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Ruins in Germany linked to Caesar era

The remains of a Roman military camp in Germany have been linked to Julius Caesar, making it the oldest Roman site in the country.

Archaeologist Sabine Hornung with a Roman shoe nail.[Credit: DPA / Thomas Frey]
The ruins, near the present-day town of Hermeskeil in western Germany, was first associated with the Romans in the 19th-century but was thought to date from long after Caesar.

In her first public presentation on the site, archaeologist Sabine Hornung explained on Monday how more than 70 rusty studs from the soles of sandals were discovered in the cracks between the cobbles of the camp gate, evidence that connects the site to the time of Caesar.

Although there is no proof the general ever visited the camp, his forces had massed at the site during the Gallic War, in which Caesar conquered the Celts and extended Rome's territory to the English Channel and the Rhine River.

"It's so lucky that we found these nails here," she said. "This moment in world history is now archaeologically accessible."

The nails, resembling drawing pins, occasionally fell out as soldiers walked. They can be precisely dated to the Gallic War period, along with lost coins and fragments of broken pottery in the camp's rubbish tip.

Much of the site has been levelled under fields growing maize, but a several metres high earthen wall, built by Roman soldiers with their spades, still exists in nearby woods.

"To see remains like this of a Caesarean military camp is unique," she said. "It's incredible good luck to have found it."

The Romans evidently picked the 26-hectare site - big enough to accommodate 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers - because it has its own spring.

Hornung said she was still looking for evidence that the unnamed camp was constructed as a springboard to attack a major hilltop Celtic stronghold five kilometres away.

"We would like to find catapult ammunition, because the commanding general's name might be embossed on it," she said. A dig at the site is expected to continue for five or six years.

Source: The Australian [September 11, 2012]
TANN

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