Archaeologists have identified a site Caesar wrote about in his diaries in 55 B.C., according to The Guardian. For many decades archaeologists and scholars have been reading Caesar’s account of the Gallic wars and wondering where one particularly bloody massacre might have occurred.
“Caesar in his war reports without any shame gives detailed descriptions of the use of mass violence against Gallic and Germanic peoples who resisted the Roman conquest.”
Caesar wrote about the battle in his account of the Gallic wars but apparently did not give enough geographic detail, or landscape observation, to allow historians to identify where he slaughtered all those Gallic and Germanic tribesmen.
Now, thanks to carbon dating, the the exact location has been identified. The site is in Kessel, Holland, part of the southern province of Brabant.
The discovery is especially exciting because it is our first proof that Caesar stepped on Dutch soil, according to Newser.
Caesar stated in his war reports that he wiped out the tribes in their entirety. This would mean that more than 400,000 were killed. However, analysts believe Caesar likely inflated the numbers and the death toll was likely in the range of 150,000 to 200,000.
“I sent the cavalry behind to them.
“The Germans heard screams behind him, and when they saw that their wives and children were slain, they threw down their weapons and ran headlong away from the camp.
“When they had come to the point where the Meuse and Rhine rivers flow together, they saw no good in further flights.
“A large number of them were slain, and the rest fell into the river, where they died overwhelmed by anxiety, fatigue and strength of the current.” — Caesar, De Bello Gallico Book 4, 14-15
The two tribes, the Tencteri and the Usipetes, were from an area east of the Rhine. The university reported that the tribes had asked Caesar for asylum. Not only did the Roman emperor refuse, he ordered a bloody massacre using his eight legions and cavalry to destroy them.
Skeletons, spearheads, swords and a helmet have been discovered at the site over the past three decades, according to the Daily Mail. It was just this week that the site was identified as the site of Caesar’s massacre.
‘It is the first time the presence of Caesar and his troops on Dutch soil has been explicitly shown.’
The cruelty of Caesar in carrying out the massacre at a moment of truce would be condemned in our time, according to Forex.
“Today we qualify such action as genocide.”
Dutch News also reported on the battle, detailing that it was a particularly cruel one. Scholars noted that contemporaries of Caesar were appalled by his actions.
Historian K. H. Lee observed in 1969 that the tribes were “ruthlessly destroyed almost to a man.” It was a “deplorable” move considering the “massacre had been ordered in a time of declared truce.”
Caesar was the rumored lover of Cleopatra, the last active pharaoh of Ptolemaic Egypt, who remains a source of fascination in Western culture. William Shakespeare and George Bernard Shaw both produced dramatizations of the queen’s life, and the romance between Cleopatra and Caesar was the subject of a 1963 film.
Following the recent battleground discovery, The Guardian confused and amused many when it used an image of a bust of Augustus rather than Caesar in its report. The newspaper reports that the error has now been corrected.
[Photo by Hulton Archive/Getty Images]