A large ancient wall, clearly Roman, was first unearthed in the German city of Cologne in 2017. It is not that surprising to find Roman buildings there. Cologne is one of Germany’s oldest cities, founded by the Romans in 50 AD under the name Colonia, or “colony.” What made the find interesting was its size, and the strange small niches built into the wall.
After comparisons with Roman ruins elsewhere, archaeologists think they have figured out the mystery. The building was a Roman library. The niches were to hold scrolls. Rather a lot of scrolls; it is estimated the library could have held up to 20,000 scrolls.
The building would have been slightly smaller than the famed library at Ephesus, which was built in 117 CE. Cologne’s library was also likely built later, in the mid-100s CE. Located in the middle of the city, near the forum, Cologne’s library was intended for public use. And it was popular enough that eventually an extension was added!