Caesar in Germania
Our good friend Jona Lendering has posted breaking news (in Dutch) over on his blog, which I translate c.q. paraphrase below. Siggi Karcher, over at the Roman Army Talk forum, was the first to break this news, but Jona has written a coherent treatment on the subject.
As everyone knows, Julius Caesar conquered Gaul. Archaeological evidence for this is abundant, as demonstrated by excavations at Alesia and Gergovia. However, Caesar is also said to have gone to Britain, Belgium and Germany, and for those places the archaeological evidence simply has not surfaced so far. As Jona points out, a Roman expedition by Julius Caesar in these territories must have left behind hundreds of temporary camps used by the eight legions that spent more than a decade in the countries north of the Alps.
Last year, Thuin (Belgium) was identified as the place where Caesar defeated the Aduatuci. Then came Hermeskeil: a camp close to Trier, that possibly saw service during the late of the fifties BC. And now, two more military camps have been unearthed in Hessen, both of which date to the middle of the first century BC, are Roman and are located on the right bank of the River Rhine. Caesar was here after he had several bridges built across the Rhine between 55 and 53 BC. The expeditions were not great successes, but they added to his military reputation.
Jona has posted several links to these last finds. They are all in German. The article over at the N24 website provides some basic information on the discovery. A local news website for Hessen goes into some further detail and has pictures of the area in question. The website of the town of Hessen has an article with a picture of part of the excavations. The Rhein-Zeitung reiterates much of what has already been said, but features a picture that shoes a nail from a Roman sandal or boot. The Höcher Kreisblatt has more pictures of Roman nails; the text doesn’t present anything new, though. The brief note on Die Welt seems perfunctory.
As Jona notes, the recent discoveries confirm in an archaeological sense the truth of what Caesar was saying. Of course, this is true as long as the archaeologists haven’t made a mistake. However, the latter seems very unlikely, since the evidence is fairly straightforward: Roman pottery of the mid-first century BC and a presence on the eastern banks of the River Rhine.