I’m pretty sure we’ll hear more about this in the coming days, but just in case we don’t … from the Local:
Archaeologists in have discovered fragments of a 2,000-year-old bronze Roman equestrian statue of Emperor Augustus in a stream near Giessen, the Hessian state science ministry has announced.
“There has never been a find of such quality and preservation in Germany,” a statement from the ministry said, adding that it was a “sensational” discovery.
On August 12, archaeologists pulled the gold-gilded, life-sized head of a horse and a shoe of the emperor – who ruled the Roman Empire between 23 BC and 14 AD – from a stream in what was once the Roman outpost Germania Magna. Experts there have uncovered several bits of the statue among some 20,000 artefacts uncovered at the site in recent years.
Scientists from the University of Jena believe it may have been destroyed by Roman soldiers retreating after the legendary Varusschlacht, or the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 AD, when Germanic tribes ambushed and wiped out three Roman legions. As the remaining Roman troops retreated after the devastating defeat, they destroyed most of what they could not take with them.
“Due to the location of the find, there is a unique possibility to date the statue to a few exact years and establish a connection to the events surrounding the Varusschlacht 2,000 years ago,” the statement said.
The ministry plans to make an official presentation of the find on August 27.
I’m not sure if the gilded hoof shown on this page is from this find or not …
UPDATE (08/26/09): I’ve had this nagging question for the past few hours … why is this connected with the Varus thing? Are we to believe that Roman armies marched around with large equestrian statues while on campaign? Or am I missing something?
UPDATE II (a few minutes later): The Wikipedia article on Waldgrimes suggests an incipient major settlement had started there and never finished (photos at Livius.org); presumably because of Varus. I wonder if this statue might not have been tossed in the river by the victorious Germans rather than retreating Roman armies …
- Archaeologists uncover large Roman statue of Augustus(The Local)
- Sensationsfund“: Goldener Pferdekopf aus Römerzeit (FAZ)
- „Sensationsfund“ in Wetzlar (from FAZ a few days ago; same site but no mention of the Augustus statue)
- 2,000-yr-old bronze statue of roman emperor Augustus discovered in Germany (ANI)