Archaeologists Unearth 2000-Year-Old Military Temples

Jax Hudur

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Temple groundsBeeld: © RAAP

From discovering baffling mass frog burials near Cambridge in England to unearthing hundreds of Egyptian mummies in the Saqqara necropolis, 2022 has been the year that keeps giving for archaeologists.

Recently, researchers from the RAAP Archaeological consultancy have found what they believe are the ruins of 2000-year-old Roman temples in the Netherlands.

The unprecedented discovery will mark the first time a Roman temple for Rome’s military is found in the country as the archaeologists suspect the temples were used by Roman soldiers, including high-ranking Roman officers, to offer prayers and sacrifices.

The finding was made in the Dutch village of Herwen-Hemeling, located in the province of Gelderland, near the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Limes, a Roman frontier stretched 400 km from the Rhenish Massif in Germany to the Netherlands North Sea coast.

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A Roman altar unearthed from the siteBeeld: © RAAP

The Roman Limes are ancient Roman military outposts strategically placed in fortifications to protect the Roman military from surprise attacks by the Germanic tribes that Rome was at war with.

The Roman temples have researchers excited. For one, the temple complex is the most complete of its kind ever to be found in the country. It includes a temple building, a stone wall with distinct military engravings, and fire pits that soldiers used to offer sacrifices to the deities they worshipped. In addition, military paraphernalia, such as armor, spear tips, lances, and horse harnesses, were also found at the site.

Researchers are also hopeful of making more discoveries as they continue to dig. Netherland’s Heritage Agency speaking on the fascinating discovery, said,

“High-ranking Roman officers erected dozens of votive stones to give thanks to a god or goddess for fulfilling their wishes. These did not always relate to winning battles. Simply surviving a stay in these northern regions, sometimes far from home, was often reason enough to give thanks.”

A video of the site from the Netherlands Heritage Agency

Though the Roman army has uprooted all resistance due to the devastating Gallic wars that ended with the total defeat of the warring Germanic tribes, the first-century temples now found in the Netherlands will provide an invaluable insight into Rome’s fighting military men.

The temples would also mean that the small country of Netherlands played a critical role in ancient Rome’s European military expansion. Today, the Netherlands, besides its small size, plays a massive role in world politics as the country is a founding member of the EU, NATO, and WTO, as well as being the seat of the International Criminal Court.

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