A town gate that was probably built with a grant from Roman Emperor Nero has been discovered in Cologne, Germany during work on a new underground train line, archaeologists said.
"This is finest Roman handiwork," said Hansgerd Hellenkemper, director of the Roman museum in the city.
The gate, found complete with 11 meters of wall, was a goods-delivery entrance to the Roman town from its river port outside on the Rhine. The sturdy Roman wall protected Cologne for 1,000 years.
The city fathers have appropriated 3 million euros to preserve the site with a train line underneath and a road deck overhead.
"I'm delighted it's going to stay in the ground where it has always been," said Hellenkemper.
Recently diggers also found the bottom of a Roman wooden barge in Cologne.
The assumed Nero connection is based on the fact that the wall was built in the second half of the 1st century AD and that the city itself could not have afforded the cost. Nero's mother had been born in Cologne, so the emperor is thought to have fortified the town.
In the late Roman period, the inhabitants walled up the gate for fear of attack by the warlike Frankish tribe, using any rocks at hand including tombstones. Hellenkemper said the closure would not be undone and the gate would be left as is.
Birgitta Hoffmann sent along some German coverage for Explorator (thanks!) which includes a very nice video news report from WDR ...