In what was once the northern reaches of the Roman Empire, researching Roman buildings is often very difficult due to a lack of source material. Buildings have almost completely disappeared; there are practically no written sources or images.
It is then essential to investigate the underlying ideas and the traditions regarding construction materials and building techniques, in this way broadening the research.
Kees Peterse developed a methodology for this at an early stage, one he defined in his doctoral dissertation Bouwkundige studies van huizen in Pompeii. Muurwerk, maatvoering en ontwerp (1993). This methodology can be summed up by the sub-title, which translates as ‘masonry, measurements and design’. Over the years he refined this methodology
A step-by-step plan can be distilled from the many research reports, which he also explained verbally shortly before his death. The step-by-step plan is based on ‘ideal research conditions’, though the in situ conditions present more challenges. This is illustrated in the two sample projects: the reconstruction of the earth and timber rampart (Holz-Erde-Mauer) together with the west gate of the Haltern Roman fortress (D) and the building archaeological research into the thermal baths in Heerlen. These examples also clearly show the difference in source material with regard to timber structures and masonry structures. With timber structures, material remains are often very scarce, unlike in masonry structures. At the Roman bathhouse in Heerlen, not only foundations but even remains of upstanding masonry with interior and exterior finishes have been preserved
Kees Peterse’s steps in research align perfectly with the methodology used for the building archaeological research as set out in 'richtlijnen bouwhistorisch onderzoek’, 2009 the Dutch guidelines for building archaeological research published by the Dutch National Cultural Heritage Agency in 2009.
© Roman Reconstructions 2022