An iron mask, sheathed in bronze and silver and discovered in the Netherlands, was attached to a cavalry soldier’s helmet by a hinge and worn on parade—and perhaps into battle. www.robertclark.com
An iron mask, sheathed in bronze and silver and discovered in the Netherlands, was attached to a cavalry soldier’s helmet by a hinge and worn on parade—and perhaps into battle. www.robertclark.com
Valkhof Museum, Nijmegen, Netherlands; Photographed at Tullie House Museum and Art Gallery Trust, Carlisle, U.K.

Roman Frontiers

Rome’s border walls were the beginning of its end.

Bouncing along a dusty Bavarian logging road, archaeologist Claus-Michael Hüssen keeps his eyes on the tree line to the left, searching for some familiar landmark in the thick forest. Suddenly he pulls the van over and gets out, pausing to pack tobacco into his pipe and consult a 1:50,000-scale survey map.

Head down, pipe in hand, Hüssen—a researcher with the German Archaeological Institute—crosses the road and wades through the thick underbrush. Fifty yards from the road, he nearly misses a low dirt mound about three feet high and six feet across. Littered with flat white stones, it runs in an unnaturally straight line along the forest floor.

Nearly 2,000 years ago this was the line that divided the Roman Empire from the rest of the world. Here in Germany the low mound is all that’s left of a wall that once stood some ten feet tall, running hundreds of miles under the wary eyes of Roman soldiers in watchtowers.

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