Archaeologists say they have confirmed that Julius Caesar stepped on what is now Dutch soil—and in the bloodiest of ways. They've uncovered the remnants of a battle fought in 55 BC in the southern part of the country, near Oss.
Dutch News frames the battle as a particularly cruel one: Two Germanic tribes, the Tencteri and Usipetes, reportedly came to Caesar seeking his protection. He not only denied their request, but ordered that they be massacred.
That this occurred has long been known, thanks in part of Caesar's own writings on the Gallic wars, De Bello Gallico. Indeed, a volume on Greece & Rome by K.
H. Lee published in 1969 recounts that the tribes were "ruthlessly destroyed almost to a man," a "deplorable" move considering the "massacre had been ordered in a time of declared truce." The where, however, had been unclear.
Over the last three decades, 20 swords, a single helmet, and the remains of more than 100 people have been unearthed at the location in question.
Now, based on historical and archaeological analysis and carbon dating, archaeologists at the Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam say they've confirmed that the bones and weapons hail from the right time period and represent the first proof of Caesar's presence on Dutch soil.
He apparently didn't stay long. National Geographic reports Caesar then built a bridge over the Rhine and made his way to England that same year, which was dubbed a successful one in the war by the Roman Senate.
(Caesar crumpled to the ground during the Battle of Thapsus in 46BC, and researchers have a new theory as to why.)
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