Sep
27
Filed Under (Classics, Latin) by oknorr on 27-09-2012

Archaeologists from the University of Mainz have discovered the first Roman military camp from the time of Julius Caesar on German soil.

Situated in a corn field 30 km (20 miles) southeast of Trier, near the small town of Hermeskeil, this camp had a size of 26 hectares, enough to shelter 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers. Built in trapezoid form, it enclosed its own spring to provide the Romans with a secure source of water. No more than 5 km (3 miles) from the camp, there are remains of a settlement of the Celtic Treveri, which was protected by a Celtic fort, the so-called Hunnenring (Huns’ Ring) near Otzenhausen. This fortification, as has long been known, was abandoned in the first century BCE.

Part of the original Roman camp wall is still preserved in a piece of forest bordering the corn field. The rest has been plowed over so many times that it could not be discerned by untrained eyes. Inside the camp, excavators discovered pot sherds, late-republican coins, and a hand mill, which legionaries used to grind their daily ration of grain in order to prepare the staple of Roman diet, a kind of gruel named puls.  The most important discovery, however, are 70 rusty, 1-inch long, umbrella-shaped hobnails from the Roman legionaries’ boots. As one of the excavators, Dr. Sabine Hornung from the University of Mainz, explains, the length and shape of these hobnails, which prevented the Romans from slipping on the muddy ground, allow experts to date them to the Caesarian period.

A recent article in the German Süddeutsche Zeitung (link) offers pictures of the hobnails and of the excavation site.
More pictures can be found on the Uni Mainz site (link)

Below is a link to a brief video clip from Stern TV:
Oldest Roman camp in Germany