Neckar-Odenwald Limes

Map with route of the Odenwald Limes (red line, left) with locations of towers, camps, settlements or well known remains of a villa rustica as well as descriptions of military divisions; right: the line of the so-called Anterior Limes, which replaced the Neckar-Odenwald Limes around 160/165 AD.

The Neckar-Odenwald Limes (German: Neckar-Odenwald-Limes) is a collective term for two, very different early sections of the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes, a Roman defensive frontier line that may have been utilised during slightly different periods in history. The Neckar-Odenwald Limes consists of the northern Odenwald Limes (Odenwaldlimes), a cross-country limes with camps, watchtowers and palisades, which linked the River Main (Latin: Moenus) with the Neckar (Latin: Nicer), and the adjoining southern Neckar Limes (Neckarlimes), which in earlier research was seen as a typical 'riverine limes' (German: Nasser Limes; Latin: limes ripa), whereby the river replaced the function of the palisade as an approach obstacle. More recent research has thrown a different light on this way of viewing things that means may have to be relativized in future.[1] The resulting research is ongoing.


The Odenwald Limes begins in the north on the River Main, either near Obernburg or near Wörth, and runs southwards from there, skilfully using the topographical features of the Odenwald highlands, to the River Neckar, which it probably reached in the area of the present-day county of Heilbronn. The Neckar line forms its extension in a southerly direction as far as Arae Flaviae in the terrain of the present town of Rottweil, where it oriented itself to the course of the river.


The Neckar-Odenwald Limes probably emerged in the area of the Odenwald Limes during the Trajan period[2] and, in the area of the Neckar line, in the Domitian or Early Trajan period, and, in the area of the old Neckar camps, in the Vespasian period. It went through several rebuilding phases and did not become obsolete until the construction of the almost perfectly straight Anterior Limes (Vorderer Limes) in the years between 159/161 and 165.[3]

See also


  1. Stephan Bender: Unser Bild vom Neckarlimes: bald nur noch Geschichte? (pdf; 6.0 MB). In: Archäologie in Deutschland. 3/2011, Theiss, Stuttgart, 2011, ISSN 0176-8522, pp. 38f.
  2. The conventional start date in the year 100 AD (+/-5) is supported by the results of the excavations that Dietwulf Baatz undertook in the period 1964 to 1966 at Roman camp, Hesselbach. They are based primarily on the evaluation of the sigillates found there (c.f. the corresponding section in the Hesselbach article and Dietwulf Baatz's Kastell Hesselbach und andere Forschungen am Odenwaldlimes. Gebr. Mann, Berlin, 1973, ISBN 3-7861-1059-X (Limesforschungen, Vol. 12), pp. 85–96). In more recent literature a start date for Hesselbach camp and the whole Odenwald Limes is given as 107/110, or even as late as 115. These dates are not supported by new excavation finds, but on a statistical re-evaluation of the coins found from all Roman camps on the Upper Germanic-Rhaetian Limes, which archaeologist, Klaus Kortüm, first presented in 1998 and which are supported by several authors of more recent literature. (c.f. Klaus Kortüm: Zur Datierung der römischen Militäranlagen im obergermanisch-raetischen Limesgebiet. In: Saalburg-Jahrbuch 49, 1998, Zabern, Mainz, pp. 5–65, and Egon Schallmayer: Der Limes. Geschichte einer Grenze. Beck, Munich, 2006, ISBN 3-406-48018-7, pp. 49–52 and pp. 54 f.)
  3. The more recent research posits that the construction of the forward limes did not happen overnight, but took place over a period of up to five or six years.



Limes sections, individual camps, specialist literature

Historical excavations

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