Archeologists studying Roman ruins discovered in the heart of Cologne have determined they come from a Roman library built in the first half of the second century CE (Common Era).
After a year of studying the ruins, it was only just discovered that indents within the walls were cupboards designed to store scrolls. It’s possible the library held up 20,000 scrolls.
Dr. Dirk Schmitz from the Germanic-Roman museum of Cologne told the Guardian, “It took us some time to match up the parallels, we could see the niches were too small to bear statues inside. But what they are are kind of cupboards for the scrolls.”
“They are very particular to libraries, you can see the same ones in the library at Ephesus.”
“It dates from the middle of the second century and is at a minimum the earliest library in Germany, and perhaps in the north-west Roman provinces,” he said.
“Perhaps there are a lot of Roman towns that have libraries, but they haven’t been excavated. If we had just found the foundations, we wouldn’t have known it was a library, it was because it had walls, with the niches, that we could tell.”
“It is in the middle of Cologne, in the marketplace, or forum the public space in the city center, it is built of very strong materials, and such buildings, because they are so huge were public.”
The city of Cologne was founded in the first half of the first century CE it was then called Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippiinensium, the city was established in the Rhineland a common term for West Germany the Romans called it Germania.
However, the city wasn’t the first settlement on the site, almost a century earlier a Germanic tribe known as the Ubii, in 50BCE, the Roman Empire under the rule of Julius Caeser formed an alliance with the tribe in order to launch attacks across the river.
Sixteen years later in 39 BCE the Ubii beseeched the Romans to help them relocate to the east bank in order to avoid attacks by an opposing tribe The Chatti.
The Ubii went to have a healthy relationship with the Roman Empire even filling the ranks of the Germanic bodyguards, the imperial guard responsible for protecting the Emperors within the Julio-Claudian Dynasty. This was the first Roman Imperial Dynasty and it’s first five Emperors, Augustus, Tiberius, Caligula, Claudius, and Nero.