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On trail of Julius Caesar’s lies

This post is also available in: Polish (polski)

Julius Caesar
Julius Caesar

Excavation work in 2015 revealed that Julius Caesar was a consummate propagandist of his own cause.

In the first chapters of his memoirs On the Gallic War, Caesar tells how he defeated the Helvetians, a powerful Celtic people based in what is now central Switzerland. The Helvetians allegedly decided to settle in Gaul. They burned their settlements and went on their way. Brave Caesar boasts of his defence of the Gauls. He defeated the Helvetians at Bibracte (58 BCE). Out of 368 thous. men, women and children allegedly only 110 thousand. returned home.

However, military historians have calculated that the march of 368,000 people, 8,500 ox-carts and numerous herds of cattle would be 130 km long – from military and also a logistical point of view, such a trip would be unbelievable. As for the burning of the settlements, archaeologists in only one Helvetian settlement, Mount Vully, found traces of the fire. The remaining settlement centres throughout the 1st century BCE prospered brilliantly. Thomas Whitley of the University of Western Australia runs a complex simulation using the Geographic Information System (GIS) to find out how many people lived in Helvetia during the time of Julius Caesar.

For this purpose, he created 50 computer models. She explains: “I take into account three figures: how much food the inhabitants had at their disposal, with what effort and resources they obtained it, what were the costs of transport.” The scientist considered various sources of food: cattle, sheep, goats, pigs, chickens, grains, fruits and vegetables, beer, cheese and nuts, as well as a wild game – roe deer, deer, wild boar, aurochs – and fish. Whitley intends to show that the Helvetian territory could not have fed the masses Caesar wrote about. More and more historians are of the opinion that the Helvetians made a plundering expedition to Gaul and had no intention of settling in this land. The rest was invented by the Roman commander for his greater glory.

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