Major Discovery: Archaeologists Find Roman-Era Battlefield in Germany
Arrowheads, axes and coins: Archaeologists have located a battlefield dating back to the 3rd century AD in a forest in northern Germany. An entire Roman legion equipped with battle catapults of the kind portrayed in the film "Gladiator" is believed to have fought a Germanic tribe here.
German archaeologists have located a Roman-era battlefield and retrieved more than 600 artifacts, most of them weapons, in what they are calling "the find of a century".
The weapons located in an area measuring 1.5 by 0.5 kilometers near the town of Northeim in northern Germany, about 50 kilometers south of Hanover, include spearheads with DNA traces on them and arrows made from wood that originated in northern Africa.
Evidently the Romans and Germans fought a bloody battle in the third century AD, said archaeologist Petra Lönne. Some 1,000 Roman legionnaires may have been involved in the fight.
Intriguingly, the find includes more than 300 iron projectiles that were fired by powerful Roman torsion weapons known as scorpions (scorpio), which could catapult heavy darts with a high velocity and deadly accuracy. It had a range of 300 and was portrayed in the opening battle scene of the Hollywood movie "Gladiator."
"The bolts were found densely clustered," said archaeologist Henning Hassmann.
Historians say the discovery of the battlefield is so significant because it appears to refute the assumption that the Romans withdrew from Germania after their defeat by an alliance of Germanic tribs at the battle of the Teutoburg forest in 9 AD.
Many of the weapons found are in good condition and they prove that Roman armies were still engaging in major military operations far north of the Alps at a time when the Roman Empire was in terminal decline.
cro with wire reports
© SPIEGEL ONLINE 2008
All Rights Reserved
Reproduction only allowed with the permission of SPIEGELnet GmbH