Sunday, May 1, 2011

Iron Age Girl Had to Die by the Roman Sword

Legio II AugustaImage via Wikipedia
Beginning in 55 B.C., restive Iron Age Britain was toyed with by list of famous Romans, including Caesar, Augustus and Caligula. But around 43 A.D., nearly 2,000 years ago, Emporer Claudius readied his Roman Legions to mount a large invasion and a permanent occupation of the restive region. Led by the crack Legio II Augusta, commanded by the future emperor Vespasian, some 40,000 troops and auxilaries began a nearly continuous brutal campaign of conquest lasting decades.

Much of this is of course so much dry history. But this weekend the BBC reports that archaeologists in north Kent, UK, have discovered the 2,000 year old grave of a young woman, thought to be 16 to 20 years old. She had been most likely wounded in the head while kneeling, mostly likely executed by Roman soldiers.

This discovery, the intact skeleton, the obvious visual evidence of violent trauma to the skull, most definitely brings to life that long ago invasion and occupation. Was she a spy, a picket, a bushwhacker, or simply innocent and in the wrong place at the wrong time? What was her name? Did she cry as they killed her or did she face her captors with stoicism?

Invasions and occupations are disruptive, violent, degrading and life changing. The Romans were ruthless and did their best to wipe out native tribes that continued to resist. Vigilance was a way of life for the occupiers, as the native population was ready to erupt at any time. Perhaps the best visual that illustrates the tension of the occupier versus the subjugated is the Vallum Aelium, known to most as Hadrian's Wall, the defensive fortification in northern England used to keep the dangerous nothern tribes at a safe distance.

Just as the unnamed young woman gave her life in some kind of hostilities involving the invading Romans, the Amazon novel Gettysburg Passage has, deep in its narrative, a thread that involves a lost civilization that is also being overrun, occupied, and in danger of annihilation by the boot of an invading army.

The Romans felt they were on the side of civilization and progress and were opposed by the forces of tribal barbarism. An academic argument could be made either way. But in Gettysburg Passage, there can be no doubt that a superior civilization is in danger of being wiped out by an invading army of savages.

Ironically, a group of friends living in contemporary Washington, D.C. find an ancient artifact that potentially lures them into the conflict. As they explore the possible history of the ancient mace, history comes alive -- in startling ways! To read book reviews or to sample a free chapter, go to Amazon today! Gettysburg Passage, just $2.99!
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