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According to experts, the library, which was built sometime between 150 and 200 C.E., safeguarded an estimated 20,000 ancient scrolls.
Archaeologists in Germany have come across a fascinating discovery as they have excavated the remains of the oldest library in the country to date.
The Ancient Library is almost 2,000 years old and inside its walls, there are niches that served for the reception of parchments, say experts.
Since the end of the 19th century, the existence of the foundations of a large Roman building was known to experts located on Antoniterstrasse, a few steps from the Schildergasse, the well-known shopping street in Cologne (Germany).
This area was completely annihilated during intense bombings of World War II (the majestic cathedral of Cologne, however, remained standing). Soon after, the site became a courtyard.
From April to November 2017, archaeologists from the Romano-Germanic Museum excavated the 2,000 m² site before the construction of the future center of the Protestant community in Cologne.
The Roman ruins finally came to light and, according to a statement from the Romano-Germanic Museum on August 2, they correspond to the oldest library in Germany, in the middle or second half of the second century AD.
“The oldest ceramic material dates from the Trajan-Hadrian period and that is why we conclude that the building was built in the middle of the second century AD, possibly in the second half of the century,” explains Dirk Schmitz, the director of archaeological excavations.
The area of the excavations is located in the old center of the city, in the southwest corner of the Roman forum, the public space, which occupied more than 200 square meters.
The walls of the recently discovered foundations have an extraordinary width of almost 2 meters and are made out of opus caementicium, the Roman concrete.
The foundations have been preserved to a depth of 3.5 meters.
“The strong walls, the great structure and its location in the forum of the ancient Roman city indicate that it was a public building and the organization of the interior, with some niches still visible, have allowed us to conclude that it was a library,” says Schmitz, referring to the niches or holes made in the interior walls at regular intervals. These peculiar characteristics, 1.8 meters wide and about 80 centimeters deep, were designed for the reception of parchments.
The design of the building, with its interior niches, coincides with that of the old libraries, especially that of Ephesus, in what is today modern-day Turkey.
Most of the foundations of the newly found library will be preserved in their place of origin and some parts of the old library will be visible in the basement of the new building, say experts.