The Valkhof Museum in Nijmegen, the capital of the ancient Batavians, is one of the most important archaeological museums in the Netherlands. It has a splendid collection with finds from six Roman settlements:
- the Kopse Hof (once the HQs of Drusus, later used as fort by a unit of mounted auxiliaries);
- the Hunerberg (a legionary base, used by Drusus);
- Batavodurum (a town destroyed during the Batavian Revolt in 69-70);
- Ulpia Noviomagus (built after the revolt);
- the Hunerberg (again in use as legionary base, by X Gemina, to control the Batavians);
- the late-Roman castle at the Valkhof, almost at the site of former Batavodurum.
Many objects tell a little story. I select the silver medallion that once belonged to one Gnaeus Aquillius Proculus, centurio of the Eighth legion Augusta, found at the Kopse Hof auxiliary fort. This man is known to have played a role during the Batavian Revolt. When the forts along the lower Rhine were attacked, he was able to bring the garrisons to Nijmegen, where they were – for the time being – safe.
This would have been interesting enough: it is not often that archaeologists find an object that belonged to someone we know from the written sources. However, the object proves something else: that shortly before the revolt, the Romans sent soldiers of the Eighth legion Augusta, which was at that moment stationed at Sishtov in Bulgaria, to Nijmegen. This strongly suggests that the Romans were aware that the Batavians were becoming restless, which proves that the governor, Hordeonius Flaccus, was more capable than the historian Tacitus wants us to believe. He presents us with a Roman commander who is incompetent, indolent, and decadent, but archaeology proves otherwise.