ARCHAEOLOGISTS in Germany have described a Roman weapons dump discovered near the city of Göttingen as a "sensational find" that is yielding valuable military artefacts.
Excavations on the site have just started, but more than 250 metal objects, most of them weapons or tools used by Roman legionnaires in 10BC, have been found. They include several rare examples of a soldier’s axe, an all-purpose Swiss army knife of its day.
"We are particularly pleased with these: they are a rare find because they were usually so prized by the legionnaires that they rarely left their sides," said the chief archaeologist, Klaus Grote. "It is a sensational find for research purposes."
The site served as an ordnance depot for Roman troops fighting Germanic tribes farther north.
Also brought up from metres of clay and bog is a rare example of a pilum, the favoured javelin-type spear of the legionnaires, deployed when close combat with their swords was not possible. Other items include catapult balls, lances, axe heads and knives.
Experts believe the depot was one of many the Romans built in Germany, then a wild area inhabited by tribes not keen on bowing to the empire.
It was discovered in a wood near Gttingen in 1985 by metal-detecting hobbyists.
Local authorities sealed it off when its importance was fully realised.
Although looters might have taken some objects the archaeologists are hopeful the depot still has much more to offer up.
The Romans gave up trying to pacify Germania around 70BC.
Mr Grote added: "They headed home and built their walls higher at home."