Public Release: 

Where are We Going? Limes Research in Germany and in Israel

Department of Ancient Studies at Mainz University convenes conference on Limes research against the backdrop of current crises on Oct. 26-27, 2015

Johannes Gutenberg Universitaet Mainz

This news release is available in German.

A conference to be held by the Department of Ancient Studies of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz and the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum Mainz on October 26th and 27th, 2015 will illustrate how ancient security issues have maintained their topicality. Using the example of the Roman military frontier known as the Limes, archaeologists from Germany and Israel will examine the challenges facing the research of Roman military facilities.

In both Israel and Germany, Limes research has received important new impulses from the current interest in military security. The Negev desert in the south of Israel illustrates how Roman security concepts influenced modern warfare during the 1948 War of Independence. During the German Empire, the Imperial Limes Commission (1892-1936) also had a "Military Director" recruited from the General Staff; soldiers with archaeological training led numerous digs along the 560-kilometer long defensive line of the Limes Germanicus, and, to complete the picture, during the Cold War the Limes once again provided a watershed between one empire and culture in the west and the warrior tribes of barbarians to the east. The Limes in the form of the "Iron Curtain" was the epitome of a divided Europe.

The strategic significance of the military bases along the Roman Limes can be seen today in the Syrian civil war. Sadly, Roman Legion camps such as Palmyra and Dura-Europos have become again centers of fighting. Similarly, the Limes area on the border to the Sinai Peninsula once again represents a significant military challenge to both the Israeli and the Egyptian military.

Against this background, experts from universities, museums, and heritage preservation will be discussing the prospects Limes research holds for coming generations of young scholars at the conference, entitled "Where are We Going? Limes Research in Germany and Israel" to be held in Mainz.

Following an introduction by the initiator of the convention, PD Dr. Hans-Peter Kuhnen from the Department of Ancient Studies at Mainz University, the first part of the event will examine the historical development of Limes research in Germany and Israel. The second block of lectures will look at the current state of research in these two countries. The third block of lectures will look at the perspective for future research. This will be followed by visits to Mainz Limes research institutions, which in addition to the State Museum include the Römisch-Germanisches Zentralmuseum and the Museum of Ancient Seafaring. In addition to the convention program, excursions will be made to selected locations along the Limes Germanicus, which has been a UNESCO World Heritage site since 2005.

"The current military conflicts in Syria, Iraq, and Sinai illustrate that precisely in those locations where the Roman Empire set up the Limes as a military frontier in the 3rd century B.C. there is once again a grave security threat today. Our joint conference will focus on this renewed topicality of Limes research. It enhances the cooperation between the universities of Mainz and Tel-Aviv and contributes to "50 Years of Diplomatic Relations between Germany and Israel". We are very pleased that the Israeli Consul General Dr. Dan Schacham has assumed patronage," emphasized PD Dr. Hans-Peter Kuhnen on behalf of the organizers of the convention.

The conference will take place in the Atrium maximum in the Alte Mensa, Johann-Joachim-Becher-Weg 3-9, on the campus of Johannes Gutenberg University Mainz. Participation in the conference is free of charge, pre-registration is requested.


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