Gallo-Roman Temple of Elst-Westeraam

Principal facade of the Gallo-Roman temple of Elst-Westeraam Principal facade of the Gallo-Roman temple of Elst-Westeraam.
Reconstruction: PANSA BV
Computer still: Jonker & Wu, Rotterdam

In 2002 the Archaeological Department of the City of Nijmegen excavated the Gallo-Roman temple complex of Elst-Westeraam. The site is located half a mile northeast of the previously explored temple beneath the protestant church in the center of today’s village. Both temples faced a stream that separated the two sanctuaries from each other.

In its most impressive appearance the Gallo-Roman temple complex of Elst-Westeraam featured a stone temple, which was built in circa 100 AD. It stood in the middle of a sacred area (temenos) that was demarcated by a palisade, composed of squared posts sawn out of oak and put side-by-side. Within the enclosed area traces indicating the former presence of a well and of various ovens were found. The stone temple had three different timberwork predecessors of considerably smaller dimensions. These wooden shrines did not have a surrounding portico.

Entrance area of the Gallo-Roman temple of Elst-Westeraam The entrance area of the Gallo-Roman temple of Elst-Westeraam was emphasized by means of a 'classic' pronaos.
Reconstruction: PANSA BV
Computer still: Jonker & Wu, Rotterdam

During the excavations some crucial parts of the architectural stonework were found in a pit located in the periphery of the sanctuary. Among these were three column bases and a fragment of a capital representing the Tuscan order, as well as a non-fluted column shaft that once formed part of a column taller than the Tuscan ones. Additionally, numerous fragments of limestone used for the cladding of walls and the tympanum enabled the detailed scientifically based reconstruction by PANSA BV.

The Archaeological Department of the City of Nijmegen, the Research and Consultancy Service for Biological Archaeology and Environmental Reconstruction (BIAX) and PANSA BV together defined what the setting of the temple originally looked like. For the purpose of the PANSA BV reconstruction photographs were taken on carefully selected locations in nature reserve Millingerwaard as to collect images that resemble the setting of the sanctuary in Roman times. The Millingerwaard reserve is located in the Rhine floodplain on both sides of the Dutch/German border close to both Elst and Nijmegen.

The reconstruction process has resulted in a series of computer stills and photomontages showing the Elst-Westeraam Gallo-Roman sanctuary in its natural environment. In 2005 the results of the reconstruction process will be on display in Museum Het Valkhof as part of an exhibition devoted to Nijmegen 2000 years.

Click on the thumbnails for an enlarged view

Tuscan column basis The Gallo-Roman temple of Elst-Westeraam The Gallo-Roman temple of Elst-Westeraam