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Forum Hadriani (Voorburg)


Arentsburg Park, Voorburg (Holland). Photo Jona Lendering. Forum Hadriani: small town in the Roman province of Germania Inferior, modern Voorburg near The Hague in Holland.

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Park Arentsburg in modern Voorburg, the site of ancient Forum Hadriani, the main settlement of the Cananefates, named after the emperor Hadrian

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Tile stamp of EXGERINF from Forum Hadriani; Museum Swaensteyn, Voorburg (Holland). Photo Jona Lendering.

However, the site has been investigated in the nineteenth and early twentieth century; initially, it was believed that it was a military settlement. This seemed confirmed by rooftile stamps like this one, with the sign EXGERINF, Exercitus Germaniae Inferioris, the army of Germania Inferior, the Roman province along the Lower Rhine. This army consisted of the First legion Minervia (from Bonna) and the Thirtieth Ulpia Victrix (from Xanten). This rooftile can be seen in Voorburg's charming little Museum Swaensteyn, just like the next three objects.

Sherd, signed "Ianuarius". Museum Swaensteyn, Voorburg (Holland). Photo Jona Lendering.
Hand of a bronzen statue. Museum Swaensteyn, Voorburg (Holland). Photo Jona Lendering.
Precious ceramics. Museum Swaensteyn, Voorburg (Holland). Photo Jona Lendering.
Roof tile with the sign of the Classis Germanica Pia Fidelis. Museum für antike Schifffahrt, Mainz (Germany). Photo Marco Prins.
EXGERINF on a roof tile. Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden (Netherlands). Photo Jona Lendering.
1. Sherd, signed "Ianuarius" 2. Hand of a bronze statue 3. Precious ceramics 4. Roof tile sign 5. Roof tile
Ancient milestone from Den Haag. Photo Jona Lendering.
Milestone (Museon, Den Haag; full text)
Rooftile #4 has the sign of the Classis Germanica Pia Fidelis, "the loyal and steadfast fleet of the German provinces" (Museum für antike Schifffahrt, Mainz). This find -and several others- added to the confusion, because it was argued that Voorburg was once a naval station like Köln-Alteburg. Rooftile #5, from the Rijksmuseum van Oudheden in Leiden, is another EXGERINF-tile.

However, it was a civil settlement. This was proven when substantial parts were excavated near the Arentsburg park, and by milestones like this one (from Den Haag - Wateringse Veld), which showed distances and names. On the lowest line, you can read A MAC MP IIII, which means that the distance "A Municipio Aelio Cananefatio" is four miles, or six kilometer. Municipium Cananefatorum is an earlier name of the same city.

Inscription from Forum Hadriani. Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden (Netherlands). Photo Jona Lendering.
Inscription (Rijksmuseum van Oudheden, Leiden)

A large piece of imported natural stone was used to make this inscription.

IN  Honorem  Domvs  Divinae
GENIO  COLLE-
GI  PEREGRinorvm
VLPivs  DECEM-
BER  ET  VERE-
CVNDvs  COR-
NVTVS  Dono  Dedervnt (more...)
To honor the divine dynasty,
to the protective spirit of the college
of foreign residents,
Ulpius Decem-
ber and Vere-
cundus Cor-
nutus gave this [altar] as a present.

Modern statue of Corbulo, Voorburg (Holland). Photo Jona Lendering.
Modern statue of Corbulo

There is not much in modern Voorburg to remind the visitor that it is one of the oldest cities in the Nederlands. It is not possible to excavate the remains because they are on the UNESCO list of world heritage. However, there is this modern statue of Domitius Corbulo, the Roman governor of Germania Inferior, who, in the late forties of the first century, ordered a canal to be dug between the capital of the Cananefates and Matilo (modern Leiden).

More information:

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)

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© Jona Lendering for
Livius.Org, 2003
Revision: 20 April 2012
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