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.




Rocroi a

Background  to  the  Battle  of  Rocroi,    the  Thirty  Years  War  (1618-1648)  was  the  most  traumatic  event  to  affect  Europe  prior  to  the  Napoleonic  Era  and  the  two  world  wars  of  the  20th  century.  It  was  centered  mainly  in  the  Holy  Roman  Empire  –  which  encompassed  much  of  modern-day  Germany  –  and  its  conflicts  between  Catholic  and  Protestant  rulers.  It  devolved  into  a  general  political  conflict.  Its  several  stages  are  marked  by  which  nation  was  the  chief  antagonist  to  the  Catholic/Imperialist  forces.  Beginning  in  1635,  France  joined  the  war  in  opposition  to  the  Spanish-Imperialist  side.  Though  an  overwhelmingly  Catholic  nation,  France  had  been  fiscally  supporting  Protestant  Sweden  earlier  in  the  war.  In  addition,  France  was  a  longtime  rival  of  Spain  and  the  Holy  Roman  Empire,  the  two  main  allies  opposing  the  Protestant  factions  in  the  war.  The  “man  behind  the  curtains”  of  the  French  kingdom  in  the  early  seventeenth  century  was  Armand  Jean  de  Plessis,  better  known  to  history  as  Cardinal  Richelieu.  He  combined  the  spiritual  power  of  a  cardinal  with  the  temporal  power  of  a  political  boss,  becoming  the  first  modern  prime  minister.  Richelieu  advised  Louis  XIII  in  all  things,  but  was  most  responsible  for  French  moves  to  counterbalance  the  power  of  the  Spanish-Austrian  Hapsburgs,  the  most  powerful  dynasty  in  Europe  at  that  time.


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