FRANKFURT, Germany, Sept. 17 (UPI) -- Archaeologists in Germany have uncovered evidence that an ancient fort became a Roman village, as soldiers left and civilians stayed behind.
Until recently, the Roman Gernsheim was a mostly ignored fort. But last year, researchers at Goethe University of Frankfurt began more extensive digging at the site. What they found -- hearths, ceramics, wells and cellars -- suggests the site was more than just a military outpost.
"We've also found real treasures such as rare garment clasps, several pearls, parts of a board game (dice, playing pieces) and a hairpin made from bone and crowned with a female bust," dig leader Thomas Maurer, an archaeologist at Goethe, said in a press release.
Maurer and his colleagues say the village was likely occupied by relatives of soldiers stationed there, as well as tradesmen who profited from military spending. The village resembles other similar sites in Germany, like Dieburg and Ladenburg.
Their findings suggest the site was occupied from the 1st through the 3rd century CE. Though there were likely downturns as soldiers came and went, significant stone buildings suggest the village was permanent by the 2nd century.
Researchers say the village was likely populated by people of Gallic-Germanic origins, with only a few Roman citizens from faraway provinces. Among the more unique artifacts was a coin from Anatolia, likely a souvenir carried by a soldier after a trip abroad.
Excavations are ongoing, with students from Goethe assisting the digs.