For two years, about 500 samples were taken and analyzed using mineral analysis. Findings can confirm Kalkriese as the site of the Battle of Varus, but doubts remain.
Was Kalkriese the site of the historic Battle of Varus? Experts have disagreed about this for years. However, mineral analyzes of the finds now support the hypothesis that this place near Osnabrück could have been the scene of the legendary battle under Roman general Varus between the Romans and Germans over 2,000 years ago.
As reported by Bramsche’s Varus Battle Museum, a kind of mineral imprint of the XIX Romanian Legion was taken for a doctoral dissertation that was written at the German Mining Museum in Bochum. This fingerprint describes the characteristic composition of chemical trace elements in Roman non-ferrous metals such as bronze or brass. It can be analyzed using a mass spectrometer. The research project was funded by the Volkswagen Foundation.
Since the non-ferrous metal composition of the Roman armies can be discerned, the results suggest that the XIXth Legion, which fell with General Varus, can be traced back to Kalkriese. For the research project, about 550 samples were taken and chemically analyzed over the course of more than two years. Non-ferrous metal finds from seven Corps sites were compared. They come from belt buckles, cloak pins, or belt holders.
The XIX Corps was stationed years before the Battle of Pharos, which was devastating for the Romans, in today’s Dangstetten (Baden-Württemberg). “When we compare the finds from Kalkreis with finds from other sites, we find that the finds from Dangstetten and Kalkrez show a great similarity,” said Annika Dieckmann, research assistant at the Bochum Mining Museum.
For comparison, finds from legionary sites that did not lose their legions in the Battle of Varus show distinct differences from finds from Kalkriese. A storage location in Haltern has also been agreed upon.
The Germans defeated the Romans
In the ninth year AD, the Romans suffered a devastating defeat under General Varus. The Germans defeated three Roman legions. More than 10,000 people died in that time. Since the 1990s, thousands of archaeological ruins have drawn scholars’ attention to Calcares as a possible site of the Battle of Pharos.
However, there are still scholarly arguments against Kalkriese as the site of the Battle of Varus. Archaeological evidence could also come from a battle that took place six years after the Battle of Varus under the general Germanicus in the course of the Roman campaigns of revenge. “We see ourselves as a museum based on research and, based on our own understanding, we are interested in confronting scientific criticism,” said the museum’s managing director, Stefan Burmeister. (dpa)
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