Evidence of Caesar’s Troops … In Germany?

This one seems to be just filtering out to the English press … the most coherent so far is News.com’s coverage:

THE remains of a Roman military camp in Germany have been linked to Julius Caesar, making it the oldest Roman site in the country.

The ruins, near the present-day town of Hermeskeil in western Germany, was first associated with the Romans in the 19th-century but was thought to date from long after Caesar.

In her first public presentation on the site, archaeologist Sabine Hornung explained on Monday how more than 70 rusty studs from the soles of sandals were discovered in the cracks between the cobbles of the camp gate, evidence that connects the site to the time of Caesar.

Although there is no proof the general ever visited the camp, his forces had massed at the site during the Gallic War, in which Caesar conquered the Celts and extended Rome’s territory to the English Channel and the Rhine River.

“It’s so lucky that we found these nails here,” she said. “This moment in world history is now archaeologically accessible.”

The nails, resembling drawing pins, occasionally fell out as soldiers walked. They can be precisely dated to the Gallic War period, along with lost coins and fragments of broken pottery in the camp’s rubbish tip.

Much of the site has been levelled under fields growing maize, but a several metres high earthen wall, built by Roman soldiers with their spades, still exists in nearby woods.

“To see remains like this of a Caesarean military camp is unique,” she said. “It’s incredible good luck to have found it.”

The Romans evidently picked the 26-hectare site – big enough to accommodate 5,000 to 10,000 soldiers – because it has its own spring.

Hornung said she was still looking for evidence that the unnamed camp was constructed as a springboard to attack a major hilltop Celtic stronghold five kilometres away.

“We would like to find catapult ammunition, because the commanding general’s name might be embossed on it,” she said. A dig at the site is expected to continue for five or six years.

via: Ruins in Germany linked to Caesar era (News.com)

See also (in the German press … doesn’t seem to add much):

FWIW, I really don’t get the Caesar connection … I can’t figure out which legions these would supposedly be. XIII? VII?

UPDATE: a few seconds later … must have missed this in my own Blogosphere updates … Adrian Murdoch (who follows the German press much more closely than I can) is covering this … the most recent links to his previous coverage:

CJ Online Review: Launaro, Peasants and Slaves

posted with permission:

Peasants and Slaves: The Rural Population of Roman Italy (200 BC to AD 100). By Alessandro Launaro. Cambridge Classical Studies. Cambridge and New York: Cambridge University Press, 2011. Pp. xiv + 349. Hardcover, £65.00/$110.00. ISBN 978-1-107-00479-5.

Reviewed by David B. Hollander, Iowa State University

Launaro’s monograph, a major contribution to the study of Roman demography in the late Republic and early Empire, uses Italian field survey evidence to build a persuasive case against the so-called “low-count” estimate of 5 to 7 million inhabitants for Italy at the beginning of the Empire.

The book consists of seven chapters divided between four parts. Part I (Chapters 1 and 2) reviews the debate over Roman demography, which hinges on how one explains the difference between the 910,000 Roman citizens reported in the census of 70/69 BCE and the Augustan figure for 28 BCE of 4,063,000. Those who subscribe to the “low count” interpret the former figure as reporting just adult male citizens and the latter as including women and children. When one factors out the newly enfranchised citizens of Transpadana (46 BCE) and Romans living in the provinces, there is little room for late Republican population growth in Italy. Those who favor the “high count” think both figures refer just to adult male citizens, implying some growth during the late Republic and an Italian population of around 14 million by the reign of Augustus. There is also the “middle count” put forward by Saskia Hin which suggests that the Augustan census figure counts citizens sui iuris and leads to an estimate of 7.5 million for 28 BCE. Launaro contends that the low count necessarily implies that Italy’s rural population declined in the late Republic while the middle and high counts do not entail such a trend. Thus field survey may hold the key to choosing among these options.

Part II (Chapters 3 and 4) turns to landscape archaeology and examines the methodological problems associated with deriving population numbers from site finds and comparing the results of different surveys. Launaro argues that it makes more sense to look for trends in settlement rather than specific population figures. He then describes his method for integrating survey results and the various assumptions it entails. This “operational methodology” allows him to compare the number of observed farms, villas, and villages in the late Republic (200–50 BCE) with the early Empire (50 BC–100 CE).

Part III (Chapter 5) discusses the surveys which constitute Launaro’s evidence. Each survey needed to provide comparable data with respect to site classification while the surveys as a whole had to “produce a reasonably representative picture” of Italy (103). The 27 surveys to make the cut range from Valli Grani Veronesi and Polcevera Valley in the north to Roccagloriosa and Oria in the south, but Etruria, Latium, and Campania provide about half of the samples. Launaro gives a brief description of each survey, discusses how he converted its “dataset,” and notes the local settlement trend it suggests. A lengthy appendix (133 pages) lists all the data on which Launaro bases his analysis.

Part IV considers the implications of the aggregate survey data for Italian settlement trends and Roman demography (Chapter 6) as well as for the Italian economy more generally (Chapter 7). Launaro finds that “the total number of sites as derived from [his] pool of twenty-seven surveys point to rather general patterns of significant growth together with isolated patches of either stability or slight decline” (155). This leads to the conclusion that “the low-count interpretation has to be rejected as a whole because of its implications for the rural population, which do not correspond in any way to the picture which can be derived from fifty years of field research in landscape archaeology” (164). Though he prefers the high count, Launaro is quick to point out that his analysis does not allow one to choose between the middle and high counts; the variables, particularly the number of citizens in the provinces, are too uncertain.

Overall, this is a well produced and clearly argued book. In addition to offering a compelling new demographic argument, Launaro’s “revised narrative of Roman Italy,” tentatively outlined in the final chapter, will be of considerable interest to those who study Rome’s economic and agricultural history.

Roman Bath From Elaissua Sebaste

Hurriyet seems to be doing the rounds of digs lately … here’s another:

An ancient bath from the Roman period has been found during excavations at the ancient city of Elaissua Sebaste in the southern province of Mersin’s Erdemli town.

The 18th term excavations continue at the ancient city under Prof. Eugenia Eugini Schneider, the head of Rome’s Sapienza University Archaeology Department. Schneider said that the ruins of the Roman bath were very big and open to the public. Excavation teams are currently working on five different points in the area Prof. Emanuella Borgia, deputy head of the excavations said.

“The 1800-year-old Roman bath is the most striking find this year. The bath has three rooms and is about 50 square meters. We have focused on the Big Bath, Byzantine Church, Small bath, Old Lantern, Byzantine Palace and settlement area. We are working with a team of 25 archaeologists and 30 workers,” Borgia said.

She said that the area’s theater and agora would be illuminated in this year’s work and that the Byzantine Palace would be open to visitors. Excavations will end Oct. 19.

… can’t find that we’ve read anything from this dig before.

Latest From Zeugma

This one’s been lurking in my box for a couple weeks … I was hoping something with a bit more detail might pop up, but I guess not, so we’ll put it out there  … from Hurriyet:

The excavation of the ancient city of Zeugma, near the town of Nizip in Gaziantep Province, has uncovered some small remnants of sculpture.

The Zeugma site in general has had very rich season in 2012, the head of the excavation, Dr. Kutalmış Görkay of Ankara University, told Anatolia news agency. The excavation opened in June this year.
“Our main work has been at the Muzos House site, and we also conducted excavations at the Roman House and other areas. Work will continue at the same sites in future seasons. We also conducted research about the ramparts of the city of Zeugma, with visiting researchers from England and Germany,” Görkay said.

Most of this year’s work took place on a hill known as Belkıs Tepe. “We found some parts of cult-related sculptures on Belkıs Tepe. … Many remnants of sculptures were unearthed,” Görkay said.

The team also built walkways and did landscaping work to make the Zeugma site more inviting. This work was done with the help of the Culture and Tourism Ministry and Gaziantep Province’s Special Administration.

This season’s excavation work at Zeugma will continue until the end of August, Görkay said. Excavation work at the site began in 2005 under Dr. Görkay’s direction.

A small photo (not quite sure what this structure might be) accompanies the original article. In case you’re wondering, this is obviously the part of Zeugma that wasn’t flooded …

Plans for More Digs in Plovdiv

From the Sofia Globe:

Archaeologists working on digs at the Roman Forum and Odeon sites in Bulgaria’s second city of Plovdiv have unearthed a number of interesting finds from various periods and the city now wants to expand excavations at the Forum site.

The Forum site, near the current modern-era central Post Office, dates from the first to second centuries CE. Overall, it covers about 11 hectares, making it arguably the largest such Roman-era forum site in Bulgaria.

The Post Office dates to the 1970s, to the communist era when 19th and early 20th century buildings were razed to make way for it and other large-scale buildings adjoining it on a large square. Some archaeologists believe that any number of archaeological finds lie waiting to be discovered beneath the massive concrete of the Post Office.

Nearby is the Odeon site, dating from the second to fifth centuries, location of a Roman-era theatre, smaller in scale than Plovdiv’s well-known ancient theatre in the city’s Old Town.

Plovdiv mayor Ivan Totev wants to create a pedestrian link between the central square, the western side of the Forum and the Odeon site. Work on reconstructing the square is to start in 2013, including removing some buildings, among them the small tourist information centre next to the Post Office.

Totev said on August 23 that he was seeking permission from the Ministry of Culture to expand the excavations on the site north of the Post Office by a further 400 sq m.

On the Forum site, a construction inscription in ancient Greek was found in the dig in early August.

The head of the archaeological team on the site, Elena Kisyakova, was quoted by local media as saying that the inscription dates back to the times of Emperor Antoninus Pius, who governed in 138-161, and shows that the building was built in his honour. “It is, however, unclear who paid for the construction of the building, since only a small part of the inscription is preserved,” Kisyakova said.

Other finds at the site, which by late August had been excavated to a depth of 2.5m, included coins dating from, variously, the third century to as late as the reign of Sultan Murad, who ruled from 1359 to 1389.

Kisyakova said that the location of the Propylaea, the ancient arches that were the entrance to the Forum, had been established and it was expected that in time these would be fully exposed.

At the Post Office site, archaeologists also had found traces of medieval buildings from the 10th to 12th centuries, a significant find, according to Kisyakova who said that this was the least-known period ofPlovdiv’s history.

At the Odeon site, a marble eagle was found, estimated to date from the second to third century. Maya Martinova, head of the dig at the site, said that the eagle was of a type from the interiors of public buildings, and along with finds of marble columns and other items, was proof of the luxurious interiors of buildings in Phillipopolis, a prosperous city at the time.

The Odeon site has seen finds of more than 200 coins, tiles depicting theatrical masks and Roman pottery. The coins include some with the images, respectively, of the emperors Geta and Caracalla, minted in ancient Sofia and in ancient Plovdiv at the end of the second and beginning of the third centuries.

Other finds include nails, glassware, Roman cups and bowls, amphorae, a lead water pipe that was part of the Roman-era sewerage system, and drinking vessels used in religious rituals.

Mayor Totev, elected in 2011, is keen to highlight the city’s archaeological wealth – the city of which he has stewardship boasts of being older than Rome and is the 11th-largest on the Balkans – because Plovdiv is among Bulgarian cities in the running to be the European Capital of Culture in 2019. Among Totev’s election campaign promises was work on an underground archaeological museum in the city.

We mentioned the Greek inscription find (Greek Inscription From Plovdiv) … links to previous coverage about finds from Plovdiv can also be found there.