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Cremona battle evidences found
October 18th, 2005

Milan - Excavations in Cremona have confirmed the very famous description of the city's destruction in December 69 AD by the latin historian Tacitus.
Archaeologists working in the city's central area of Marconi square have found big evidences of the city's brutal pillage following a clash between the forces of Emperor Aulus Vitellius and Vespasian.
Tacitus's graphic description of the rampage by Vespasian's troops is famous among scholars but there was no way to prove it actually happened.

“Fourty thousands of armoured men break into the city, followed by much more of servants and slaves, wild and perverse people... While despising the visible richnesses, they prefer to torture the owners asking them where to find hidden treasuries. With fired torches, they have fun to throw them into the empty houses and in the robbed temples... (Tacitus, Historiae, III, 33)
But preliminary work on an underground car park allowed for more extensive excavations than ever before.
"The layer of ash left by fires and the butchered remains from the Roman age uncovered in various spots of the digs have confirmed both the city's destruction and its famed wealth," said the excavation's director Lynn Passi Pitcher.
"It has also given us a vital point of reference for dating other finds." As well as numerous everyday objects, archaeologists have unearthed frescos, mosaics and fragments of glass, all indicating a luxurious standard of living.
Piazza Marconi is not in the heart of Cremona but lies within the boundaries of the ancient city walls.

The excavations of Piazza Marconi 

The latest digs covered an area of around 2,000 square meters, down to a depth of 7.3 meters.
Tacitus's description appears in his Histories of the Roman Empire, which were written some 35 years after the sack of Cremona.
"Forty thousand armed men burst into Cremona, and with them a body of sutlers and camp-followers, yet more numerous and yet more abandoned to lust and cruelty," he wrote. "Neither age nor rank were any protection from indiscriminate slaughter and violation.
"Aged men and women past their prime, worthless as booty, were dragged about in wanton insult. Did a grown-up maiden or youth of marked beauty fall in their way, they were torn in pieces by the violent hands of ravishers; and in the end the destroyers themselves were provoked into mutual slaughter." He went on to describe the four- day rampage, discussing how the pillagers set fire to houses and temples after looting them.
"When all things else, sacred and profane, were settling down into the flames, the temple of Mephitis outside the walls alone remained standing, saved by its situation or by divine interposition.
"Such was the end of Cremona, 286 years after its foundation," he concluded.
The sack of Cremona occurred in the "Year of the Four Emperors", the period of civil war that followed Nero's forced suicide in 68 AD.
Aulus Vitellius, who succeeded Galba and Otha, was governor of Lower Germany when he was proclaimed emperor by his troops.
His rule lasted from April until December 69 AD, and although never acknowledged as emperor by the entire Roman world, he was accepted by the Senate.
However, Vitellius's fate was the same as Otha's, when the Danubian legions declared their support for Vespasian. Vitellius' own troops started deserting him and the clash in Cremona marked the end of his reign.


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