(Bayerisches Landesamt für Denkmalpflege, München, Germany)
In 2005 the partly reconstruction of a 12 m high granary in the Limesmuseum Aalen initiated a new discussion on the original height of Roman buildings. Existing 1:1-reconstructions, mostly from the 1980s in Germany, can be generally considered as too low, like the reconstructed fort gates at Weißenburg or Pfünz (Germany). Traditional elements for reconstructions, especially the width of the walls, seem not to be indicative: The excavated walls of the excavated granary in a villa rustica at Oberndorf, which was copied by the Aalen reconstruction, possess only a width of circa 0,90 m, whereas the Aurelian City Wall at Rome has a width of approximately 3,0 m, although the wall itself is much lower than the walls of the Oberndorf granary.
As new reconstructions on Roman remains along the transnational WHS “Frontiers of the Roman Empire” according to the UNESCO-management plan can be excluded, virtual reconstructions become more and more important in explaining Roman architecture to a general public. A small group of Roman architectural fibulae, in connection with the well-known Pannonian bronze and clay models of Roman fort gates, indicate a minimum height of at least ten metres for Roman auxiliary fort gates. Legionary fort gates, like the around 19 metres high towers of the porta praetoria at Regensburg, can even reach higher dimensions. However, the picture of Roman military architecture in the awareness of the general public is still clearly influenced by the wrongly reconstructed fort gates like Pfünz or Weißenburg. It is therefore an important task for museums to change this wrong picture in the visitors’ heads and to transmit the idea of height in Roman architecture.
Following the Airborne Laserscan of the whole German Limes, questions of visibility analysis and the minimum necessary height of Watch Towers now can be approached.
Keywords: World Heritage Site “Frontiers of the Roman Empire”; German Limes; Virtual Reconstructions; Height of Buildings