Silver Roman dagger is restored to its former glory with nine months of restoration

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2000-year-old Roman soldier’s silver dagger is restored to its incredible pristine glory after teenage work experience archaeologist unearthed it in Germany

  • Nico Calman, 19, dug up the fascinating weapon at a burial ground in Haltern
  • Silver handles decorated with ornate foliage patterns survived 2,000 years
  • Dagger is believed to have been used by a legionary fighting a Germanic tribe

By Sophie Law For Mailonline

Published: 02:11 GMT, 18 February 2020 | Updated: 14:39 GMT, 18 February 2020

An elaborate silver Roman dagger has been painstakingly restored to its original glory after it was unearthed by a teenager on work experience in Germany.

Nico Calman, 19, found the fascinating weapon – believed to be the most remarkable artefact of its kind to have been discovered – at a burial ground in Haltern am See, near Münster. 

It is so well preserved that red enamel and glass, as well as silver and brass handles decorated with ornate patterns of foliage and leaves survived for 2,000 years.

The dagger is believed to have been used by a legionary fighting a Germanic tribe in the 1st century, according to The Times

An elaborate silver Roman dagger has been painstakingly restored to its original glory after it was unearthed by a teenager on work experience in Germany

When the weapon was pulled from the ground, it was completely encased in rust before being restored over the span of nine months to reveal its previous state. 

It measures as long as a forearm and even features ‘blood channels’ on the blade – grooves said to reduce suction when it is removed from flesh.

Unearthed along with the fascinating decorated dagger were bronze and brass plates, the remnants of a leather belt and a lime-wood sheath and flaxen twine.       

The ornate dagger is set to be displayed in Haltern’s Roman history museum in 2022.

When the weapon was dug from the ground, it was completely encased in rust before being restored over the span of nine months to reveal its previous state

Nico Calman (pictured), 19, dug up the fascinating weapon – believed to be the most remarkable artefact of its kind to have been discovered – at a burial ground in Haltern am See, near Münster

Michael Rind, director of archaeology at the local Westphalia-Lippe council, told The Times: ‘This combination of a completely preserved blade, sheath and belt, together with the important information about precisely where they were found, is without parallel.’ 

Roman soldiers are said to have carried ornate daggers as a sign of prestige – and  Haltern was a large military camp established by troops, according to local media.

Despite archaeological excavations taking place in the Germany district for 200 years, this discovery is bound to shed new light into Roman activities east of the Rhine. 

It was thought that the camp had been abandoned following a severe defeat as up to 20,000 men were wiped out.

In the 1990s, a new burial ground not far from the site of the battle was discovered – with several graves were discovered, including 25 skeletons in a pottery furnace.   

HISTORY OF ROMANS IN GERMANY 

Romans had a difficult history with Germany, and was repeatedly dragged into battled with the tribes from Germania. 

The Roman Empire stretched from Italy westwards through Iberia and into Britain and Eastwards into modern-day Syria and Turkey. 

However, for the most of the duration of the Empire, Germany was not conquered or ruled, maintaining relative independence. 

Attempts to bring Germania to heel were originally attempted in the first century AD by Julius Ceasar. 

Repeated excursions to the Germanic region were met with resistance from the various tribes.

It was not a singular coherent nation, as is seen today, but was instead ruled by scattered Teutonic tribes throughout the vast wilderness. 

Romans knew little of this densely forested territory governed by fiercely independent chieftains. 

Between 6BC and 4 BC, Roman legions eventually established a chain of bases on the Lippe and Weser rivers.

This tentative alliance was uneasy and discontent soon grew.  

A famed ambush from the Germanic tribes, led by a 25-year-old called Arminius is inscribed into history. 

He spoke Latin and was familiar with Roman tactics.  

In September of the year 9AD, he met the imperial Roman legate Publius Quinctilius Varus in battle. 

the ambitoius young man conducted an ambush to establish himself and expell the Romans. 

In his role working for the Romans, he was granted citizenship and the honour of knight for his valour, he reported a fictitious ‘uprising’ in an area unfamiliar to the Romans.

He then lead them into a deadly trap. 

Over three days more than 15,000 Romans were slaughtered and the leaders fell on their swords.

Romans abandoned their bases in the region following the crushing defeat and rarely returned to Germania.     

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