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The Conflict Landscape

A New Approach to Research

To be able to trace the battle action in Kalkriese more precisely, we need detailed information about the general conditions of the cultivated landscape in which the Romans found themselves. Since the Roman troops ventured to Germania on a military campaign outside their conquered territories, they had to rely on local infrastructure. Therefore it is important to examine the locations of Germanic settlements, the approximate size of adjacent lands that were used agriculturally, settlement density, as well as possible travel routes. A recent project funded by the DFG (German Research Foundation) and conducted between 2011 and 2013 served to explore Germanic settlement structures dating to the period around Christ’s birth and helped to add a new perspective to the investigation of the Kalkriese battlefield as part of an extensive »Conflict Landscape.«

Germanic settlements dating to the period around Christ’s birth had been discovered as early as in the 1990s during excavations outside the Oberesch. The same sites also contained Roman coins and military equipment, which raised the question if these Roman artifacts could be spoils of war from the battlefield, which had been collected and partially reworked by Germanic locals. Since 2011, several excavations (in Venne-Vorwalde and near the Dröge farm in Kalkriese, as well as on the edge of the moor) were conducted. They provided new results, among others primarily regarding the shape of longhouses at the time around Christ’s birth, regarding local ceramics, but also regarding the origin of military items. It also became clear that no settlement existed at the time of the battle near the road alongside the southern edge of the moor where drift sand had built up. It is also rather unlikely that Romans marched through this area – they probably moved through the settled area on the slope of the Kalkriese Hill, were the Germanic tribes had built trails that connected settlements and farmland.

The continuation of the excavations on the Oberesch and in other places could lead to further findings, because in spite of more than 25 years of investigations, we are only still at the beginning of the Kalkriese research project – a project that for the first time in modern archaeology gives us the opportunity to examine an antique battlefield with the latest research methods.