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Ganuenta (Colijnsplaat)

Satelite image of the Dutch province Zeeland with the two sites where Nehalennia shrines were discovered.
Germania inferior: small province of the Roman empire, situated along the Lower Rhine. This webpage is part of a series of short descriptions of villages in Germania inferior. An overview can be found here.

Ganuenta is only known from an inscription on one of the votive altars dedicated to the ancient goddess Nehalennia, which were discovered in 1970-1974 in the Eastern Scheldt estuary, about 1 kilometers northwest of Colijnsplaat. It has been argued that Ganuenta was the capital of the Frisiavones, but it is likely that it was in fact in Menapian territories, and that Frisiavones lived, in fact, a bit more to the north.

As the waters of the Scheldt and the sea have swallowed up this area, hardly anything is known about this place, which may once have been an important international port.

Edge of Empire. The book Arjen Bosman and I wrote about Rome's Lower Rhine Frontier.
Edge of Empire. The book Arjen Bosman and I wrote about Rome's Lower Rhine Frontier (order; review)
The Eastern Scheldt today. Photo Jona Lendering. Modern reconstruction of a Nehalennia shrine. Archeon, Alphen aan den Rijn (Netherlands). Photo Jona Lendering. Altar of Nehalennia. Rijksmuseum van oudheden, Leiden (Holland). Photo Jona Lendering. Altar of Nehalennia. Rijksmuseum van oudheden, Leiden (Holland). Photo Jona Lendering.
The Eastern Scheldt today. Reconstruction of a votive altar. They were all painted. (Archeon) Votive altar of Nehallenia (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden) Votive altar of Nehallenia (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden)
Modern reconstruction of the temple of Nehalennia, in modern Colijnsplaat. Photo Jona Lendering.
Modern reconstruction of the temple of Nehalennia, in modern Colijnsplaat. There is, actually, no evidence whatsoever for the shape of the sanctuary, but most temples in the Low Countries looked like this.

No votive altar can be dated after 227, and archaeologists have discovered almost nothing from Late Antiquity in this part of the Netherlands. This suggests that the site and the area were abandoned at some moment in the mid-third century. There is indeed evidence for changes in the ecological system, although ideas about large transgressions ("Duinkerke 2") have now been abandoned.

In itself, the ecological changes would not have been disastrous, but the inhabitants of the coastal region of Germania Inferior had been extracting salty peat from the mud flats, which was used to produce salt. The natural defense against the water had disappeared, and the sea could now easily destroy the coast.

A satellite photo of the site can be found here.





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