Rijksuniversiteit Groningen / Palaeohistoria
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Een vroeg-Romeins ruitergraf uit Zuidoost-Drenthe

(2005) Sanden, W.A.B. van der

This article discusses a find assemblage that has been in the Drents Museum’s collection since
December 1933. The finder, Arent Middelveld, had earlier that year offered the assemblage to the Rijksmuseum
van Oudheden (National Museum of Antiquities) in Leiden, but that museum was not interested in it on account of
its fragmentary state. Middelveld was a real treasure-hunter who was only interested in how much his finds would
fetch him. There is however no reason whatsoever to doubt the reliability of the find’s source, which is reported to
have been ‘Barger-Oosterveld’. Unfortunately, this is a vague description as this is a large area to the south, east
and southeast of the town of Emmen.
The finds recorded under number 1933/XII 1 do not all belong together. The part of a bronze axe and the earthenware
(cat. Nos 1-2) date from the period from the Middle Bronze Age up to and including the Early Iron Age and
are much older than the other finds, which are datable to the early Roman period (cat. Nos 3-19). How the oldest
three objects came to form part of this assemblage is not clear (perhaps because they were found in roughly the
same area, or due to an administrative error). The most important elements of the Early Roman-period part of the
assemblage are fragments of an Arretine sigilllata plate Ha 1/Ic, an Aucissa brooch, two brooches of the Almgren
19 type, part of a helmet?, rivets or split pins of a belt hook decorated with red enamel, harness fittings, several
fragments of a rectangular mirror and glass segmented beads. All that is known about the finds’ context is that the
objects were found on ploughed land. No other finds from the same period (nor incidentally from later phases of the
Roman period) are reported as having been found at ‘Barger-Oosterveld’. Exactly where in ‘Barger-Oosterveld’ the
objects were found can no longer be determined.
The finds probably represent the contents of one or more burials (at least one male burial and possibly – considering
the presence of a mirror and beads – also a female burial). It is not known whether the finder observed any
cremated remains. The military objects may well have belonged to a cavalryman who served in one of the auxiliary
troops in the Augustan or early Tiberian era. But in which campaign(s) and in which unit (Ampsivarii?) he may have
participated in the Germanic Wars we don’t know. In a northern Dutch/northern German perspective this is a highly
exceptional find, because we don’t know of any such burials in this region.


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