Crossing the Rubicon


Republication from  followinghadrian.com

On this day (10th January) in 49 BC, Julius Caesar and his troops famously crossed the Rubicon, the river marking the boundary between the province of Cisalpine Gaul and Italy. Taking the 13th Legion over this forbidden frontier constituted an act of treason and triggered civil war in Rome. According to the historian Suetonius, Caesar uttered the famous phrase ālea iacta est (“the die is cast”).

The Green Caesar, Greywacke from Egypt, 1 - 50 AD, Altes Museum Berlin
The Green Caesar, Greywacke from Egypt, 1 – 50 AD, Altes Museum Berlin

Last June, I travelled along the Via Aemilia in the footsteps of Julius Caesar, crossing the river and following the soon to be dictator’s path towards Rome.


Dutch archaeologists discover the location of Caesar’s battle and massacre on the Tencteri and Usipetes tribes

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Republication from the VU University of Amsterdam


Hundreds of skulls and other bones, considered to belong to the massacred Germanics were found in the excavated location (credit: VU University of Amsterdam).

VU archaeologists discover location of historic battle fought by Caesar in Dutch river area

Earliest known battle on Dutch soil.

At a press conference held on Friday 11 December in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, archaeologist Nico Roymans from the VU Amsterdam announced a discovery that is truly unique for Dutch archaeology: the location where the Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar massacred two Germanic tribes in the year 55 BC. The location of this battle, which Caesar wrote about in detail in Book IV of his De Bello Gallico, was unknown to date. It is the earliest known battle on Dutch soil. The conclusions are based on a combination of historical, archaeological, and geochemical data.

Skeletal remains, swords and spearheads
It is the first time that the presence of Caesar and his troops in Dutch territory has been explicitly proven. The finds from this battle include large numbers of skeletal remains, swords, spearheads, and a helmet. The two Germanic tribes, the Tencteri and the Usipetes, originated in the area east of the Rhine and had explicitly appealed to Caesar for asylum. Caesar rejected this request for asylum and ordered his troops to destroy the tribes by violent means. Nowadays, we would label such action genocide.
During the press conference, Roymans described in detail the discoveries made in Kessel (North Brabant) and their historical significance. He also showed weapons and skeletal remains from this battle.





By  Periklis    Deligiannis


This  article is actually a sub-chapter of my published  book  ‘The Celts‘ (Γαλάτες), Periscope publ., Athens 2008, available only in Greek.


After  the  sharp  diminution  of  the  Celts  of  Central  Europe  by  the  Germans  (58  BC)  and  the  Romans,  Greater  Gaul,  the  country  that  lies  between  the  Rhine,  the  Alps  and  the  Pyrenees,  became  the  main  Celtic  area  in  mainland  Europe.  Gaul  (as  it  is  usually  called  for  short,  because  of  the  Romans),  Noricum,  Raetia (partly) and Northwestern Pannonia in Central Europe,  Gallaicia  (Galicia), Asturia and Cantabria  in  the  Iberian  peninsula,  and  finally  the  British  islands,  were  the  last  independent  Celtic  areas.

Shortly  before  the  Roman  conquest  of  Gaul  (or  Galatia  in  ancient  Greek)  by  Julius  Caesar,  about  sixty  tribes  shared  its  territory.  The  largest  of  these  tribes  (the  Arverni,  Aedui,  Pictones  etc.)  occupied  each  one  a  territory  of  about  15-20,000  sq.  km.,  with  a  population  of  up  to  250,000  inhabitants.  The  Celtic  tribes  were  divided  into  sub-tribes  called  pagi.  The  60  Celtic  peoples  of  Gaul  included  a  total  of  300  sub-tribes.  Many  of  these  pagi  were  originally  independent  tribes  which  were  gradually  incorporated  in  the  largest  ones,  either  by  conquest  or  by  conciliation.
The  linguists  have  estimated  that  the  tribes  of  the  Volcae,  the  Helvii  (close  relatives  of  the  Helvetii  of  modern  Switzerland),  the  Turones,  the  Nervii,  the  Suessiones,  the  Veneti,  the  Venelli  and  the  Aulerci  were  the  oldest  that  were  formed,  because  the  etymology  of  their  national  names  is  rather  difficult.  Some  of  these  tribes  were  probably  formed  initially  in  Central  Europe,  mostly  in  the  north  of  the  Alps  (the  Celtic/Gallic  cradle).  The  peoples  with  tribal  names  of  numeric  type  are  considered  to  be  later  tribal  formations,  e.g.  The  Remi  (meaning  the  ‘first  ones’  in  Gallic  Celtic),  the  Petrokorii  (the  ‘four  tribes’)  the  Vocontii  (‘twenty  clans’).  The  same  goes  for  the  tribes  whose  national  names  are  annominations  or  epithets,  e.g.  the  Ruteni  (the  ‘blonde  ones’,  a  Proto-Indo-European  verbal  type  found  today  in  the  names  of  the    Russians  and  the  Ruthenians  of  Eastern  Europe),  the  Leuci  (the  ‘bright  ones’,  like  the  Greek  ‘leucos’  meaning  the  ‘white’), the  Belgae (the ‘thunders’,  Belgians),   the  Nemetes  (the  ‘sacred’),  the  Aedui  (the  ‘fiery’),  the  Pictones  (possibly  the  ‘painted  ones’  like  the  Picts  of  Pictland/Caledonia,  modern  Scotland),  the  Caleti  (the  ‘hardened’),  the  Lemovices  or  Lemovii  (‘warriors  of  the  elm’,  which  was  their  totemic  tree)  the  Medulli  (the  ‘mead  drinkers’)  etc.


Celtic  warriors  in  an  impressive  artwork.  Note  the  two  naked  Gaesati/Gaesatae  warriors  in  the  frontline,  with  their  hair  stiffened  with  lime  or  lemon  juice.  Another  warrior  blows  the  ‘carnyx’,  the  Celtic  war  trumpet  (Copyright:  Zvezda  /Karatchuk  (artist)).


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