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Thread: Ancient Kelefeld Battlefield Changes History Books

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    Ancient Kelefeld Battlefield Changes History Books

    The items unearthed so far include an axe, still sharp after nearly 1,800 years; horseshoes; shovels; spearheads; and dozens of arrowheads for a Scorpio, a cross between a catapult and a crossbow -- the ancient equivalent of artillery.

    Researchers say the evidence suggests the Germanic tribesmen lured the Romans into the forest to keep them from making full use of long-range weapons and draw them into hand-to-hand combat, outside of the formations the imperial troops had mastered. However, they believe the Romans ultimately prevailed in the battle.

    "We have to write our history books anew, because what we thought was that the invasions of the Romans ended at 10 years after Christ," said Lutz Stratmann, science minister for the German state of Lower Saxony. "Now we know that it must be 200 or 250 after that."
    http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/eu...eld/index.html

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    Senior Member Alfadur's Avatar
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    Interesting news story, and pretty thought-provoking.

    I guess it just proves one of the key problems with the science of history - we are all too often at the mercy of our ancient sources. Tacitus wrote that after a few years of the defeat at Teutoburg, the Romans withdrew to their side behind the Rhine and never ventured again into Germania proper, and none of our other existing sources had contradicted him. So, our assumption has always been that Tacitus was essentially correct. Obviously, he wasn't correct, in light of the evidence that this excavation has turned up.

    At the same time, I'm trying to think deeper. Just the presence of a large Roman army isn't real proof that Romans controlled Germania. Actually, I think it shows exactly the opposite. The usual Roman practice was to deploy field armies into areas it did not control (i.e. into enemy territory, or areas threatened by revolt). The colonized areas under complete Roman control didn't really have much of a military presence, usually in the form of garrison troops operating from fortresses.
    My guess is that what we're looking at here are signs of a Roman punishment expedition, launched against the Saxons or other Germanic tribal groups. Maybe they had raided Roman provinces earlier on. We do know that the Romans built a system of shore fortifications to defend Roman Britannia against seaborne raids by Angles and Saxons. Personally, I think it's very probable that what we have here is evidence of a Roman anti-partisan operation into hostile territory, rather than an outright invasion to conquer Germanic lands. It's not unlike Americans sending in bombers and choppers into North Vietnam, to punish the Viet Cong for their terror attacks. Just as successful in the long run, too...LOL.

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    I've heard about the "Saxon Shore" as well (the Roman defenses in Southeast England against Saxon raiders), so the explanation that it was a punitive attack really makes sense. I guess the Germanics were just better at long-term war on their own land.

    Quote Originally Posted by Alfadur View Post
    It's not unlike Americans sending in bombers and choppers to North Vietnam, to punish the Viet Cong for their attacks. Just as successful in the long run, too...LOL.
    Or the Israeli Jews launching raids into Gaza against the Palestinians...

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    Great!! I love Germanic argeologic findings! I hope there will be more Frisian findings as well soon. Every bit of information would be great.

    By the way. It's annoying that they always write 'barbarians'. Why not just 'Germanics' or 'Teutons'. It is this that caused me to think as a young boy, that everyone north of the Roman empire was a savage madman. The Romans might have thought that, but we know better now, so why still call our forefathers barbarians :S
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    How did they determine that the romans won?

    who is leaving is weapons behind? the winner or the loser?

    which weapons they found? romans? why would they leave a Scorpio behind?

    the Scorpio was the artillery behind the frontline, always protect, because of it's powerful performance. when they left that behind (supposedly after a victory in hand-to-hand combat) that meant they either had to leave hastily or they have been dead.

    wikipedia writes that usually there was one scorpio per centurion (a hundred soldiers). they would not leave a useful weapon like this behind becuase other attacks might follow.

    they might have fended off the attackers with heavy losses and quick retreat, but that does not sound like a victory. It looks more like a total loss or a flight.
    weel nich will dieken dej mot wieken

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    And btw, Tacitus was long gone at the time of that battle
    weel nich will dieken dej mot wieken

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    What I find very interesting is the amount of iron left behind. In those times iron was valuable for both Romans and Germanics. It would make sense that the victor would salvage all iron found on the battle field. Iron can be reworked many times into many different things. That is the main reason there are not that many iron objects from that time period.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ocko View Post
    How did they determine that the romans won?

    who is leaving is weapons behind? the winner or the loser?

    which weapons they found? romans? why would they leave a Scorpio behind?

    the Scorpio was the artillery behind the frontline, always protect, because of it's powerful performance. when they left that behind (supposedly after a victory in hand-to-hand combat) that meant they either had to leave hastily or they have been dead.

    wikipedia writes that usually there was one scorpio per centurion (a hundred soldiers). they would not leave a useful weapon like this behind becuase other attacks might follow.

    they might have fended off the attackers with heavy losses and quick retreat, but that does not sound like a victory. It looks more like a total loss or a flight.
    Well, Swedish television showed a documentary about just this the other day. According to that they found a trail of Roman shoe studs extending for a kilometre or so beyond the battle site which indicated that the Romans had broken through the Germanic fortifications. They also said that the iron that they found were, apart from the studs, mostly arrow heads from ordinary arrows and from scorpio bolts; i.e. things that easily are lost and overlooked. I think that they found just one single Germanic lance tip.

    If I had been the German commander I would not have engaged the Romans in direct H2H-combat, but rather relied on forcing them to attack fortified positions while I showered them with projectiles. Then withdraw to the next position, all the while subjecting them to harassing attacks to the flanks and the rear, and—especially—their train and supply columns. Irritating them while they are crushed under the weight of the logistical apparatus.

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    It's not something very new that the Romans undertook punitive expeditions and even whole campaigns deep into German territory post 9 BC. We always had literary evidence, what we lacked so far was confirming physical evidence.

    It seems likely that the Romans indeed won that battle but had to leave most of their dead and their weapons behind because they were still in enemy territory and under the imminent threat of yet another German attack. Likely the area was still disputed years after, otherwise the Germans would've fetched the Roman weaponry and either use it for their own or sacrifice it in a bog.
    So it was most likely a tactical Phyrric victory and the Roman army returned to their encampments behind the border.
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    Indeed. It is a not too uncommon tactic to launch an attack in order to drive the enemy back a bit and put them into a defensive posture before you retreat. If you are standing in front of a large army on top of a hill, you just do not just turn around and walk home.

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