Limes (Roman Empire)
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The ''līmes'' (
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...

Latin
, plural: '' lat, līmitēs'') is a modern term used primarily for the Germanic
border Borders are boundaries of or legal s, such as s, , , and other . Borders are established through agreements between political or social entities that control those areas; the creation of these agreements is called . Some borders—such as mos ...

border
defence or delimiting system of
Ancient Rome In historiography Historiography is the study of the methods of historian ( 484– 425 BC) was a Greek historian who lived in the 5th century BC and one of the earliest historians whose work survives. A historian is a person who stud ...
marking the
borders of the Roman Empire The border Borders are boundaries of or legal s, such as s, , , and other . Borders are established through agreements between political or social entities that control those areas; the creation of these agreements is called . Some border ...
, but it was not used by the Romans for that purpose. The term has been extended to refer to the frontier defences in other parts of the empire, such as in the east and in Africa. The ''līmes'' is often associated with Roman
forts A fortification is a military A military, also known collectively as armed forces, is a heavily armed, highly organized force primarily intended for warfare War is an intense armed conflict between State (polity), states, ...

forts
, but the concept could apply to any adjoining area the Romans exercised loose control with military forces.


Overview

The Roman frontier stretched for more than from the Atlantic coast of northern
Britain Britain usually refers to: * United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United ...

Britain
, through Europe to the
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Black Sea
, and from there to the
Red Sea The Red Sea ( ar, البحر الأحمر, translit=al-Baḥr al-ʾAḥmar; or ; Coptic Coptic may refer to: Afro-Asia * Copts, an ethnoreligious group mainly in the area of modern Egypt but also in Sudan and Libya * Coptic language, a North ...

Red Sea
and across North Africa to the Atlantic coast. The remains of the ''limites'' today consist of vestiges of walls, ditches, forts, fortresses, and civilian settlements. Certain elements of the frontier have been excavated, some reconstructed, and a few destroyed. The two sections of ''limes'' in Germany cover a length of from the north-west of the country to the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
in the south-east. The 118 km long
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provincia ...

Hadrian's Wall
was built on the orders of the Emperor
Hadrian Hadrian (; la, Caesar Traianus Hadrianus ; 24 January 76 – 10 July 138) was Roman emperor from 117 to 138. He was born into a Roman Italo-Hispanic family, which settled in Spain from the Italian city of Atri, Abruzzo, Atri in Picenum. Hi ...

Hadrian
c. AD 122 at the northernmost limits of the Roman province of
Britannia Britannia () is the national personification upright=0.9, An early example of National personification in a gospel book dated 990: Germania.html"_;"title="Sclavinia,_Germania">Sclavinia,_Germania,_Sclavinia,_Germania,_Gallia">Germania.ht ...

Britannia
. It is a striking example of the organization of a military zone and illustrates the defensive techniques and geopolitical strategies of ancient Rome. The
Antonine Wall
Antonine Wall
, a 60 km-long fortification in Scotland, was started by Emperor
Antoninus Pius Antoninus Pius (; la, Antōnīnus Pius ; 19 September 86 – 7 March 161) was Roman emperor The Roman emperor was the ruler of the Roman Empire during the History of the Roman Empire, imperial period (starting in 27 BC). The emper ...
in AD 142 as a defense against the "Barbarians" of the north. It constitutes the northwesternmost portion of the Roman ''Limes''. The soldiers at a ''līmes'' were referred to as ''
līmitāneī
līmitāneī
''. Compared to the regular Roman military, they tended to be more likely to be of local descent (rather than Italians), be paid less, and be overall less prestigious. However, they were not expected to win large-scale wars, but rather to deter small-to-medium-sized raiders. Notable examples of Roman frontiers include: *
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provincia ...

Hadrian's Wall
– ''
Limes Britannicus The frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain is sometimes styled Limes Britannicus ("British Limes") by authors for the boundaries, including fortifications and defensive ramparts, that were built to protect Roman Britain (t ...
'' (
UNESCO The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) (french: Organisation des Nations unies pour l'éducation, la science et la culture) is a specialised agency United Nations Specialized Agencies are autonomous orga ...

UNESCO
World Heritage ''ID 430bis–001''
World Heritage ''ID 430bis–001''
) *
Antonine Wall
Antonine Wall
– in Scotland (UNESCO
World Heritage Site A World Heritage Site is a landmark or area with legal protection by an international convention administered by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO). World Heritage Sites are designated by UNESCO for h ...

World Heritage Site
) *
Saxon Shore The Saxon Shore ( la, litus Saxonicum) was a military command of the late Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Republican Repu ...
, late Roman limes in South-East England *''
Limes Germanicus The (Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republ ...
'', with the
Upper Germanic & Rhaetian Limes The (Latin for ''Germanic frontier'') is the name given in modern times to a line of frontier () fortifications that bounded the ancient Roman provinces of Germania Inferior, Germania Superior and Raetia, dividing the Roman Empire and the unsubdu ...
(UNESCO
World Heritage ''ID 430bis–002''
World Heritage ''ID 430bis–002''
) *''
Limes Arabicus The ''Limes Arabicus'' was a desert frontier of the Roman Empire The Roman Empire ( la, Imperium Rōmānum ; grc-gre, Βασιλεία τῶν Ῥωμαίων, Basileía tôn Rhōmaíōn) was the post-Roman Republic, Republican period of ...
'', the frontier of the Roman province of
Arabia Petraea Arabia Petraea or Petrea, also known as Rome's Arabian Province ( la, Provincia Arabia; ar, العربية البترائية; grc, ἐπαρχία Πετραίας Αραβίας) or simply Arabia, was a frontier Roman province, province of ...

Arabia Petraea
facing the desert *''
Limes Tripolitanus The ''Limes Tripolitanus'' was a frontier zone of defence of the Roman Empire, built in the south of what is now Tunisia and the northwest of Libya. It was primarily intended as a protection for the tripolitanian cities of Leptis Magna, Sabratha ...

Limes Tripolitanus
'', the frontier in modern Libya facing the Sahara *''
Limes Alutanus The ''Limes Alutanus'' was a fortified line consisting of a vallum Vallum is either the whole or a portion of the fortifications of a Roman camp. The vallum usually comprised an earthen or turf rampart rampART was a squatting, squatted social ...
'', the eastern border of the Roman province of
Dacia Dacia (, ; ) was the land inhabited by the Dacians The Dacians (; la, Daci ; grc-gre, Δάκοι, Δάοι, Δάκαι) were a Thracians, Thracian people who were the ancient inhabitants of the cultural region of Dacia, located in the ar ...

Dacia
*''
Limes Transalutanus ''Limes Transalutanus''Technological challenges on the Limes Transalutanus, Eugen S. Teodor, Dan Ştefan, https://www.antiquity.ac.uk/projgall/teodor342 is the modern name given to a fortified frontier system of the Roman Empire, built on the wester ...
'', the frontier in the lower Danube *''
Limes Moesiae The Moesian Limes or ''Limes Moesiae'' is the modern term given to a collection of Roman fortifications between the Black Sea shore and Pannonia, present-day Hungary, consisting primarily of forts along the Danube (so-called Danubian Limes) t ...
'', the frontier of the Roman province
Moesia Moesia (; Latin: ''Moesia''; el, Μοισία, Moisía) was an ancient region and later Roman province situated in the Balkans south of the Danube River. It included most of the territory of modern-day Central Serbia, Kosovo and the northern ...
, from
Singidunum Singidunum ( sr, Сингидунум/''Singidunum'') was an ancient city which later evolved into modern Belgrade Belgrade ( ; sr-cyr, Београд, Beograd, lit='White City', ; names in other languages) is the capital Capital most ...
Serbia along the Danube to Moldavia. *'' Limes Norici'', the frontier of the Roman province
Noricum Noricum () is the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of t ...
, from the River
Inn Inns are generally establishments or buildings where travelers can seek lodging Lodging refers to the use of a short-term dwelling In law, a dwelling (also known as a residence or an abode) is a self-contained unit of accommodation ...
along the Danube to Cannabiaca (
Zeiselmauer-Wolfpassing Zeiselmauer-Wolfpassing is a community located in the district of Tulln (district), Tulln in the Austrian federal state of Lower Austria. Geography Zeiselmauer-Wolfpassing is located in the Tulln Basin which is a basin surrounding the city of Tull ...
) in Austria. *''
Limes Pannonicus The Pannonian Limes ( lat, Limes Pannonicus, german: Pannonischer Limes) is that part of the old Roman fortified frontier known as the Danubian Limes that runs for approximately from the Roman camp of Klosterneuburg#History, Klosterneuburg in the ...
'', the frontier of the Roman province
Pannonia Pannonia (, ) was a province A province is almost always an administrative division Administrative division, administrative unitArticle 3(1). , country subdivision, administrative region, subnational entity, first-level subdivision, as ...

Pannonia
, along the Danube from
Klosterneuburg Klosterneuburg (; frequently abbreviated as Kloburg by locals) is a List of cities and towns in Austria, town in Tulln District in the Austrian state of Lower Austria. It has a population of about 27,500. The Klosterneuburg Monastery, which was es ...

Klosterneuburg
Austria to
Taurunum Zemun ( sr-cyrl, Земун, ; hu, Zimony) is a Subdivisions of Belgrade, municipality of the city of Belgrade. Zemun was a separate town that was absorbed into Belgrade in 1934. It lies on the right bank of the Danube river, upstream from downtow ...
in Serbia. *''
Fossatum Africae ''Fossatum Africae'' ("African ditch") is one or more linear defensive structures (sometimes called ''limes'') claimed to extend over or more in northern Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion o ...
'', the southern frontier of the Roman Empire, extending south of the
Roman province of Africa Africa Proconsularis was a Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provinciae'') were the administrative regions of Ancient Rome outside Roman Italy that were controlled by the Romans under the Roman Republic and ...
in
North-Africa North Africa or Northern Africa is a region encompassing the northern portion of the African continent. There is no singularly accepted scope for the region, and it is sometimes defined as stretching from the Atlantic shores of Mauritania in th ...

North-Africa
.


Etymology

The stem of ''limes'', ''limit''-, which can be seen in the genitive case, ''limitis'', marks it as the ancestor of an entire group of words in many languages related to Latin; for example, English ''
limit Limit or Limits may refer to: Arts and media * Limit (music), a way to characterize harmony * Limit (song), "Limit" (song), a 2016 single by Luna Sea * Limits (Paenda song), "Limits" (Paenda song), 2019 song that represented Austria in the Eurov ...
'' or French '' limite''. The
Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of the Roman Republic, it became ...
noun ''līmes'' (; Latin  ') had a number of different meanings: a path or balk delimiting
fields File:A NASA Delta IV Heavy rocket launches the Parker Solar Probe (29097299447).jpg, FIELDS heads into space in August 2018 as part of the ''Parker Solar Probe'' FIELDS is a science instrument on the ''Parker Solar Probe'' (PSP), designed to mea ...
; a boundary line or marker; any road or path; any channel, such as a stream channel; or any distinction or difference. The term was also commonly used after the 3rd century AD to denote a military district under the command of a ''dux limitis''. An etymology by
Julius Pokorny Julius Pokorny (12 June 1887 – 8 April 1970) was an Austrian-Czech linguist and scholar of the Celtic languages, particularly Irish, and a supporter of Irish nationalism. He held academic posts in Austrian and German universities. Early life a ...
in ''Indogermanisches Etymologisches Wörterbuch'' says that ''limes'' comes from
Indo-European The Indo-European languages are a language family A language family is a group of language A language is a structured system of communication Communication (from Latin ''communicare'', meaning "to share" or "to be in relation ...
br>''el-'', ''elei-'', ''lei-''
"to bow", "to bend", "elbow". According to Pokorny, Latin ''limen'', "threshold", is related to ''limes'', being the stone over which one enters or leaves the house. Some scholars have viewed the frontier as

The Merriam–Webster dictionaries take this view, as does J. B. Hofmann in ''Etymologisches Wörterbuch des Griechischen'' under ''leimon''. ''The White Latin Dictionary'' denies any connection, deriving ''limen'' from *''ligmen'', as in ''lien'' fro

"tie". In this sense, the threshold ties together the doorway. W. Gebert also wrote an article discussing the term. Some experts suggested that the Germanic ''limes'' may have been called ''Munimentum Traiani'' (Trajan's Bulwark) by contemporaries, referring to a passage by
Ammianus Marcellinus Ammianus Marcellinus (born , died 400) was a Roman soldier This is a list of Roman army units and bureaucrats. *''Accensus'' – Light infantry men in the armies of the early Roman Republic, made up of the poorest men of the army. *''Actuarius' ...
, according to which emperor Julian had reoccupied this fortification in 360 AD.


In Europe


Britain and Gaul

This section of ''limes'' existed from the 1st to the 5th century AD and ran through the provinces of: * ''Britannia Inferior'' * ''Britannia Superior'' The ''limes'' in Britain (''
Limes Britannicus The frontier of the Roman Empire in Britain is sometimes styled Limes Britannicus ("British Limes") by authors for the boundaries, including fortifications and defensive ramparts, that were built to protect Roman Britain (t ...
'') is on the territory of the present-day
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
in England, Scotland and Wales. From the 1st to the 2nd century, the
Gask Ridge The Gask Ridge is the modern name given to an early series of Castra, fortifications, built by the Roman Empire, Romans in Scotland, close to the Highland Boundary Fault, Highland Line. Modern excavation and interpretation has been pioneered by t ...

Gask Ridge
and the Stanegate, with their chains of Roman camps and watchtowers, marked the northern boundary of
Britannia Britannia () is the national personification upright=0.9, An early example of National personification in a gospel book dated 990: Germania.html"_;"title="Sclavinia,_Germania">Sclavinia,_Germania,_Sclavinia,_Germania,_Gallia">Germania.ht ...

Britannia
. Later the isthmuses in the north between the
Firth of Forth The Firth of Forth ( gd, Linne Foirthe) is the estuary (firth) of several Scotland, Scottish rivers including the River Forth. It meets the North Sea with Fife on the north coast and Lothian on the south. Name ''Firth'' is a cognate of ''fjord ...

Firth of Forth
and
Firth of Clyde The Firth of Clyde is the mouth of the River Clyde River Clyde ( gd, Abhainn Chluaidh, , sco, Clyde Watter, or ) is a river that flows into the Firth of Clyde The Firth of Clyde is the mouth of the River Clyde. It is located on the ...
were guarded by the defences of the
Antonine Wall
Antonine Wall
and the line between the mouth of the Tyne and
Solway Firth The Solway Firth ( gd, Tràchd Romhra) is a firth Firth is a word in the English English usually refers to: * English language English is a West Germanic languages, West Germanic language first spoken in History of Anglo-Saxon Eng ...
by
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provincia ...

Hadrian's Wall
. The perimeter defence of Hadrian's Wall was achieved through the construction of camps (''
castella is a kind of ''wagashi'' (a Japanese traditional confectionery) originally developed in Japan based on the "Nanban confectionery" (confectionery imported from abroad to Japan during the Azuchi–Momoyama period). The batter is poured into large ...

castella
'') on the lowlands, which were built along the most important roads in the north. Security and monitoring on the coasts in the west and southeast was achieved by camps and by chains of watchtowers or signal towers, both along the coastline and along main roads in the interior. The occupying forces, ''Exercitus Britannicus'', consisted mostly of cohort (Roman), cohorts of auxilia. The strategic reserve comprised three legion (Roman), legions based in Eburacum (York), Isca Silurum and Chester, Deva. The observation and surveillance of the waters around the British Isles was the responsibility of the ''Classis Britannica'', whose headquarters was in ''Rutupiae'' (Richborough). Legions auxilia cohorts and the fleet were commanded by the provincial governors. From the 3rd century, units of ''comitatenses, limitanei'' and ''liburnaria'' (marines) came under the command of two generals: * ''Comes Britanniarum'' * ''Dux Britanniarum''


Saxon Shore

This section of the ''limes'' existed from the 3rd to 5th centuries AD and covered the provinces of: * ''Britannia Inferior'' * ''Belgica'' * ''Lugdunensis'' * ''Aquitania'' This ''limes'' of the Late Antiquity ran through the territory of the present-day
United Kingdom The United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, commonly known as the United Kingdom (UK) or Britain,Usage is mixed. The Guardian' and Telegraph' use Britain as a synonym for the United Kingdom. Some prefer to use Britain as shorth ...

United Kingdom
and France. In the 3rd century, a separate military district, the ''Litus Saxonicum'', was established on the British side of the English Channel between the estuaries of the Wash and the Solent, to repel Saxon pirates and plunderers. The Gallic side of the English Channel and Atlantic coast were included therein. Monitoring and coastal surveillance were carried out by a chain of watchtowers or signal towers, camps and fortified ports (Gaul). Most of the Saxon Shore camps probably served as naval bases. The garrisons of the camps were composed of infantry and several cavalry regiments. Monitoring and surveillance of the Channel were the responsibility of the ''Classis Britannica'' and ''Classis Sambrica'', whose headquarters were in ''Locus Quartensis'' (Port d'Etaple), guarding the mouth of the River Somme. The units of ''comitatenses, limitanei'' and ''liburnaria'' in this area came under the command of three generals: * ''Count of the Saxon Shore, Comes litoris Saxonici per Britanniam'' (Count of the Saxon Shore) * ''Dux Belgicae secundae'' * ''Dux tractus Armoricani et Nervicani''


Lower Germania

This section of ''limes'' existed from the 1st to the 5th century AD and ran through the province of Lower Germania (''Germania Inferior''). It lies on the territory of today's Netherlands and Germany. This ''limes'' was a river border (''limes ripa'') on the Rhine, defended by a chain of Roman camp, camps, that ran from the North Sea (Katwijk-Brittenburg camp) to Vinxtbach (opposite Rheinbrohl fort on the Upper Germanic Limes), forming the border between the Roman provinces of ''Germania Inferior'' and ''Germania Superior''. By contrast with the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes, it was not marked by a solid palisade or wall. Neither can any defensive ditch or rampart (fortification), rampart be identified. The guards were stationed in nearby ''castra'' and watchtowers usually built immediately on the Rhine. The ''limes'' was served by a well-developed military road. Each camp had its own river port or landing stage and a storage area, because the Rhine not only formed the border but was also the most important transport and trade route in the region. In the first section, between the camps of ''Rigomagus'' (Remagen) and ''Castra Bonnensia, Bonna'' (Bonn), there were only a few camps. In the second, middle, section between ''Bonna'' and ''Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum'' (Nijmegen), there were considerably more. Here there were also larger legion camps; with one exception, all were cavalry barracks. The landscape of the third section between ''Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum'' and ''Mare Germanicum'' (the North Sea) was characterised by numerous small streams and boggy marshland. Consequently, in this area there was only one cavalry camp. Border security here consisted mainly of tightly packed, relatively small cohort forts. The occupying troops, ''Exercitus Germaniae Inferioris'', consisted mostly of auxilia cohorts. From the 2nd century, the strategic reserve comprised three legions stationed in ''Castra Bonnensia, Bonna/''Bonn, ''Novaesium/''Neuss, ''Vetera/''Xanten and ''Ulpia Noviomagus Batavorum, Noviomagus/''Nijmegen. The control and surveillance of the waters of the North Sea, the Rhine estuary and the Lower Rhine was the responsibility of the ''Classis Germanica'' whose headquarters was in ''Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium''/Cologne. Legions, auxilia and fleet units were commanded by the respective provincial governor. From the 3rd century the ''Limitanei, ripenses'' (river guards), ''comitatenses'', and ''liburnaria'' were under the command of the ''Dux Belgicae secundae''.


Upper Germania and Rhaetia

This ''limes'' existed from the 1st to 5th centuries AD and guarded the provinces of: * ''Germania Superior'' * ''Rhaetia'' It lay on the territory of the present German states of Rhineland-Palatinate, Hesse, Baden-Württemberg and Bavaria. To the north, it bordered those parts of the Roman province of ''Rhaetia'' that lay north of the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
and guarded the eastern border of that part of ''Germania Superior'' that lay east of the Rhine. In Upper Germania the border defences initially consisted only of a post road. From about 162/63 AD, the Romans constructed a defensive barrier with watchtowers and signal towers, palisades, ditches and earthworks. On one short section of the Rhaetian Limes, a solid stone wall was erected. In its final stages, the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes was about 550 kilometres long and ran from Rheinbrohl, in the county of Neuwied (district), Neuwied in northern Rhineland-Palatinate, as far as Hienheim on the Danube. Between the villages of Osterburken and Welzheim, the ''limes'' ran for 81 kilometres almost in a straight line southwards.M.J.T. Lewis: ''Surveying Instruments of Greece and Rome'', Cambridge University Press, 2001, , pp. 242 245. In the scholarly literature, this unusual section is considered as evidence that this type of boundary wall had never been used for defensive purposes. The land of ''Agri Decumates'' that was guarded by this ''limes'' had to be vacated by the Romans in 260-285 AD. They moved their bases back to the banks of the Rhine and Danube, which were much easier to defend militarily. The exact route of the ''limes'' along the border between Upper Germania and Raetia has not been fully explored. In the late 4th and early 5th centuries, the Rhaetian Limes was reorganized and divided into three sections. The northern border of ''Rhaetia'' formed the ''pars superior'' (upper part), the western border was the ''pars media'' (central part) with the fortified town of Kempten, Cambodunum and bases from ''Vemania'' (Isny im Allgäu) to ''Cassilacum'' (Memmingen); the ''pars inferior'' (lower part) was the section between ''Castra Regina'' (Regensburg) and ''Batavis'' (Passau). The defending troops, ''Exercitus Germaniae superioris'' and ''Exercitus Raeticus'', consisted mostly of auxilia cohorts. From the 2nd century, the strategic reserve was formed from three legions stationed in ''Mogontiacum/''Mainz, ''Argentorate/''Strasbourg and ''Castra Regina''/Regensburg. The monitoring of the Upper Rhine was the responsibility of the ''Classis Germanica''; that of the Rhaetic Danube came under the ''Classis Pannonia'', whose headquarters was in ''Aquincum''/Budapest. Legions and auxilia cohorts were under the command of the governor. From the 3rd century the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian border troops (''comitatenses, limitanei, repenses'', and ''liburnaria''), were commanded by three generals: * ''Dux Raetiae'' * ''Dux Mogontiacensis'' * ''Comes tractus Argentoratensis''


Danube-Iller-Rhine Limes (DIRL)

This ''limes'' existed from the 3rd to the 5th centuries AD and guarded the provinces of: * ''Germania Superior'' * ''Rhaetia'' It lies on the territory of present-day Germany, Austria, Switzerland and Liechtenstein. As early as the period 15 BC to about 70 AD, the border between Rome and Germania ran mostly along the line of the late antique Danube-Iller-Rhine Limes (DIRL) before the Romans advanced further north into the ''Agri decumates''. Because of troop withdrawals and massive barbarian invasions, the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes were abandoned in the late 3rd century and the Roman forces pulled the border back to the banks of the three rivers. Especially around the year 300, the Emperor Diocletian had new fortifications built directly on the river banks or on major roads in the hinterland here. Around 370 AD, the line of fortifications was considerably strengthened under the Emperor Valentinian I to counter the Alemanni, who were steadily advancing southwards. By contrast with the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes, the DIRL primarily fulfilled defensive purposes; its camps had much stronger and higher walls than their High Imperial predecessors. Furthermore, they had in most cases been built to conform to the local topography. This meant that they could not be built in the classical 'pack of cards' shape. Between them a dense chain of watchtowers and signal towers was constructed to provide an additional security measure (''burgus, burgi''). Flotillas of patrol boats were stationed on the large lakes in this region. * Lake Constance: ''Numerus Barcariorum'' (HQ at ''Brigantium''/Bregenz) * Lake Neuchâtel: ''Classis Barcariorum'' (HQ at ''Eburodunum''/Yverdon). ''Comitatenses'', ''ripenses'', and ''liburnaria'' in this section of the limes were under the command of four generals: * ''Dux Raetiae'' * ''Dux provinciae Sequanicae'' * ''Comes tractus Argentoratensis'' * ''Dux Germaniae primae''


Noricum

This section of the ''limes'' existed from the 1st to the 5th century AD and guarded part of the Roman province of ''
Noricum Noricum () is the Latin Latin (, or , ) is a classical language belonging to the Italic languages, Italic branch of the Indo-European languages. Latin was originally spoken in the area around Rome, known as Latium. Through the power of t ...
''. It is on the soil of the present-day Austrian states of Upper Austria, Upper and Lower Austria. It ran along the
Danube The Danube ( ; ) is the List of rivers of Europe#Longest rivers, second-longest river in Europe, after the Volga in Russia. It flows through much of Central Europe, Central and Southeastern Europe, from the Black Forest into the Black Sea. It ...

Danube
from Passau/''Boiodurum'' to Zeiselmauer/''Cannabiaca''. This is also a ''ripa'' (river border), which was guarded by a loose chain of cohort forts. The main road on the Norican Limes was the South Danube Road, ''via iuxta amnem Danuvium''. The initially simple wood and earth structures were systematically converted under Emperor Hadrian (emperor), Hadrian into stone encampments. During the 4th century, they were brought once more up to date and massively reinforced. Between the camps, in strategic places or good points of observation, were watchtowers or signal towers and, in the Late Antiquity, burgus, ''burgi''. In the middle section, between the camps of ''Castra Favianis, Favianis'' and ''Castra Melk, Melk'', watchtowers were built only sporadically. Here the narrow valley of the Wachau, with its densely forested escarpments, made access to the riverbank more difficult, providing some defensive function. Every camp had its own river port or landing stage and a storage area because the Danube was not only border zone, but also the most important transport and trade route in the region. Over time civilian settlements or ''vicus, vici'' were established immediately next to the camps. In the immediate hinterland of the ''limes'', walled towns or ''municipium, municipia'' were founded - for example, ''Aelium Cetium'' or ''Ovilava'' (Wels). They were the administrative or commercial centres of the region. In late antiquity, the Norican area was divided into two parts (''pars inferior'' and ''pars superior'').ND occ.: XXXIV It is probable that a second, defensive line was created to the rear (''Castrum Locus Felicis''). The occupying troops, ''Exercitus Noricus'', consisted mostly of auxilia cohorts and a legion stationed in ''Lauriacum/''Enns acted as the strategic reserve. The surveillance and security of the Danube and its tributaries were the responsibility of the ''Classis Pannonia''. Units of the legions, naval and auxiliary forces were commanded by the respective governors. In late antiquity - according to ''Notitia Dignitatum'' - four newly established flotillas undertook this task. From the 3rd century, the Norian ''comitatenses'', ''ripenses'' and ''liburnari'' were under the command of two generals: * ''Comes Illyrici'' * ''Dux Pannoniae Primae et Norici Ripensis''


Pannonia

This stretch of ''limes'' was in use from the 1st to the 5th centuries AD and helped to guard the provinces of: * ''Pannonia inferior'' * ''Pannonia'' The Pannonian Limes is situated on the territory of present-day Austria, Slovakia and Hungary. Although this section of the frontier was relatively well protected by the Danube river border or ''Ripa'', the Roman military presence here was always exceptionally strong (three military camps in Pannonia, but only one in Lower Pannonia) because especially after the abandonment of ''Roman Dacia'' in the late 3rd century, the pressure of migrant peoples from the east on this section of the ''limes'' intensified. The tributaries emptying into the Danube offered cheap transport routes, but also made good approach routes for invaders and raiders. The military camps were therefore built by the most important fords or confluences and road termini. The legion- and auxilia camps were mainly located in the immediate vicinity of the riverbank. The initial wood and earth structures, were systematically converted under Emperor Hadrian (emperor), Hadrian into stone barracks and, in the 4th century, redesigned and massively strengthened in order to match new strategic requirements. The gaps between the camps were closed by a chain of watchtowers or signal towers. In late Roman times huge Limes Pannonicus, inland camps were built and towns in the hinterland were fortified to create a second line of defence. In addition, at vulnerable points, units of the Danube fleet were stationed. In the time of Emperor Marcus Aurelius the first mention is made in Pannonia of stone watchtowers (''burgus, burgi'', panelled towers and fortlets (''praesidia''). In late antiquity, the Pannonian military district was divided into two parts (''pars inferior'' and ''pars superior''). Advance defences were provided by bridgehead camps (e.g. ''Castra Contra Aquincum'' or ''Celemantia'') and military stations on main transport routes in the ''Barbaricum'' (e.g. near Musov).


Lower Danube


In Africa

At the greatest extent of the Roman Empire, the southern border lay along the deserts of Arabia in the Middle East (see Romans in Arabia) and the Sahara in North Africa, which represented a natural barrier against expansion. The Empire controlled the Mediterranean shores and the mountain ranges further inland. The Romans attempted twice to occupy the Siwa Oasis and finally used Siwa as a place of banishment. However Romans controlled the Nile many miles into Africa up to the modern border between Egypt and Sudan. In Africa Romans controlled the area north of the Sahara, from the Atlantic Ocean to Egypt, with many sections of limes (
Limes Tripolitanus The ''Limes Tripolitanus'' was a frontier zone of defence of the Roman Empire, built in the south of what is now Tunisia and the northwest of Libya. It was primarily intended as a protection for the tripolitanian cities of Leptis Magna, Sabratha ...

Limes Tripolitanus
, Limes Numidiae, etc.). The ''Fossatum Africae'' ("African ditch") of at least 750 km controlled the southern borders of the Empire and had many similarities of construction to
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provincia ...

Hadrian's Wall
. There are similar, but shorter, ''fossatae'' in other parts of North Africa. Between the Matmata and Tabaga ranges in modern Tunisia there is a ''fossatum'' which was duplicated during World War II. There also appears to be a 20-km. ''fossatum'' at Bou Regreg in Morocco although this would not have been within the scope of the proclamation of the ''Codex Theodosianus'' because at that time the province was not in Africa, administratively speaking. In the south of Mauritania Tingitana the frontier in the third century lay just north of Casablanca near Sala and stretched to Volubilis. Septimius Severus expanded the "Limes Tripolitanus" dramatically, even briefly holding a military presence in the Garamantian capital Garama in 203 AD. Much of the initial campaigning success was achieved by Quintus Anicius Faustus, the legate of Legio III Augusta. Following his African conquests, the Roman Empire may have reached its greatest extent during the reign of Septimius Severus,David L. Kennedy, Derrick Riley (2012)
''Rome's Desert Frontiers'', page 13
Routledge
R.J. van der Spek, Lukas De Blois (2008)
''An Introduction to the Ancient World'', page 272
Routledge
under whom the empire encompassed an area of 2 million square miles ( million square kilometers).


Fossatum Africae

''Fossatum Africae'' ("African ditch") is a linear defensive structure (''limes'') that extended over 750 km or more in North Africa, northern Africa constructed during the Roman Empire to defend and control the southern borders of the Empire in the Africa (Roman province), Roman province of Africa. It is considered to have many similarities of construction to
Hadrian's Wall Hadrian's Wall ( la, Vallum Aelium), also known as the Roman Wall, Picts' Wall, or ''Vallum Hadriani'' in Latin, is a former defensive fortification of the Roman province The Roman provinces (Latin: ''provincia'', pl. ''provincia ...

Hadrian's Wall
at the northern border of the Empire in Britain. Generally the Fossatum consists of a ditch and earth embankments on either side using the material from the ditch. Sometimes the embankments are supplemented by dry stone walls on one or both sides; rarely, there are stone walls without a ditch. The width of the Fossatum is generally 3–6 m but in exceptional cases may be as much as 20 m. Wherever possible, it or its highest wall is constructed on the counterscarp. Excavations near Gemellae showed the depth there to be 2–3 m, with a width of 1 m at the bottom widening to 2–3 m at the top. The Fossatum is accompanied by many small watchtowers and numerous forts, often built within sight of one another.


In Asia

The Limes Arabicus was the frontier of the Roman province of
Arabia Petraea Arabia Petraea or Petrea, also known as Rome's Arabian Province ( la, Provincia Arabia; ar, العربية البترائية; grc, ἐπαρχία Πετραίας Αραβίας) or simply Arabia, was a frontier Roman province, province of ...

Arabia Petraea
, facing the desert. It runs from the Gulf of Aqaba to northern Syria, for about 1,500 kilometers (930 mi) at its greatest extent


Post-Roman ''limites''

The ''Limes Saxoniae'' in Holstein was established in 810 AD, long after the fall of the Western Roman Empire. Charlemagne considered his empire (later called the Carolingian Empire) as the true successor to the Roman Empire and called himself "Emperor of the Romans". Official edicts were issued in Latin, which affected the naming of the Empire's frontier as well.


In fiction

*The novel series ''Romanike'' is set at the ''Limes Germanicus'' in the decades until the first assault of Germanic peoples in 161 AD. *''Roman Wall: A Novel'', by Winifred Bryher is set in 265 during the Limesfall. • The Antonine Romans Novellas by Andrew Boyce is set in AD144, with The Antonine Wall location, Caledonia, modern day Scotland.


Gallery

File:Ostkastell Welzheim.jpg, Reconstructed east gate of the fort at Welzheim, Germany File:Holzwachturm am rätischen Limes (Rekonstruktion) - Wp12 77.jpg, Reconstructed wooden tower nearby Rainau, Germany


See also

*Roman military frontiers and fortifications *Great Wall, structures of similar scale and function, built by various dynasties in China *Sasanian defense lines, the borders of the Neo-Persian Empire *Limitanei, soldiers on the late Roman and early Byzantine ''limites'' *March (territorial entity), medieval European borderlands *The Pale, the English-controlled strip of Ireland


References


External links


Frontiers of the Roman Empire: UNESCO Official Website

Official website of the ''Verein Deutsche Limes-Straße'' (in German)


(in German), German antiquarian site with maps
Vici.org
Interactive map with the ''limes'' and other Roman castles and sites



(German)
Derlimes.at Official website of the Limes group in Austria) (in German, Serbian, Bosnian, Croatian, Montenegrin)

Limes, Italian Review of Geopolitics
(Italian)

{{Coord, 54.9926, N, 2.6010, W, source:wikidata, display=title Roman frontiers Roman fortifications