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Weapons at the battlefield of Kalkriese

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Archaeological investigations have been taking place at the Kalkriese Hill in Northern Germany since 1987. Roman coins and military equipment are the result of a battle between Romans and Germans, probably the Varus Battle (A.D. 9). It is the aim of our research project to reconstruct the course of the battle. It has become apparent that one cannot deduct the intensity of fighting by the number of finds. Instead, we have to take into account the impact of post-battle processes on the archaeological record, such as rescuing of wounded soldiers, looting by the victors and body-stripping. This paper illustrates the finds and features from Kalkriese, especially from the main site «Oberesch», where most of the Roman artefacts as well as a rampart built by Germans as an ambush against Roman troops, and a series of pits containing the bones of the dead Roman soldiers were found. In addition, new methodological approaches for the interpretation of ancient battlefields are presented. Desde 1987 se vienen realizando investigaciones arqueológicas en la colina de Kalkriese, en Alemania septentrional. El hallazgo de monedas y equipo militar romanos refleja una batalla entre romanos y germanos, probablemente la de Varo en el año 9 d.C. El propósito de nuestro proyecto de investigación es reconstruir el curso de la batalla. Se hace evidente que no se puede deducir la intensidad de la lucha por el número de hallazgos. Por el contrario, hemos de tener muy en cuenta los procesos posteriores a la batalla sobre el registro arqueológico, como el rescate de soldados heridos, la captura de botín por parte de los vencedores y el saqueo de los cadáveres. Este trabajo ilustra los hallazgos y las caractertísticas del yacimiento de Kalkriese, especialmente en el núcleo del ‘Oberesch’, donde se ha hallado la mayor parte de los artefactos romanos, además de una empalizada construida por los germanos para emboscar a los romanos, y una serie de hoyos que contenían los huesos de los soldados romanos caídos. Además, se presentan nuevas aproximaciones metodológicas para la interpretación de los antiguos campos de batalla. [fr] Différentes campagnes archéologiques ont été menées dans la montagne de Kalkriese, au nord de l’Allemagne, depuis 1987. Des monnaies romaines et des pièces d’équipement militaire y attestent le déroulement d’une bataille entre Romains et Germains, probablement celle de Varus en 9 p.C. L’objectif de notre projet de recherche consiste à reconstruire le déroulement de la bataille. Désormais, il est devenu clair qu’il n’est pas possible de déterminer l’intensité des combats à partir des concentrations de vestiges. Il faut en effet tenir compte de l’impact sur le registre archéologique des interventions immédiatement postérieures à la bataille elle-même, telles que la mise à l’écart des soldats blessés ou le pillage des dépouilles par les vainqueurs. Cet article présente les trouvailles et les caractéristiques du site de Kalkriese, en particulier de la zone principale de l’«Oberesch», où ont été retrouvés la plupart des objets romains ainsi que le rempart construit par les Germains pour tendre leur embuscade à l’armée romaine et une série de fosses contenant les ossements des soldats romains tués. Enfin, sont proposées de nouvelles approches méthodologiques pour l’interprétation des champs de bataille antiques.
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GLADIUS
Estudios sobre armas antiguas, arte militar
y vida cultural en oriente y occidente
XXX (2010), pp. 117-136
ISSN: 0436-029X
doi: 10.3989/gladius.2010.0006
Gladius, XXX (2010), pp. 117-136. ISSN: 0436-029X. doi: 10.3989/gladius.2010.0006
WEAPONS AT THE BATTLEFIELD OF KALKRIESE
ARMAS EN EL CAMPO DE BATALLA DE KALKRIESE
POR
ACHIM ROST* and SUSANNE WILBERS-ROST**
ABSTRACT - RESUMEN - RÉSUMÉ
Archaeological investigations have been taking place at the Kalkriese Hill in Northern Germany since 1987.
Roman coins and military equipment are the result of a battle between Romans and Germans, probably the Varus
Battle (A.D. 9). It is the aim of our research project to reconstruct the course of the battle. It has become apparent
that one cannot deduct the intensity of ghting by the number of nds. Instead, we have to take into account the
impact of post-battle processes on the archaeological record, such as rescuing of wounded soldiers, looting by the
victors and body-stripping. This paper illustrates the nds and features from Kalkriese, especially from the main site
«Oberesch», where most of the Roman artefacts as well as a rampart built by Germans as an ambush against Roman
troops, and a series of pits containing the bones of the dead Roman soldiers were found. In addition, new methodo-
logical approaches for the interpretation of ancient battle elds are presented.
Desde 1987 se vienen realizando investigaciones arqueológicas en la colina de Kalkriese, en Alemania septentrio-
nal. El hallazgo de monedas y equipo militar romanos re eja una batalla entre romanos y germanos, probablemente la
de Varo en el año 9 d.C. El propósito de nuestro proyecto de investigación es reconstruir el curso de la batalla. Se hace
evidente que no se puede deducir la intensidad de la lucha por el número de hallazgos. Por el contrario, hemos de tener
muy en cuenta los procesos posteriores a la batalla sobre el registro arqueológico, como el rescate de soldados heridos,
la captura de botín por parte de los vencedores y el saqueo de los cadáveres. Este trabajo ilustra los hallazgos y las
caractertísticas del yacimiento de Kalkriese, especialmente en el núcleo del ‘Oberesch’, donde se ha hallado la mayor
parte de los artefactos romanos, además de una empalizada construida por los germanos para emboscar a los romanos,
y una serie de hoyos que contenían los huesos de los soldados romanos caídos. Además, se presentan nuevas aproxima-
ciones metodológicas para la interpretación de los antiguos campos de batalla.
Différentes campagnes archéologiques ont été menées dans la montagne de Kalkriese, au nord de l’Allemagne,
depuis 1987. Des monnaies romaines et des pièces d’équipement militaire y attestent le déroulement d’une bataille
entre Romains et Germains, probablement celle de Varus en 9 p.C. L’objectif de notre projet de recherche consiste
à reconstruire le déroulement de la bataille. Désormais, il est devenu clair qu’il n’est pas possible de déterminer
l’intensité des combats à partir des concentrations de vestiges. Il faut en effet tenir compte de l’impact sur le registre
archéologique des interventions immédiatement postérieures à la bataille elle-même, telles que la mise à l’écart des
soldats blessés ou le pillage des dépouilles par les vainqueurs. Cet article présente les trouvailles et les caractéris-
tiques du site de Kalkriese, en particulier de la zone principale de l’«Oberesch», où ont été retrouvés la plupart des
objets romains ainsi que le rempart construit par les Germains pour tendre leur embuscade à l’armée romaine et
une série de fosses contenant les ossements des soldats romains tués. En n, sont proposées de nouvelles approches
méthodologiques pour l’interprétation des champs de bataille antiques.
* Universität Osnabrück, FB Kultur- und Geowissenschaften. Alte Geschichte: Archäologie der Römischen Provin-
zen, Schlossstr. 8, 49069 Osnabrück (Germany). arost@uni-osnabrueck.de
** Varusschlacht im Osnabrücker Land GmbH – Museum und Park Kalkriese, Department of Archaeology, Venner
Str. 69, 49565 Bramsche-Kalkriese (Germany), wilbers-rost@kalkriese-varusschlacht.de
ACHIM ROST and SUSANNE WILBERS-ROST
118
Gladius, XXX (2010), pp. 117-136. ISSN: 0436-029X. doi: 10.3989/gladius.2010.0006
KEYWORDS - PALABRAS CLAVE - MOTS CLÉS
Kalkriese; Teutoburg Forest; Battle eld; Varus Battle; Romans; Roman weapons; battle eld archaeology;
Arminius; Germans; ambush; looting.
Kalkriese; bosques de Teutoburgo; campo de batalla; matanza de Varo; romanos; armamento romano;
arqueología de campo de batalla; Armiño; germanos; emboscada; botín.
Kalkriese; forêt du Teutoburg; champ de bataille; désastre de Varus; Romains; armement romain; archéologie
des champs de bataille; Arminius; Germains; embuscade; butin.
INTRODUCTION
INTRODUCTION
1
Since 1987 we have been investigating in the vicinity of Kalkriese, a small village north
of Osnabrück (Berger, 1996; Schlüter, 1999; Harnecker/Tolksdorf-Lienemann, 2004; Wilbers-
Rost et alii, 2007; Harnecker, 2008; Rost, 2009d; Wilbers-Rost, 2009). The area is situated
between the edge of the Northern German uplands and the lowlands.
Approximately 1,500 Roman coins and more than 5,000 fragments of Roman military
equipment were brought to light; they are widely scattered in an area of more than 30 km2
between the Kalkriese Hill, a part of the Wiehengebirge, and the Great Bog which is situated
approximately 2 kms north of the mountains ( g. 1). The evidence indicates that Roman troops
must have passed this area in Augustan times. This bottleneck is passable only on narrow zo-
nes at the foot of the hill, where settlements of the indigenous population were constructed on
dry sand, and perhaps at the southern edge of the bog. Between these two zones there was a
wet sandy plain which could be passed only with dif culties.
1 We have to thank Dr. Ralph Häussler, University of Osnabrueck, for the improvement of our English manuscript.
1 km N
Site With Roman Finds
"Oberesch"
Field Survey
Figure 1. Kalkriese: area under investigation.
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119
Systematic excavations started in 1989 on a eld called «Oberesch», situated in the centre
of the area under investigation, where a concentration of coins and military objects had been
discovered during eld surveys. Roman military equipment –the face mask of a Roman helmet
was among the rst objects to be found– and the discovery of an arti cial rampart led to the
conclusion that this must have been the place of a battle between Romans and Germans. The
rampart was not part of an enclosure, but had been built by the Germans as an ambush to attack
Roman troops whom they must have expected to pass at this place. Further sites indicate that
actions did not only take place at the Oberesch, but at different locations between the hill and
the bog. It was a perfect location for a trap, since it was 70 to 100 kms to the nearest Roman
camps on the Rhine and the Lippe, i.e. in the case of a battle other Roman troops could not
easily reach the place to relief those who were in danger.
Silver coins, some gold coins and a large number of copper coins, some of them counter-
marked by Varus, the head of the Roman troops in Germany from A.D. 7 to 9, were found.
They date the event between A.D. 7 and 10 (Chantraine, 2002). Romans, probably Varus with
three legions who wanted to return to the Rhine area from a summer camp at the river Weser
in autumn of the year A.D. 9., must have been coming from the East; they already had been
attacked at various places before they reached the Kalkriese Hill and the Oberesch. The num-
ber of soldiers involved in the battle is still debated since a number of soldiers had stayed in the
camps on Rhine and Lippe in order to protect them and to organise the supply of the summer
camp. Maybe Varus had about 10.000 to 15.000 men on the march.
RAMPART AND BONE-PITS AT THE SITE «OBERESCH»
RAMPART AND BONE-PITS AT THE SITE «OBERESCH»
Among the features which are directly connected with the combats, the rampart at the
Oberesch site ( g. 2) is of signi cant importance (Wilbers-Rost, 2007: 30-84). It had a total
length of about 400 m and was almost zigzagging, resembling bastions of a post-medieval
V-Shaped Ditch
Rampart
Drainage Ditch
Pit With Bones
Palisade
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Pit 8
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Pit 2
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Figure 2. Site «Oberesch» with excavated trenches, rampart and bone pits.
ACHIM ROST and SUSANNE WILBERS-ROST
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fort. It must have had a width of about 4 m2 and a height of nearly 2 m, and at least in a small
section it had a palisade to protect the combatants on the wall. In some sections there was a
drainage ditch behind the rampart to prevent it from being destroyed by strong rain. The buil-
ders constructed it ef ciently, making use for example of the local topography. They also took
the material that was available in the immediate vicinity: sometimes turf and sand, sometimes
limestone where turf was rare ( g. 3).
2 There is a zone without any Roman nds which indicates the place of the original turf wall since the objects were
lost after the wall had been built. In the excavations we notice today the layer of the collapsed wall; this is much wider.
Figure 3. Western part of the rampart where sand, turf and sto-
nes were used for the construction; in the lower part the skele-
ton of a mule is slightly visible.
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121
The wall had different small passages; thus the Germans could leave the shelter of the
forti cation to ght, but they could also retreat fast3. With the rampart to the south, the wet
area to the north, creeks in the east and the west of the eld which was partly wooded, the site
«Oberesch» was like an encirclement that allowed the Germans to either let the Romans pass
or attack them. In spite of their large military might, the Varian troops would have found it
dif cult to ght successfully, nor could they escape unharmed.
Parts of the rampart must have collapsed during or shortly after the combat as can be seen
by skeletal remains, especially of mules. In two cases ( gs. 4 and 5) larger parts of mules’
skeletons with parts of their harness were preserved, having been covered by material of the
wall before wild animals could tear the carcasses away or before the Germans could plunder
the equipment.
3 Such a short-term construction with many passages and only one forti ed segment would not have made sense as
a Roman camp.
Figure 4. Complete skeleton of a mule.
ACHIM ROST and SUSANNE WILBERS-ROST
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Figure 5. Bones of a mule with metal parts of the equipment.
Figure 6. Bone pit no. 5; in the center the skull of a man.
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123
While those features were connected with the battle, there are other features at the Obe-
resch which indicate activities on the battle eld that probably took place some years later,
like a number of pits containing the bones of the dead ( g. 6). In these pits, human bones are
always mixed with animals bones. The skeletons are not complete and most of the bones are
only small fragments in a very bad condition. They must have been lying on the surface for
two to ten years before they were deposited (Großkopf, 2007: 176; Uerpmann and Uerpmann,
2007: 112). Some bones, mostly skulls, show cut marks by swords. All human bones are from
men4 between 20 and 40 years of age and well nourished. These were the bones of Roman
soldiers and animals of their baggage train; they were not buried immediately after the battle
but years later – probably in the year 15 when the Roman commander Germanicus visited the
place of the battle as Tacitus (Ann., 1.61-62) reports. So far, eight such bone pits have been
discovered: they probably represent a kind of massgraves for the legions of Varus.
ROMAN MILITARY EQUIPMENT
ROMAN MILITARY EQUIPMENT
The Roman items left on the battle eld indicate the presence of both ghting troops ( gs.
7-11) and a large baggage train5. From the baggage train we have a few pieces from wagons
and harnesses of mules or horses. Above these, there are fragments of glass and silver vessels
and glass eyes that probably were decorations of Roman furniture. They are indicators for
luxurious objects which might have been carried on the wagons and suggest that the Varian
troops did not expect to become involved in a battle since they had planned peaceful interac-
tion with the Germans. Furthermore, there are pioneer axes, different tools, medical instru-
ments, seal capsula and styli, weights and plummets among the nds.
Lance and spear heads, arrow heads, sling shots, pieces of pila and catapult bolts show the
use of long distance weapons, while fragments of scabbards indicate short distance weapons
like swords or daggers. Besides these weapons, we have found fragments of defensive arms,
like crest holders of helmets, ttings from shields, plates, buckles and ttings from laminated
armour and hooks from ring mail shirts; moreover, pieces of belts and apron ttings were
found. In addition, brooches, nger rings and many nails of sandals were excavated. The pre-
sence of cavalry is indicated by nds of snaf e bits and spurs.
Most artefacts are very small. Only a few of the 5,000 objects from the Oberesch are com-
plete and many show signs of destruction. When analysing nds from the Oberesch ( g. 12),
we realised that we often nd small fragments of equipment that were xed to the soldier’s
body ( g. 13), such as buckles and plates from armour, hooks from ring mail shirts, scabbard
ttings, belt buckles and apron ttings. One may explain their condition as the result of body
stripping by the Germans who plundered the battle eld. The possibility to participate in loo-
ting was one of the reasons for Germans to ght against the Romans as Cassius Dio (56.18-23)
reports, and the evidence suggests that they did this quite brutally and systematically, resulting
in many small nds, especially of the equipment xed to the soldiers, which was brutally pu-
lled off. These nds are scattered primarily in front of the rampart and seem to indicate places
where dead soldiers had been lying on the surface.
4 There was only one bone of a woman (Großkopf, 2007: 174).
5 The catalogue of all nds from the rst digs at the Oberesch has now been published by Joachim Harnecker (Har-
necker, 2008). Figures 7-11 in this article are copies of the plates in that volume, and we have to thank J. Harnecker for
leaving them to us.
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M. 1:3
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Figure 7. Kalkriese-Oberesch: head and collets of pila, lanceheads (iron).
WEAPONS AT THE BATTLEFIELD OF KALKRIESE
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M. 1:3
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Figure 8. Lance- and spearheads, catapult bolts, lance butts (iron).
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Figure 9. Fragments of scabbards (bronze) and of a sword blade (iron).
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M.1:2
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Figure 10. Crest holders, buckles and hinges of laminated armour (iron).
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Figure 11. Rings and hooks from ring mail shirts, belt buckles and ttings, apron ttings (iron, bronze,
partly silver plated).
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Figure 12. Roman artefacts from excavation and eld survey at the site Oberesch.
Figure 13. Roman legionary of Augustan time
with equipment (following Horn 1987, g. 1).
Shaded: objects found in Kalkriese.
ACHIM ROST and SUSANNE WILBERS-ROST
130
Gladius, XXX (2010), pp. 117-136. ISSN: 0436-029X. doi: 10.3989/gladius.2010.0006
When mapping Roman artefacts, one notices another peculiarity: bronze ttings of shields,
many of them folded several times ( g. 14), concentrate exclusively in the immediate vicinity
of the rampart ( g. 15). Obviously the Germans, who were primarily interested in the metal as
raw material and less in the complete objects, collected shields near the wall where the metal
parts were separated from the wooden parts which were left, while the metal ttings were pre-
pared by folding for an easier transportation and carried away. Even the most famous among
the nds from the Oberesch, the iron face mask of a Roman helmet ( g. 16), was destroyed.
Originally it had been plated with silverfoil which the German plunderers cut and picked up.
The looters carried away nearly everything as they could use it or melt it down. Tons of
metal must have been left on the eld after the battle, but the losers were despoiled by the
victors and most of the objects were taken away. Therefore we do not nd complete armour6
but only those pieces and fragments which the Germans who plundered the battle eld failed
to notice.
6 Not even a complete gladius was discovered.
Figure 14. Long fragment of a bronze shield tting, bent several times.
WEAPONS AT THE BATTLEFIELD OF KALKRIESE
Gladius, XXX (2010), pp. 117-136. ISSN: 0436-029X. doi: 10.3989/gladius.2010.0006
131
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Figure 15. Distribution of metal parts of shields at the site «Oberesch» (trenches 1-22).
ACHIM ROST and SUSANNE WILBERS-ROST
132
Gladius, XXX (2010), pp. 117-136. ISSN: 0436-029X. doi: 10.3989/gladius.2010.0006
FIND DISTRIBUTION IN THE AREA UNDER INVESTIGATION
FIND DISTRIBUTION IN THE AREA UNDER INVESTIGATION
On the Oberesch, the rampart, the number of Roman artefacts and the bone-pits indicate
heavy ghting and many casualties. This seems to be the centre of the disaster at the Kalkriese
Hill ( g. 1). But what are the possible reasons to explain the discrepancy in nd distribution in
the whole area under investigation which has a size of more than 30 km2? The amount of Ro-
man nds is quite diverging: there are about 5,000 Roman items from the Oberesch, but only
about 500 from all the other places, although the excavated sections are of nearly equal size.
In the early years of this research project, we thought that we may use the number of
nds as an indicator for the intensity of ghting. Meanwhile we know that additional factors
determine the archaeological remains of a battle eld, especially the processes that follow the
ghting. We have to bear in mind these post-battle processes before we can draw conclusions
for the course of the battle.
From ancient sources like Cassius Dio (56.18-23) we know about the desire of the Ger-
mans for booty. Tacitus (Ann., 1.64) on the other hand describes that the Roman army under
Caecina which fought against the Germans in A.D. 15 was trained to rescue the baggage train
and to take care for their wounded comrades as long as possible. For Kalkriese, this would
imply that the Romans should have been able to carry away their wounded and the equipment
in the rst part of this battle in a de le. These are two important components of military beha-
viour, which we have to take into account when we try to interpret the distribution of artefacts
on an ancient battle eld: rescuing the dead and wounded and the looting by the victors are
activities during a battle, and in particular at the end of the ghting, which may not only have
Figure 16. Face mask of a Roman helmet (iron, edged with
bronze, fragments of silver; length: 16,9 cm).
WEAPONS AT THE BATTLEFIELD OF KALKRIESE
Gladius, XXX (2010), pp. 117-136. ISSN: 0436-029X. doi: 10.3989/gladius.2010.0006
133
reduced but even manipulated the material remains of a battle to a high degree. Kalkriese may
be used as a case study, where the impact of such post-battle processes can be analysed7.
The Roman army had to pass the narrow passage between hill and bog, marching in a long
row. Unable to organise a concentrated formation in that landscape, the legions were attacked
by German troops from the side at several places in an area of approximately 15 km along the
hill while marching from east to west.
The ghting started east of the Oberesch. However, the rst attacks of the Germans proba-
bly did not cause any substantial losses for the Roman army. We therefore should not expect
to discover many archaeological nds for the rst phase of the engagement. More intensive
ghting would have subsequently resulted in more wounded and dead soldiers. But it might be
wrong to expect an adequate number of remains, because the Romans should still have been
able to take care of the wounded soldiers and the baggage train. As long as the organisation of
the army, especially the medical service, functioned, they should have been able to carry the
wounded along with the intact parts of the legions. Since there was no reason for the Romans
to transport their wounded people undressed, only very few pieces of equipment, especially of
those pieces which were xed to the soldiers would have been left. This may explain why only
about 10 % of the nds were discovered outside the Oberesch.
Being a battle in a de le, we can expect that a large number of wounded who were injured
in earlier actions reached the central section of the battle where the military organisation, in-
cluding medical services and logistics, collapsed and the troops were largely annihilated8. At
this site, many soldiers were killed, among them those who had reached the site as invalids,
and though they had probably not fought there any more, their equipment was of course also
left. This phenomenon may have resulted in the enormous divergence of nd distribution bet-
ween remains from the Oberesch and from areas east of this site. At the Oberesch the remarka-
ble number of fragments of the legionaries’ equipment which was xed to the body indicates
the brutal despoiling of the dead soldiers at this central place of the disaster.
West and northwest of the Oberesch fewer Roman items were discovered, but among
them were precious objects like coin hoards and a silver scabbard (Franzius, 1999). How can
we explain this? In the development of the battle, these sites may be interpreted as zones of
skirmishes and ight, following the annihilation of the legions. Fewer soldiers may have died
there, but more soldiers might have been captured; probably there was less equipment left to
be plundered. Besides, the Romans could have tried to hide valuable parts of their equipment
like coins and scabbards when they realised that they would not be able to escape.
At the Oberesch many more of such valuable objects may have existed at the end of the
ghting. However, as these pieces were attached to the numerous dead and wounded legio-
naries that were concentrated at this place, they were well visible and plunderers could have
been much more successful in retrieving all these valuable objects than in zones where such
items were lying isolated.
METHODOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES FOR BATTLEFIELD STUDIES
METHODOLOGICAL CONSEQUENCES FOR BATTLEFIELD STUDIES
As we have seen, the interpretation of a battle in the landscape heavily depends on the
record of the nds, because we usually lack other features, like forti cations. Sometimes
7 A third factor are offerings which are said to have been performed by the Germans after the Varus Battle (Tacitus
Ann., 1.61); however, no evidence has been found at Kalkriese until today to support this statement (Rost, 2009b: 73-76).
8 Dealing with the medical care of wounded soldiers in the Varian army: Rost, 2009c.
ACHIM ROST and SUSANNE WILBERS-ROST
134
Gladius, XXX (2010), pp. 117-136. ISSN: 0436-029X. doi: 10.3989/gladius.2010.0006
arrowheads and sling shots may help to identify an ancient battle eld (Rost, 2007: 51; Rost,
2009a: 105-107). Comparable to the ammunition of rearms from more recent battle elds
they are too small and worthless to be collected, so that the distribution of such projectiles may
indeed indicate the intensity of combats.
In Kalkriese, however, only two arrowheads and three slingshots were found9. In contrast
to these «one-way weapons» most of the fragments discovered in Kalkriese are not a result of
ghting but of the subsequent processes, especially looting and body stripping.
One of the main reasons for the numerous military remains in Kalkriese may be that a large
army involved in the ghting was equipped with many metal weapons and accompanied by a
large baggage train and that the troops were totally defeated far away from a region under Ro-
man control. The losers, without hope for relief, were completely left to the arbitrariness of the
victors. The Germans did not spare the defeated Romans and despoiled them brutally. Besides,
the Germans started processing metal objects on the battle eld itself; this also resulted in the
many fragments which entered the archaeological record.
The Kalkriese battle eld has another advantage over other sites for the study of relics from
a military con ict: it is situated in an area beyond Roman control and we can be sure that the
Roman objects belong to the battle, not to a Roman settlement. It would be much harder to get
evidence for a battle when smaller armies or troops who did not have equipment with many
metal artefacts were involved in a combat. The scarcity of Germanic items in Kalkriese points
out another phenomenon: victors who won in their own territory are often able to care for their
wounded soldiers and to bury the dead away from the battle eld, so that their equipment is
being removed from the battle eld, too.10
One may conclude that it is less the action, but the extent of clearing a battle eld after the
ghting had come to an end that may explain the dif culty in nding archaeological evidence
for a military con ict. Depending on the political and social circumstances, this may be the
recovery of wounded and corpses on each side but as well the looting which may include body
stripping of the losers. In Kalkriese we are able to compare sites with varying qualities and
quantities of nd distribution. It is possible to identify different activity zones; step by step we
can reconstruct the development of a battle which led into a disaster.
The site of Kalkriese clearly demonstrates that ancient battle elds are a category of their
own regarding the survival patterns of archaeological nds - patterns which are very different
from funerary, sacred or settlement sites. It is thus necessary to develop a new methodological
framework to interpret ancient battle elds adequately.
BIBLIOGRAPHY
BIBLIOGRAPHY
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Osnabrück». Germania, 77: 567-608.
Grosskopf, B. (2007): «Die menschlichen Überreste vom Oberesch in Kalkriese», Wilbers-Rost, S.,
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disziplinäre Untersuchungen auf dem Oberesch in Kalkriese. Archäologische Befunde und natur-
9 Perhaps units using such weapons were not involved in the battle to a large extent.
10 Besides, in Kalkriese, some of the Germans might have fought with Roman weapons because they had served in
auxiliary troops under the leadership of Arminius.
WEAPONS AT THE BATTLEFIELD OF KALKRIESE
Gladius, XXX (2010), pp. 117-136. ISSN: 0436-029X. doi: 10.3989/gladius.2010.0006
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Recibido: 13/10/2009
Aceptado: 12/04/2010
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Actualmente, nadie pone en duda que el conocimiento técnico de las armas utilizadas en un crimen es imprescindible para avanzar en su investigación. Este principio básico es habitualmente ignorado o pasado por alto en las investigaciones policiales realizadas sobre los expolios arqueológicos. No obstante, como veremos, el conocimiento sobre las herramientas y procedimientos utilizados en un expolio puede facilitar la caracterización del delincuente y proporcionar datos relevantes para la investigación. La utilización de los detectores de metal sigue siendo todavía un anatema en algunos círculos académicos. No obstante, son herramientas, que bien utilizadas, resultan de la máxima utilidad en el método arqueológico y en la investigación asociada al mismo y absolutamente necesarias para el estudio de los campos de batalla, la localización y excavación de fosas comunes o la investigación de vías de comunicación antiguas. Además de complementar a la investigación arqueológica tradicional, la prospección con detectores de metal tiene la indudable ventaja de ampliar el campo de investigación a zonas donde no existen evidencias localizables a simple vista. Cada vez es más frecuente, en la amplia casuística de los atentados al patrimonio arqueológico, recibir la denuncia de la localización de un escenario arqueológico expoliado con detectores de metales, reconocible para el público en general por la aparición en yacimientos conocidos de numerosos agujeros realizados con herramientas ligeras. El análisis detallado y especializado de este escenario puede ofrecer datos muy relevantes para orientar la investigación, y para ello resulta imprescindible un mínimo conocimiento de los modelos, tipos y uso de los diferentes sistemas de detección metálica.
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Se presenta una revisión y análisis de los datos arqueológicos que señalan la presencia del ejército bárquida en la costa sureste de Iberia (actual provincia de Alicante) durante la Segunda Guerra Púnica, así como indicios materiales de asedios a los oppida ibéricos más importantes de la región.
Article
Iron Age martial ritual sites constitute some of the richest archaeological evidence that violence and mass behavior not only became increasingly a part of the political reality in the Iron Age, but that it subsequently began to permeate the religious sphere. Of particular interest are the post-conflict ritual sanctuaries of Northern Gaul and the war bogs of Scandinavia, both of which display the remains of violent conflicts with exceptional amounts of (often mutilated) weapon paraphernalia and/or human remains. The purpose of this paper is to examine the linkage between these two traditions in the period 200 BC-AD 200. It is based on a new compilation of 80 sites with post-conflict ritual practices from this period. We suggest that the significant latitude in the combination of different martial practices and elements points both to local customs and to supra-regional links. This pattern is explained by the existence of a partly shared symbolic reservoir of symbols and practices. Dependent on differing ritual governance structures, different patterns come about in the archaeological record. In this respect, post-conflict sites represent largely self-organized settings associated with large-scale conflicts, assembled groups, and high-arousal group behavior. They thus differ from governing structures at community or family group level. This approach gives post-conflict rituals a new and more central role in the development and upholding of ritual traditions across Iron Age Northern Europe.
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