The artifacts discovered at Hachelbich; boot nails and other objects. Credit: State Office of Historic Monuments and Archaeology, Weimar (TLDA)

The Roman Empire appears to have expanded further north and east than previously thought. This is the conclusion after the discovery of a Roman military camp in Eastern Germany.

The camp was found near the town Hachelbich in eastern Germany, east of the river Rhine. The site was discovered in 2010 already but has since then been excavated and the findings have now been published.


The study details several found artifacts, such as spikes and buckles. The camp was built as a rough rectangle with round corners. The archaeologists have uncovered a number of carefully dug ditches with associated dikes, typical of Roman military camps.

The camp was very large at around 18 hectares (180,000 square meters) and was probably housing one legion, around 5,000 soldiers.

Thuringia state archaeologist Mario Kuessner and his team who has been excavating the site told Science magazine; “The best would be if we could find coins or something with the legion number written on it,”, “That would help us pin down the date.”

Credit: State Office of Historic Monuments and Archaeology, Weimar (TLDA)

The discovery is regarded as significant since it has been generally regarded that the Romans never attempted to conquer Germanic territories east of the river Rhine.

Especially not after the catastrophic roman loss at the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest in 9 CE. When Germanic tribes ambushed and wiped out three entire Roman legions.

According to some written sources, however, the Romans would occasionally campaign in Germany, possibly in retaliation for German raids on Roman territory.

Roman trenches dug. Credit: State Office of Historic Monuments and Archaeology, Weimar (TLDA)

The exact whereabouts of the camp is being kept secret, to prevent metal detector hobbyists from trying to disturb or loot the site. But the archaeological team will continue with the excavations and hopefully, they will find some more artifacts and perhaps some Roman coins specifically.


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Römische Truppen in Thüringen