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Armour of Roman legionary unearthed in Germany

Archaeologists working at Kalkriese, Germany, have unearthed an entire cuirass belonging to a Roman soldier who belonged to one of three legions wiped out by Germanic tribesmen in 9 AD. 

Armour of Roman legionary unearthed in Germany
The near-complete set of Roman armour was discovered by archaeologists working
in Kalkriese, Germany [Credit: Museum und Park Kalkriese]

According to the director of the museum at Kalkriese, Stefan Burmeister, the armour may have belonged to a Roman soldier who was sacrificed by German warriors after the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest. 

"The new find - which is the oldest and most complete Roman armour find ever - is both unique and tragic", he said.

Armour of Roman legionary unearthed in Germany
Restorer Rebekka Kuiter exposes the armour layer by layer
[Credit: Museum und Park Kalkriese]

Near to the soldier's shoulders a shrew's fiddle was found which was used to lock a person's wrists in an iron board around the neck.

Given the value of the Roman armour, experts were left wondering why the Germanic warriors didn't loot any trophies, but Burmeister explained that the execution of the soldier may have been a sacred ritual.

Armour of Roman legionary unearthed in Germany
The armour was composed of several metal plates, which protected the upper bodies
of Roman legionaries [Credit: Museum und Park Kalkriese]

Armour of Roman legionary unearthed in Germany
Illustration of legionary in lorica segmentata
[Credit: Roland Warzecha]

"Maybe we have a ritual context to the situation here. In that case the body and equipment would have been taboo", he said.

The Battle of the Teutoburg Forest saw almost 15,000 Roman soldiers slaughtered at the hands of Germanic soldiers and is considered to be one of the two great military defeats in the Empire's history.

Armour of Roman legionary unearthed in Germany
Also discovered with the armour was a Roman shrew's fiddle which was used to lock the
hands of a person near to their neck [Credit: Museum und Park Kalkriese]

As they travelled through the thick forest towards a winter fort, they were subjected to small hit-and-run attacks by Arminius, a warlord from the Cherusci tribe.

The Romans had been under the command of Publius Quinctilius Varus, a general under the emperor Augustus when they were defeated.

Experts examining the discovery believe that the craftmanship is better than previously thought and that it showed how Roman design changed over the centuries. 

Author: Sam Baker | Source: Daily Mail [September 26, 2020]

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