall and the Antonine Wall, as well as in Austria and Bavaria and along the Dutch Lower German Limes. An IF is currently being drafted for the ORL. In the first part of the paper we will present the general principles of IFs. The second part will focus on the questions can these principles can be transferred to the sites of the North African Limes or what solutions may be feasible for communicating this important section of the FRE to the general public, taking into account our experience in creating the archaeological park “Quartier Didon” at the World Heritage Site at Carthage (Tunisia).

Living Danube Limes
Ivana Ozanic Roguljić, Mislav Fileš, Institute of Archaeology, Zagreb, Croatia, Nemanja Mrdjic, Insitute of archaeology, Belgrade, Serbia

Living Danube Limes is an EU funded Interreg Danube Transnational Programme project and focuses on connecting, enlivening, researching, preserving, and highlighting the Roman Danube Limes as a transnational cultural heritage of enormous significance to create a sound foundation for a future European Cultural Route. Living Danube Limes stands for valorizing cultural heritage and fostering sustainable tourism by living the common heritage on the Danube Limes as the basis for a cultural route. The project consortium comprises 19 universities, private and public companies from 10 Danube countries, and 27 associated strategic partners. Outputs of the project are the reconstruction of a Roman Danube ship of the 4th century AD. The ship is going to be built using a Roman tool replica, and it will cruise down the entire Danube in 2022 to highlight the connecting character of the Roman Danube Limes. Various research gaps will be closed by applying modern non-invasive archaeological geo-prospection at chosen pilot sites. A Living Danube Limes app will be created to host a comprehensive and easy-to-access archaeological and historical catalogue of the Danube region. Virtual and augmented reality reconstructions of the original Roman Limes infrastructure will be created from the data of the geophysical prosecutions at the project pilot sites and will then be hosted on the Living Danube Limes app. The establishment of a transnational museum cluster will further the typical presentation of the Roman heritage in the Danube Region. The Institute of Archaeology from Zagreb (Croatia) and the Institute of archaeology from Belgrade (Serbia) are project partners in the consortium, and in this paper, we will present the results achieved during the project duration.

From Limes Invisibilis to the UNESCO World Heritage Property – The Danube Frontier in Serbia
Ivana Kosanović, Milica Marjanović, Nemanja Mrđić, Institute of Archaeology, Belgrade

In recent years Roman limes in Serbia became part of a phased, trans-national UNESCO world cultural heritage project “Frontiers of the Roman Empire“. In 2015 a tentative list with sites from Serbian part of the limes was submitted to UNESCO. The national Working group for the nomination of Limes was founded in 2019 by the National Commission for cooperation with UNESCO. These two milestones were turning points for the further development of this complex cultural property in Serbia. Most sites on the Limes have been forgotten and neglected for decades, up to the level that legal protection or cultural property status were never resolved. Today, the importance of the limes is slowly but surely being recognized by both the government and local authorities. Many actions have been undertaken with final goal to improve the state of the limes – the process of legal protection, conservation and presentation of individual sites has begun on many sites. On several sites drone imagery and geophysical surveys have been conducted, while some of them are systematically excavated for the first time. The digitization project of old field documentation from limes has begun, as well as making of the archeological map of Serbia, with limes sites as a test sample. Major project of underwater Sonar surveys in the area of the Iron Gate gorge was conducted, resulting in determining the state of preservation of the remains and a more precise position on the sites. Sites that were submerged in 1970 after building of the Djerdap I Hydroelectric power plant dam are proved to still stand. Several national and international projects were initiated in recent years, such as Itinerarium Romanum Serbiae, Danube Limes Brand, Living Danube Limes, Modeco 2000, all of them directly or indirectly affecting the improvement of the conditions, promotion, visibility, and recognition of the limes. All of these endeavors will hopefully provide the limes sites the attention they deserve and ultimately result in their inscription on UNESCO world heritage list.

Developing a management system for the FRE WHS?
Rebecca Jones, Historic Environment Scotland

When the Thematic Study and Nomination Strategy was presented to UNESCO, it proposed a management system and overarching framework to support international collaboration: A Frontiers of the Roman Empire World Heritage Cluster. This is the first such initiative for World Heritage. “[the Cluster] will enable us to expand from individual sites and properties to an overarching European monument, which may grow to include parts from other continents in the future.” (Ployer et al 2017, 107.) If you consider that the founding mission of UNESCO in 1945 was to advance peace and security by promoting collaboration among nations through education, science and culture, transboundary WH properties should be held up as a paradigm of that desire to ‘develop friendly relations among nations’ and ‘achieve international co-operation’ (United Nations 1945, Chapter 1, Article 1). Yet the realities of both modern-day geopolitics and the necessary bureaucracy that is required both for inscription and staying on the World Heritage list, has resulted in various challenges and a change from the initial vision of a single World Heritage property covering some 20 countries to manageable segments, each defining their own Outstanding University Value as a Frontier of the Roman Empire. But the desire to somehow manage these together as a ‘cluster’ meets those high-level aspirations for countries to cooperate on the identification and management of their shared cultural heritage. This paper will consider common approaches for a management system for the FRE cluster, looking at the methods used by other transboundary WH properties.