Residence of the Roman Commander

Residence of the 
Roman Commander Reconstruction: PANSA BV
Computer still: Marla Smith, Austin TX

The house of the commander, the praetorium, of the encampment on the Kops Plateau at Nijmegen was built in approximately 10 BC. During the excavations almost the entire plan of the building could be documented. The praetorium incorporated guest quarters that may have accommodated the Roman supreme commander Drusus while he coordinated the actions on the left flank of the military operations against the Germanic tribes (12 BC - AD 16).

The praetorium (32.7 x 61.9 m) was built on the edge of an ice-pushed ridge overlooking enemy territory in the distance. It consisted of a formal-representative part and domestic quarters. The former was built around a central hall, an atrium. It accommodated various offices, a service area and an impressive reception hall that offered a view over the river Waal basin and the Ooijpolder.

The residential area consisted of two wings that were built along a U-shaped colonnaded courtyard. The wing built next to the formal-representative part of the complex accommodated the private quarters of the commander who stayed at the command post permanently. We also found traces that indicate the presence of a service area in this part of the residential area. Opposite the courtyard and separated from the rest of the praetorium a second unit of private quarters has been distinguished by PANSA BV. This unit had a service area, including sanitary provisions and a kitchen, of its own. This more or less independent eastern unit will have accommodated the Roman supreme commander.

The praetorium on the Kops Plateau The praetorium on the Kops Plateau was built on the edge of an ice-pushed ridge, providing those who were present in the commander’s residence with a view over the river valley and enemy territory in the distance.
Photo: PANSA BV, Nijmegen

From the praetorium building only postholes and other traces indicating that the complex was built in wooden framework were found. Despite its building technique the praetorium may not be considered a primitive building. PANSA BV was able to demonstrate that the layout and the way rooms were worked out into detail closely corresponded to contemporary domestic architecture in the Mediterranean.

The reconstruction of the praetorium on the Kops Plateau was commissioned by Museum Het Valkhof in Nijmegen. A scale model supervised by PANSA BV is on display in the museum.

Click on the thumbnails for an enlarged view

Scale model of the praetorium 
on the Kops Plateau in Nijmegen Birdís-eye view 
of the praetorium Atrium zone section