Spatial, Military and Economic aspects of Roman Defence on the Upper Moesian Limes
Vujadin Ivanišević, Ivan Bugarski
The authors discuss the complex system of defence of the Roman frontier that included, apart the fortification systems, the spatial, military and economic organization.
The defence system integrated the fortresses on the right bank of the Danube, as well as a large zone extending far beyond the riverbanks in both Barbaricum and the Empire. The outer Roman limites are analyzed through the role of the forts on the left bank and especially the ditches in the context of the defence of large territories in the Barbaricum.
The military and economic aspects are investigated following the distribution of fortresses, communications and particularly the organization of the system of the supply of the army.
Late Roman annex in Novae (Moesia inferior)
At Novae, before the defensive walls surrounded the discussed place, the area of the annex was the eastern part of the canabae. The eastern enclosure’s fortifications were in their major part excavated by the Bulgarian archaeologists in the 1960’s, but the internal part of the annex was not excavated until 2016.
The question concerning the extramural settlement and its development into a very interesting phenomenon of the so-called ‘annexes’, ‘enclosures’ or ‘extensions’ is particularly present in Lower Danubian provinces of the Roman Empire. The areas which usually were parts of town’s suburbs (suburbia) or civil settlements near legionary bases (canabae), in Late Antiquity were surrounded by defensive walls and included into the main part of the fortress.
At Novae, the southern part of the annex is placed on an elevated area which in some places overlooks the retentura dextra. This specific position and closeness to the deep valley of the small river flowing here into the Danube, could have been of particular importance. Another important question is to find out whether the phenomenon of merging military bases and civilian settlements into one, Late Roman fortress was preceded by building the walls of ‘annexes’ or was the result of it. In case of Novae we are dealing with the entirely new layout of the internal buildings erected at the beginning of the 4th century; the civilian large portico villa was built at the place of the ruined military hospital, while the legionary baths were superstructed by the bishopric residence. At the same time, we know that Novae had its military garrison composed of some cohorts of the First Italic Legion at least until the 430’s.
Demilitarizing the Southeast Frontier at the End of Antiquity
While there seems little doubt that there was a major political militarization of the empire’s southeast frontier in the third and fourth centuries, evidenced by the creation and/or refurbishment of forts and fortifications in Egypt, Israel/Palestine, and Jordan, many would argue that the opposite happened in the sixth century. What is less clear is whether this led to widespread militarization in the region. To that end, in this presentation, by drawing on the relatively abundant epigraphic (decrees of Anastasius), legal (Theodosianand Justinianic Codes), literary (Procopius, Pseudo-Joshua the Stylite), papyrological (Aphrodito, Petra, Nessana), and physical evidence (el-Lejjun) I will investigate the degree to which the civilians in the southeast borderlands were militarized at the end of antiquity, for my purposes between AD 450 and 600. In doing so, I will offer a working prosopography of those civilians, family members and otherwise, directly connected to the military in some capacity or the other in the southeast (Egypt, Israel/Palestine, Jordan), with an especial emphasis on Aphrodito, Elephantine and Syene, and Nessana, sites well-documented in the papyri. Additionally, I will addressthe degree to which those civilians were militarized, by examining their societal and economic militarization, in the case of the former with respect to their incorporation into military duties, and the latter their involvement in the resource mobilization tied to those frontier garrisons.
L’évolution du système défensif du Bas-Danube au IVe siècle et la ‘grande stratégie’ de l’Empire romain tardif
L’apparition, dans les sources romaines du IVe siècle, d’une nouvelle division entre unités comitatenses et limitaneae, réparties entre commandements régionaux et ducaux, est souvent considérée comme le signe d’une évolution des conceptions stratégiques romaines à l’époque tardive. L’Empire auraient adopté un système de défense en profondeur, reposant sur une combinaison d’éléments fixes et mobiles : les troupes frontalières occupaient des garnisons fortifiées qui agissaient comme une menace sur les arrières des envahisseurs en cas d’attaque ; les villes situées plus en retrait de la zone d’affrontement servaient de base logistique au regroupement de grandes armées d’interventions, qui n’entraient en action que lorsque l’ennemi, privé de ravitaillement, était dispersé et durement éprouvé par les coups de main répétés des troupes locales. Notre contribution propose de questionner ces changements, réels ou fictifs, en étudiant l’exemple du limes bas-danubien, de la rivière Tsibritsa (Cebrus) à la Mer Noire. Le secteur allant d’Oescus à l’embouchure du fleuve jouit d’une couverture documentaire continue, du IIe au IVe siècle, grâce à la multitude d’inscriptions, de diplômes, d’estampilles sur tuiles qui y ont été découverts, sans compter les informations fournies par la Notitiadignitatum pour le Bas-Empire et les travaux archéologiques qui se sont multipliés ces dernières décennies. Le premier volet de notre étude consiste en une analyse de l’évolution des effectifs et du déploiement des unités stationnées aux frontières, entre le règne d’Hadrien (117-138) et la seconde moitié du IVe siècle. Cette enquête préliminaire permet de nuancer l’idée d’une densification du réseau défensif à l’époque tardive, tout en insistant sur les possibilités nouvelles offertes par l’architecture militaire « tétrarchique » et le déploiement des unités comitatenses dans les grandes villes provinciales. Le second volet de notre communication propose de mettre en perspective ces changements à travers l’analyse de la première guerre de Valens contre les Goths (366-369 p.C.), racontée par Ammien Marcellin et Zosime.
Early Byzantine Horizon in the Fortification of Pontes – Trajan’s Bridge
The protective research of the fortification Pontes near Kladovo in Eastern Serbia, caused by the construction of hydro-energetic plant Đerdap II on Lower Danube, in Prahovo estimated the stratgraphy of culural layers at this site from the end of the 1st to the late 11th century. The final antique horizon inside the fort is dated in the 6th century. Although it was impossible to detect the reconstruction of ramparts and towers of fortification, as well as the buildings inside it, an abundance of portable finds of all kind, dated in the 6th century, was ascertained. The most of these finds derived from the numerous large grain pits transformed into waste pits. The absence of the 6th century cultural layers and solid buildings at Pontes is partly caused by diging in the two horizons of medieval houses and pits, but also could have some other reasons. This raises a question about the function of fortification of Pontes (Transdrobeta) after Justinian’s reconstruction of Limes. Based on portable finds and traces of light-material objects, different aspects of the 6th century Pontes will be investigated. We believe that it is not possible to give the final answer without archaeological research of the fortification’s surrounding and necropolises.
From the imperial court to the field, Пυργοκάστελλον – Pyrgocastellum. A architectural innovation imagined in Constantinople and implemented by Justinian’s men on the border
English or French, choose as you want.There is only one instance of the term Пυργοκάστελλον -Pyrgocastellum in the antique and late antique literature. In his book Περί κτισμάτων – De Aedificiis, Procopius uses the word to describe the walled enclosure towers of Constantia, Viransehir (Turkey), one of the main roman fortifications defending the Nord Mesopotamian plain. The description of the work suggests the addition of a third floor, and the building of covered approaches (ανοδοι). As a result, the towers become a defensive scale model permitting to watch over the whole interior of the fortification and to keep the control of the circulations with and to the wall walks. Unfortunately, the Constantia fortification remains aren’t well known, and the modern city left no visible traces. Luckily, other parts of Procopius’s text, cover more or less detailed descriptions of transformations operated on former towers, or new ones that could get close to the term pyrgocastellum. We can find similarities in the transformations reported by Procopius about Justinian’s transformations on the wall of Thrace (Περί κτισμάτων, IV, ix, 10s) and in the ones associated to the reconstruction of Dara, on the Oriental frontier (Περί κτισμάτων, II, i, 17s). The archeological researches provide additional elements to the hypothesis, including a series of sites bringing forward evidence of similar fortified towers. Their dates can be ranged to Justinian’s reign, by cross-checking Procopius’s texts and inscriptions found in situ, presenting obvious architectural similarities. The main part is dispatched all along the Euphrates river, but we can also find examples on northern sites like Kale i Zerzevan and Dara around Tur Abdin, or a little further west in Chalcis ad Bellum walled enclosure. The site revealed the archeological remains of towers shape coinciding with the Zenobie ones, mentioned by Procopius. A recurring name is Isidorus the younger, one of the greats of the VIth century architecture, who was in charge of the defensive work on the oriental frontier. He makes the link with imperial architects like Anthemius of Thralles, Isidorus of Miletus, Theodorus. They were in charge of the most prestigious and important buildings, with imperial funds, and they also initiated architectural improvement and innovations. We would have then an example of such innovation, and a witness of the half-VIth century poliorcetics.
Foederati – beyond or on our side of the limes? How Romans prefer them
Roman foederati are increasingly in the focus of researchers’ interest in the past few decades. In the last years there are so many valuable contributions to this topic that it is now more popular than ever before. Nevertheless there are still so many blind spots in the researches and studies and the proposed paper will try to add one more question to the existing ones. My paper will research one very interesting topic related with the Roman foederati namely “Where Romans prefer their foederati to be – beyond the limes in the so called Barbaricum or on Roman soil?”. It is very important to find out if there is some strict Roman policy on this matter or Romans act different depending on every individual case. I will try to research Roman politics towards the foederati on the limes over time and space researching the bigger part of the IV and V century and also investigating different parts of the limes. I will try to research the Roman point of view about the foederati and their preferable disposition on both sides of the limes. Because of this I will study mainly Roman written sources. We should also try to understand if there are some different ideas and concepts about the foederati in the Western part of the Empire and in the Easter one or both parts share common ideas and policies. Then I will research if there are some differences between the foederati groups beyond the limes and these on Roman soil.
The Roman fort at Arelape/Pöchlarn and its development in Late Antiquity
Before our millennium our knowledge concerning the Roman fort at Arelape in the province of Noricum – today Pöchlarn in Lower Austria – was quite limited. It was only in the years 2002/2003, 2008/2009 and 2012 that large parts of the fort were excavated. The analysis of these excavations showed that the fort had enclosed a total area of approximately 1,9 ha and that it had been built in Flavian times. During the second and third centuries, a milliary cohors peditata was stationed there. Probably at the end of the third or the beginning of the fourth century, the fortifications were strengthened by the construction of huge fan-shaped angle, U-shaped interval and rectangular gate towers. Inside the fort, no bigger alterations of the buildings could be noticed. Therefore it seems that the excavated area was used at that time by the military in the same way it had been in the past. However, in the second half of the fourth century, major changes took place: in areas, which had not been built up for more than 150 years, mortar floors were constructed, belonging to otherwise not attested wooden structures. Furthermore one of the older mid Roman buildings was torn down and replaced by new wooden buildings with channel floor heating systems. One of these buildings was even built inside the via sagularis. These new features date to the second half or the last third of the fourth century. They can be explained by the resettlement of civilians in the interior of the Roman fort, where there had been enough place after the reduction of the manpower of its military unit.
Le concept de “limes” dans les sources textuelles antiques / The Concept of “limes” in the Ancient Textual Sources
Français : La définition du terme latin “limes” a été au centre de nombreux débats depuis plusieurs décennies. Au fil du temps, il fut tantôt assimilé de la notion de “frontière” – fortifiée ou non -, tantôt plutôt à celle de “passage” ; il fut aussi associé à une stratégie militaire – globale ou non – ou, encore, considéré comme un terme abstrait, indéfinissable et intraduisible. Beaucoup des définitions proposées jusqu’à aujourd’hui sont valables, du moins dans un contexte précis ; aucune n’est toutefois définitive. Pourra-t-on un jour clore le débat ? Certainement jamais. Sans aucunement avoir une telle prétention, la présente communication propose de revoir le dossier, en se concentrant, à la lumière de l’historiographie, sur des exemples tirés des sources textuelles, de manière à faire ressortir les évolutions dans l’utilisation (y compris non militaire) dudit terme par les Romains
English : The definition of the Latin term “limes” was at the centre of many debates for several decades. Over time, it was sometimes assimilated to the notion of “border” – fortified or not -, sometimes rather to that of “path” ; it was also associated with a military strategy – global or not – or even considered as an abstract, indefinable and untranslatable term. Many of the proposed definitions until today are valid, at least in a specific context ; none, however, is definitive. Can we close the debate one day ? Certainly never. Without any such pretension, the present communication proposes to review the case, focusing, in the light of historiography, on examples drawn from textual sources, so as to highlight the evolutions in the use (including non-military) of this term by Romans.
Militärisch und/oder zivil ? – Zur spätantiken Nutzung des mittelkaiserzeitlichen Kastells von Dormagen (Rheinkreis Neuss/D) / Military or civilian ? – The late antique use of the auxiliary fort or Dormagen
Im mittelkaiserzeitlichen Alenlager Durnomagus/Dormagen, gelegen an der niedergermanischen Ripa zwischen Köln und Neuss, fanden in den 1990er und am Beginn des 21. Jahrhunderts umfangreiche Ausgrabungen statt. Die Auswertung der spätantiken Nutzungsphase (2. Hälfte 3. bis Mitte 5. Jahrhundert) ergab sowohl eine Neunutzung der mittelkaiserzeitlichen Umwehrung und den Einbau eines Burgus in die Norostecke des Kastells. Auf dem Kastellareal entstand in der Spätphase eine unregelmäßige Bebauung, die kaum Rücksicht auf die Gliederung des mittelkaiserzeitlichen Lagers nimmt. Befunde und vor allem das Fundmaterial deuten sowohl auf eine militärische wie eine zivile Nutzung in differenzierter Ausprägung, die ein verändertes Konzept in der Nutzung dieses Platzes im Rahmen der Grenzsicherung der Germania Secunda erkennen läßt.
A Tetrarchic Roman fort under the Umayyad palace of Khirbat al-Mafjar (Jericho)? An hypothesis on the location of the missing Roman forts at Ariha-Jericho (Palestina) and the sequence of transformation and reuse of the site.
This paper present the hypothesis of the existence of a Tetrarchic Fort underneath the Umayyad palace of Khirbat al-Mafjar in Jericho (Palestine), based on the preliminary result of a series of remote-sensing surveys carried out as part of the Jericho Mafjar Project in 2014. The orientation, dimensions and shape of these structures would allow interpreting them as belonging to a Roman fort 100m square, probably from Late Roman period, similar in dimensions, size and orientation to those of Daja’aniya, Avdat, Umm al Jimal or Khirbet el Khaw.
Written sources mention the potential existence of at least three different Roman installations in the Jericho Oasis from the 1st C AD throughout the Tetrarchic period. Legio X Fretensis had its winter camp at Jericho in 68 AD in a location which remains a mystery. Apart from this winter camp, a military detachment would have been set permanently in Jericho, to control this strategic oasis, in the crossroads which links Jerusalem to the Jordanian plains to the east, as well as to control the traffic along the Jordan Valley, blocking the access of Bedouin raiders. These reasons certainly determined the constructions of other Roman installations in the Oasis in later periods. We know from written sources that a Roman fort was established in Jericho in 130 AD, which played a role in putting down the Bar Kochba revolt in 133AD. The location of this new military installation would have been in a strategic place at the edge of the oasis, but near to crossroads, and accessible water sources, a description which fits with the location of Mafjar.
The confirmation of the existence of this fort under the Umayyad palace, together with the material remains and evidences of the existence in the vicinity (if not at the same premises) of a monastery (looted for the construction of the Umayyad palace), would reinforce the model of transformation and change of use of Roman forts from the Limes Arabicus put forward by the Author. According to this interpretative model, many of these forts would have been transformed into monasteries (and in some cases palatial venues by the Ghassanids), and later into Umayyad palaces (ARCE, I. 2015: “Severan Castra, Tetrarchic Quadriburgia, Justinian Coenobia, and Ghassanid Diyarat: Patterns of Transformation of Limes Arabicus Forts During Late Antiquity”, In Collins, R. Roman Military Architecture on the Frontiers. Oxford. 98-122).
The afterlife of the Dutch part of the limes ad Germaniam inferiorem
Harry van Enckevort, Joep Hendriks
Between 165 and 198 the province of Germania inferior was hit by a range of crises (Antonine Plague, raids of the Germanic tribe of the Chauci, the revolt of Maternus, battle for the throne between Clodius Albinus and Septimius Severus). In these turbulent years, the castella on the southern bank of the Rhine and numerous settlements in the hinterland of the limes were abandoned, causing an end to the Pax Romana
Around the year 200, the Romans managed to restore the limes along the Rhine, according to the rebuilding of the previously mentioned castella. Possibly military units were also stationed in the two municipiae (Ulpia Noviomagus, Municipium Aelium Cananefatium). Despite the foundation of a few new settlements in the civitates south of the Rhine, it is clear from settlement research that the depopulation that started in the late 2nd century could not be stopped anymore. Politically, it remained turbulent in the 3rd century, which allowed Germanic colonists to settle south of the limes.
Around 270-280 A.D. again the limescastella and many settlements in the hinterland had been abandoned. After Constantius Chlorus had regained control of the area in 293, some new castella (Nijmegen, Cuijk, Rossum) were built in the Batavian area. Presumably the castellum Brittenburg was founded near the mouth of Rhine at the same time. There are no indications that the limescastella between the Brittenburg and Nijmegen, that had been lost a few decades before, were taken into use again. The limes defense system along the Rhine has lost its function. Settlement investigation also shows that the direct hinterland of the limes, with the exception of the civitas Batavorum, became more and more depopulated during the course of the 4th century.
Finds from the abandoned castellum sites along the Rhine show that they were still visited in the 4th century, presumably for the extraction of raw materials, mainly metal, glass and building material.
In summary, it can be said that the fragmentation of both the limes and the settlement structure in the immediate hinterland in the northwestern part of Germania inferior started in the late 2nd century, and was completed in the second half of the 4th century. Only the Batavian area around Nijmegen was actually part of the Western Roman Empire at the beginning of the 5th century. A narrow corridor along the Maas formed the most important connection with the more southern parts of the Roman empire.
The old imperial castrum in a new shape: the Late Roman fort. Case study on Dobruja
The Tetrarchic military reform was intensively studied in many aspects, such as the increase in the number of the legions while decreasing their number of soldiers, the permanent settlement of some military troops in the limes areas, the correlated administrative changes and so on. The physical spaces in which the Late Roman forts took shape were also under the close attention of some scholars. Nevertheless, these forts were never explained properly on their possible precedent in terms of architectural program.
This paper explores a new interpretation of the Late Roman forts taken from another perspective: the functional logic of their general layout. In the effort to understand the spatial relations between the fortifications, the main and secondary gates, the street network and the buildings of some better known forts in Dobruja, a working hypothesis gained contour. If we consider these new fortresses as simple functional schemes, one may learn that they are not much different than the one of the classical castrum. The essential elements are preserved: the walls, the gates, even the (more or less) orthogonal intersection of the main streets, also the principia, the praetorium, the granary and the houses of the soldiers – but not only that. In a closer look, another essential aspect is possibly preserved, which is the way these elements relate, i.e. the functional relations between them. Different, indeed, are the size and the shape of the entire layout, which for many scholars simply meant a completely different image of the fort compared to the (generic) imperial one: shorter and narrower streets, irrigating an irregular contour and therefore variously shaped insulae of houses.
As largely accepted, the similarity of the early imperial forts was based on the principle of the easy orientation for the soldiers in any new camp that they temporarily resided in; after all, no two camps in the Empire are actually identical. But following this principle of easy orientation was nothing else than maintaining the same functional scheme. Were these basic principles of orientation and design no longer useful after the military reform? In my reading of the analyzed Late Roman structures, the logic of the earlier castrum was actually maintained and adapted to fit the newly preferred defendable sites and perhaps the new organization of the troops.