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Prof. Dr. Walter Wimmel (1922-2016)
The German classicist Walter Wimmel has died, aged 93. He was Professor of Classical Philology at the University of Marburg from 1963 until 1987.

Wimmel's name would not normally be associated with the Roman army, except for his authorship of one particular groundbreaking (imho) publication: a 52-page pamphlet, entitled Die technische Seite von Caesars Unternehmen gegen Avaricum (Mainz, 1974). Dietwulf Baatz, who had reviewed the book for the journal Gnomon in 1976, recommended it to me when I embarked on a study of Roman siege warfare back in the 1980s.

Although well-known to French and German researchers of the day, it had made no impact whatsoever on the Anglophone world. Until that time, students of Roman siege warfare assumed that Caesar's siege embankment at Avaricum took the elaborate form suggested by Napoléon III's collaborator, General de Reffye, in 1866. It was this design that Peter Connolly adopted in his 1975 book, The Roman Army, in a typically mesmerizing painting. However, although the general design had been criticized, from a practical standpoint, as early as 1939, by Comte Robert du Mesnil du Buisson (who had worked on the excavation of the Persian siege embankment at Dura Europos), Wimmel's contribution was a philological one, based on the study of Caesar's terminology. He also ensured that the topic of Roman siege embankments remained on the table (although it took nearly 30 years for it to feature again in an English-language book about siege warfare.)
posted by Duncan B Campbell

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