The former Rolling Stone was a friend of Tony Clunn, the amateur archaeologist and former British army who found the site of the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. On his website he remembers him. Read the article here.
Light relief for Friday. A nice bit of Arminius lunacy, if that is not too harsh a word, from The Roanoke Times. A retired soldier has had a cast iron, life size statue of Arminius put in his back garden:
After six years of duty on Memorial Avenue outside Black Dog Salvage in Roanoke, a cast iron equestrian statue has a new post at a private home along upper Craig Creek. Diane Caldwell had her eye on the statute of Arminius, a warrior who went into legend as Hermann the German for ambushing the Romans and winning the Battle of Teutoburg Forest in 9 A.D. She finally bought it as a gift for her husband, Curtis, in honor of the 48th anniversary of his service with the 7th Cavalry Regiment in the Vietnam War.
News just in. Tony Clunn, the former British army major and amateur archaeologist, who finally pinpointed where the Battle of Teutoburg Forest took place, has died at the age of 68. There will be a great deal in the (German) press over the next few days I suspect. Here is the obit from dpa:
Bramsche (dpa/lni) - Er hat den Anstoß zur archäologischen Forschung über die historische Varusschlacht in Kalkriese gegeben - der Hobby-Archäologe und britische Major Tony Clunn. Im Alter von 68 Jahren starb der Hobby-Forscher, wie der Landkreis Osnabrück am Donnerstag bekanntgab. «Das ist ein schwerer Schlag für uns», sagte der Geschäftsführer der Varusschlacht im Osnabrücker Land, Joseph Rottmann. Kalkriese bei Osnabrück war Schauplatz einer Schlacht zwischen Römern und Germanen - möglicherweise der legendären Varusschlacht im Jahr neun nach Christus. Der Ort geriet in den Blick der Wissenschaft, als Clunn bei seiner Suche im Sommer 1987 römische Münzen fand.
An interesting article in Thelocal.de frames support for Germany in the World Cup in terms of the Battle of Teutoburg Forest - the idea that Germany might win football because it has a history of seeing off the toughest of opponents:
Around the time of Christ’s birth, Germany was a land of warring tribal groups slowly being subsumed from the south and west by the Brazilian football team of the era, the Roman Empire.
Inexorably the Romans advanced, introducing their roads, their fancy under-floor heating and a spectacular series of defences known as the Limes Germanicus.
It seemed that the entire expanse of what we call Germany today would become yet another province of wine drinkers.
One of the most fascinating aspects of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest is the way that Arminius was co-opted as the poster boy for German nationalism. The Landesmuseum in Detmold had an exhibition last year called "Arminius, Thusnelda und die Schlacht im Teutoburger Wald". Pretty successful both artistically and financially, it has allowed the museum to buy a couple of new paintings.
Franz Schröder's "Schlacht im Teutoburger Wald" and Ludwig Fahrenkrog's "Germania es kommt dein Tag" are both worth a look. The latter especially, painted just after World War I is a fantastic example. Germany is in chains kneeling in front of a saint-like Arminius. It is deliberately reminiscent of saints being visited by a vision of Christ.
A thoughtful piece in the Irish Echo by Peter McDermott who complains about Mayor Bill de Blasio's attempts to rid Manhattan of horses and references the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. He also says some nice things about book:
The animals (including mules, whose presence was confirmed at the archeological site at Kalkiese) may seem incidental to the story of Rome’s humiliation in 9 AD, but they are a reminder that Western civilization was built thanks in great measure to horse power.
The image of the Native American warrior on horseback may be imprinted upon our consciousness, but it was the very lack of horses prior to the advent of the Europeans that can help explain why the indigenous peoples were so easily overcome. Anybody could have invented the wheel, but it was the use of the draft animal that made possible the huge leaps forward in technology in Europe.
Until just a few generations ago, horses moved the great cities of the world. They pulled barges, for instance, and later buses, and more recently made possible the mass delivery of milk to homes.
Now these remarkably adaptable creatures, having brought us this far, are expected to exit stage left from New York City history altogether and go live in some fantasy rural paddock.
If you go to Park Kalkriese in Germany, you can buy an Arminius beer, but as far as I know, this is the first time a US brewer has decided to make one. The August Schell Brewing company in New Ulm, home to the other Hermannsdenkmal, is about to bring one to market:
A radical departure from Schell’s signature lagers, Arminius is distinctly hoppy with a fruity, floral aroma. The beer does not, however, depart from Schell’s rare ability to marry tradition and innovation. Combining the hop profile of west-coast American IPA’s with traditional German brewing techniques, Arminius will be double dry hopped and brewed with over 2.5 pounds of hops per barrel.
A long interview with Joseph Rottmann, the head of the Varrusschlacht Musum in Osnabrück, in the Oznabrücker Zeitung.
Several highlights: 80,000 people visited the site last year, an increase of 5%. This despite a price increase. And 75% of visitors came from outside the region. The new visiting exhibition is going to be about pharohs and mummification, and the big annual exhibition is going to be about Germanicus. Little update on the archaeology since lead archaeologist Günther Moosbauer left in October to head up the Gäubodenmuseum in Bavaria.
He is understandably concerned about further state cuts to heritage budgets (I blogged about them in December 2012). He uses the vivid phrase: "Die Zitrone ist weitgehend ausgepresst, mehr Sparpotenzial gibt es quasi nicht" "The lemon is pretty much squeezed out. There really aren't any more potentials for savings."
The Spiegel had a good piece last week on testing Roman artillery. A large number of bolts have been found at both Teutoburg and the site of the battle on the Harzhorn. Scientists at the University of Trier have recreated and tested these light artillery pieces. The rate of fire is impressive/terrifying. They found a rate of fire of three to five bolts a minute.
But what I found particularly interesting was the impact of rain on the machines. Classical authors cite the weather as a major reason for the Roman defeat at the Battle of Teutoburg Forest. Certainly it had an effect on bows and shields, quite apart from any psychological damage, but testing suggests that the weather had little impact on the effectiveness of the artillery. So were the Romans exaggerating? It certainly gives pause for thought:
Momentan werden die Geschütze im Experiment getestet - immer unter strengsten Sicherheitsvorkehrungen. "So wissenschaftlich wurden diese Waffen noch nie untersucht. Wir wollen vor allem auch wissen, wie sich die unterschiedlichen Typen in ihrer Wirkung unterscheiden." Eines jedenfalls haben die Forscher ziemlich schnell herausfinden können. Der Hinweis auf den Regen war ein Vorwand: "Die funktionieren auch klitschnass noch einwandfrei!"
Full story here. The author's website is here. Thanks to MB for the hat tip.
A couple of fascinating bits of news from Germany in the past few days. First off in the Augsburger Allgemeine a great piece on Tunisian pottery found in fifth century Augsburg. It suggests that the collapse of communication and trade across the empire was not as complete as previously imagined.
Die edle Keramik aus Tunesien, die im gesamten Mittelmeerraum so gefragt war, erreichte noch bis Mitte des 5. Jahrhunderts Augsburg. Das heißt: Man erfuhr hier noch, was in Italien in war, der Kontakt war intakt. Es gab Transportrouten und Menschen, die sich römischen Luxus leisten konnten.