II Adiutrix’ base in Nijmegen found

16 February 2011

Detail of the Peutinger Map: Noviomagus

In 19 BC, the Romans founded a legionary base on the Hunerberg, east of Batavodorum (modern Nijmegen, Netherlands), the capital of the Batavians. Even when the legions were transferred and the soldiers’ expenditure disappeared as a source of income, this civil settlement continued to flourish.

As is well known, the Batavians revolted during the Year of the Four Emperors. Tacitus writes that when the Roman general Cerialis arrived to restore order in 70, the rebels set fire to Batavodurum (Histories 5.19). The Roman historian also says that the site was occupied by the Second Legion Adiutrix (5.20). Archaeologists had already established that the civil settlement, Noviomagus, was rebuilt a bit more to the west.

Recently, Dutch archaeologist Harry van Enckevort has identified the remains of a praetorium and a ditch of a hitherto unknown fortress. The absence of objects from the Flavian period suggests that it was built immediately after the revolt had been suppressed, which can only mean that its inhabitants were soldiers of II Adiutrix. Built on the ash layer of Batavodurum, the fortress controlled a new civil settlement.

The stone foundations of the praetorium prove that II Adiutrix was supposed to stay in Nijmegen. Eventually, however, it followed Cerialis to Britain and was replaced by X Gemina, which reoccupied the Hunerberg.

[Also published in Ancient Warfare; thanks to Harry van Enckevort]

Marcus Caelius Exposition

13 June 2009
Reconstruction of the Marcus Caelius Cenotaph

Reconstruction of the Marcus Caelius Cenotaph

The museum of Xanten has recently been reopened, and there’s a nice exposition on Marcus Caelius, called “Marcus Caelius – Tod in der Varusschlacht”. According to the inscription of his famous cenotaph, this centurio of the Eighteenth Legion was killed in action during the Battle in the Teutoburg Forest.

The exposition tries to evoke the man’s life. For example, you will find information on Roman Bologna, the place where he was born, but also on his activities as a soldier. In short, the exposition informs you about “arms and the man”. I liked it very much, especially the drawings from the seventeenth century, which illustrate how later generations have used this monument, which was discovered in 1620 and is one of the first and finest examples of Roman sculpture made north of the Alps.

The exposition lasts until 30 August, and will be in Bonn’s Rheinisches Landesmuseum from 24 September 2009 to 24 January 2010.

The Roman Bridge at Cendere

20 December 2008

The bridge from the southwest.

The Roman bridge at Cendere, built by the Sixteenth legion Flavia Firma, is a remarkable monument. It is 118 meters long and was part of the road along the Upper Euphrates that had once been Rome’s eastern frontier, but had become a normal province after Septimius Severus‘ eastern conquests. The bridge has been in use for about eighteen centuries, and it was only very recently that a modern bridge was built next to it. Most tourists will pass along Cendere on their road to Nemrud dagi. I used to have a small page dedicated to this monument, but added twelve photos, available here.