Scientists have determined the exact place of death of the XIX Roman legion

(ORDO NEWS) — In September of the ninth year of our era in the Teutoburg Forest, in the territory of modern Germany, a battle took place that put an end to the conquests of the Roman emperor Octavian Augustus.

There are very few descriptions of this battle: few of the Romans escaped, and the other side – the Germans – could not write. Researchers have now identified where one of the three fallen legions fought and died.

By the seventh year of our era, the Roman commander and future emperor Tiberius conquered the lands inhabited by Germanic tribes from the Rhine to the Elbe.

The Roman province of Germania was formed there. Periodically, uprisings broke out in some places, but they were quickly suppressed. There were usually five or six legions and a number of auxiliary units in the territory of the province.

The first governor of the province was Publius Quintilius Varus, who was not only a political intriguer, but also a very experienced commander – in the fourth year BC, it was he who crushed the Jewish uprising with lightning speed and very bloody. But in Germany something went wrong.

Scientists have determined the exact place of death of the XIX Roman legion 2
Three Roman legions died in these places

No, at first everything looked for the best: the leaders of the Germanic tribes showed friendliness to such an extent that Varus simply dispersed his forces throughout the province, sending a legion to catch the robbers. The Germans were preparing an uprising.

In the early autumn of the ninth year of our era, Varus led his legions to the Rhine for the winter. With him were three full legions (XVII, XVIII and XIX), six auxiliary cohorts and three alas – auxiliary groups from the cavalry.

Some historians believe that Var did not go for the winter, but to suppress a major uprising that broke out in the North German lands. Against this hypothesis is the fact that the army was accompanied by a convoy, in which there were women and children of legionnaires.

Whatever the reason for the campaign, as soon as the soldiers and the convoy were drawn into the Teutoburg Forest, they were attacked. This forest occupies a vast area, where beech forests interspersed with swampy terrain and hills.

The legionnaires were armed in a marching way (usually only a throwing spear and a light shield), so they had little to answer to a hail of stones, arrows and spears.

Historians evaluate the forces of the parties differently. The Germans, commanded by the leader of the Cherusci Arminius, were most likely about 15 thousand. The Romans, taking into account the convoy – from 15 to 20 thousand. Fewer than 5,000 Romans escaped death in the Teutoburg Forest.

All three legions perished, their eagles were captured by the Germans, the numbers of these legions were forever deleted from the lists of the Roman army. Var threw himself on the sword. The captured centurions were sacrificed to the gods, and ordinary legionnaires became slaves.

Some sources report that they were later seen fighting on the side of the barbarians. The border of the Roman Empire with the German lands ran along the Rhine. The conquests of Emperor Augustus in this direction were completed.

Now researchers from the German Mining Museum in Bochum and the Battle Museum in the Teutoburg Forest have analyzed the composition of chemical trace elements in Roman artifacts found on the battlefield. Mostly these artifacts are made of non-ferrous metals such as bronze and brass.

Scientists have determined the exact place of death of the XIX Roman legion 3
Metal items from the everyday life of Roman soldiers found in the Teutoburg Forest

Using a mass spectrometer, the researchers were able to determine the difference in the composition of non-ferrous metals – they are different for each legion.

The fact is that each legion had its own blacksmiths to repair and replace weapons or equipment. This gave their metalworking a special chemical signature, since the technique in the camp of different legions varied.

According to historical texts, the XIX Roman legion (Legio XIX) was stationed in Dangstetten in southern Germany a few years before the events in the Teutoburg Forest.

The scientists compared the compositions of the metal products from this place with the finds in the Teutoburg Forest and determined in which part of the forest the XIX Legion fought and completely died.

Scientists have determined the exact place of death of the XIX Roman legion 4
And this clasp was found where the XIX legion was quartered

Researchers are now planning to find reliable sources that will indicate where the other two legions who fell in that battle were stationed.

They hope that by comparing products from their areas of permanent deployment with finds from the Teutoburg Forest, it is possible to draw up a detailed map of the battle, that is, one that would make it clear where each of the three legions operated.

So far, we know (from archaeological finds) only the general direction of Var’s movement and where the Germans set up ambushes and delivered the main blows. The diagram you will find in a history textbook is very arbitrary. Perhaps the new method will change everything.


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