Thursday, June 14, 2012

Disappointment at Museum und Park Kalkriese

I have been fortunate enough to spend the last four days in Detmold and Kalkriese filming a documentary about the Battle of Teutoburg Forest, the defeat in AD9 of the Roman general Varus by the Germanic leader Arminius and the annihilation of three legions – XVII, XVIII and XIX – around 10% of the Roman army. It was arguably Rome's greatest defeat.

More about the documentary when it comes out – it is slated for early next year – but a couple of days at the Museum und Park Kalkriese confirmed the thoughts I had had when researching Rome's Greatest Defeat. That it is a deeply flawed museum. It makes little use of the space it has, is badly laid out and doesn't remotely show the exhibits it has in their best light. In fact it makes little sense unless you know both the battle and the history of its discovery well.

Just a few initial comments. The sling shots that British amateur archaeologist Tony Clunn found, that alerted him to the fact that part of the battle between Arminius and Varus might have taken place here, are shown in the second room, indeed they have their own case. But there is little explanation why they are so significant. To most people they look like three pebbles in a glass case.