The African Limes during the Byzantine Period: a Networks Stratigraphy
In his Buildings, Procopius enumerates the fortifications Justinian constructed in Byzacena after he had “reconquered” the African territory from the Vandals. These buildings are relatively well known, having been studied by Charles Diehl at the end of the 19th century and, more recently, by Denys Pringle. In south-western modern-day Tunisia, in the High Steppes, they seem to constitute a double “limit” (ἐσχατία), according to Procopius’s word. They form a kind of buffer surrounded by fortifications installed just in front of the few passes that enable the crossing of the High Steppes low mountains.
My PhD thesis, defended in 2014, permitted a reconsideration of all the constructions described as fortified that have been mentioned so far in the Tunisian High Steppes. Thematic surveys were organised, associating studies of the structures surviving in elevation and ceramic collections. This field work allows us to reinterpret some of these forts and “fortlets”. In fact, many do not appear to have had a real defensive function, but some really may have been part of the Justinian network. Indeed, analysis of their forms, of their location choices, and especially of their relationships one with another (examined by means of spatial analysis) show that the Justinian network was probably completed throughout the Byzantine period, perhaps right up until the Muslim conquest. A kind of stratigraphy of fortified networks seems to appear in the Tunisian High Steppes.
A set of about twenty small buildings was highlighted among a corpus of about 300 sites scattered across the region. They may constitute the last network of the Byzantine era. They took the form of towers and are found especially in the centre of the High Steppes, between the cities of Ammaedara/Haidra and Sufetula/Sbeitla. An important battle between the Byzantine and Muslim forces is known to have taken place near the latter city in 647. Sbeitla also sheltered the exarch Gregory and his troops during this same time. My presentation will focus on these small constructions that may have had a defensive role, and on their possible uses.
The Numidian Limes from Mesarfelta to Thubunae: An Interdisciplinary Approach
The study of the African fossatum in Numidia has produced significant scholarship on its form and primary function to control the movement of transhumant routes for more efficient taxation. What is often less apparent is when and which military units were associated with the forts that were constructed as part of the operation of the linear barriers. Combining fragmentary inscriptional evidence from Hadrian’s speeches to the African army in AD 128 with a theoretical model of Roman fort design provides insight into the initial phase of the Numidian Limes under Hadrian. More specifically, this interdisciplinary approach reconstructs the auxiliary units associated with the fossatum from Mesarfelta to Thubunae and their arrangement.Alan Richardson’s theoretical model, developed from the research of Roman forts in Britain mostly from the 1st half of the 2nd century AD, predicts which type of military unit an auxiliary fort was designed for from perimeter dimensions. The model is not overly complex but takes advantage of standard features exhibited by forts throughout this period. It demonstrates how a Roman military engineer could calculate the space requirements for all military units, both infantry and cavalry, with a table of square roots and a measuring rod. Furthermore, I tested Richardson’s model on forts along the African fossatum and Numidia dated to roughly the same period as those in Britain. I found a strong correlation when compared to inscriptional evidence, allowing the model to be utilized confidently at locations where scant material evidence for occupation remains.The inscription from Hadrian’s speeches, recorded on a monument at the parade grounds of Lambaesis, indicates an unknown cohort was inspected on or just before July 7th at Zarai. The Ala I Pannonorum and Cohors VI Commagenorum were both inspected on July 13th but not at the same location. The name Cohors I Chalcidenorum is also found on an unplaced fragment from Hadrian’s monument, but their location is secured at Gemellae from a dedicatory inscription to Hadrian from AD 126. I conclude, following the route from Zarai to Gemellae, Hadrian would have addressed the Ala I Pannonorum at Thubunae then the Cohors VI Cammagenorum at Mesarfelta. Additionally, the model indicates a division between the infantry and cavalry of Cohors VI Commagenorum among two closely located forts at Mesarfelta, which is further supported by the fact Hadrian only addressed the cavalry portion of this unit.
Modus Operandi of the Odenwald Limes
Ever since the first comprehensive reports about the Odenwald Limes were published, the so-called Strecke 10 have been considered as slightly different from other parts of Roman frontiers. The nature and size of the garrison were frequently put in relationship with local landscape.
Presented paper is an attempt to offer a more complex point of view at the issue. Did the landscape determined the position of towers, Limesweg, Grenzstrasse, individual forts or lastly added palisade? What was the framework that the Romans tried to fit in? Were the individual forts positioned in the way to be easily accessible from neighbouring ones? Were the towers intervisible each with other and together with nearby lying fort(s)?
These broad questions are answerable via detailed Landscape study in artificial environment. Focus is put on graphical resemblance of lines of sight of individual forts, fortlets and towers, convenience of roads on Limes and accessibility of forts from both Barbaricum, Roman hinterland and other Roman sites. Presented study is a result of work with digital terrain model (ATKIS-DGM 1) in programs allowing advanced spatial analyses (ArcGIS, QGIS). Study area is the section of Limes between forts at Wörth and Schlossau.
This work attempts to shed more light on a question whether (and if so, how much) was Odenwald Limes adapted to a specific local landscape, whether there was a lateral signal communication possible and how can be described individual sites of Roman forts in terms accessibility.
Watch out for Watchtowers! Fakten und Fiktion zu deren Rekonstruktion
Häufig werden die Neubauten von Wachttürmen als 1:1-Nachbau, maßstabsgetreu oder originalgetreu angepriesen. Doch was ist wirklich über das Aussehen und die Gestaltung von Wachttürmen entlang der römischen Grenze bekannt?
Konkrete Aussagen lassen sich nur zu den durch Ausgrabungen sicher festgestellten Befunden treffen. Besonders die Ausgrabungen der Reichs-Limeskommission zwischen 1892 und 1902 haben den heutigen Kenntnisstand geprägt. Mittels moderner Forschungsmethoden, wie geophysikalische Prospektionen und Airborne-Laserscans (ALS), lassen sich noch weitere Aussagen treffen, die jedoch nur die Grabungsbefunde ergänzen können und weiter reichende Überlegungen zulassen. Durch die Grabungen vom Ende des 19. Jahrhunderts und einige wenige moderne archäologische Eingriffe lassen sich gesicherte Aussagen nur zu den Maßen, zu Mauerstärken, zu teilweise ebenerdigen Eingängen und zu erhaltenen Mauerhöhen treffen.
Dies bedeutet nun aber, dass der Großteil der modernen Neubauten sowie auch zeichnerische, digital-virtuelle und modellbauhafte Darstellungen reine Vermutungen sind. Die dargestellten, nicht durch Grabung belegten Teile solcher Visualisierungen gehen auf unterschiedliche Überlegungen zurück. Für viele Gebäudeteile, wie die umlaufenden Galerien und die Dachform, dienten die Trajans- und Marcussäulen als Vorlagen.
Gerade die 113 n. Chr. geweihte Trajanssäule, die zum Beginn des die Dakerkriege schildernden Bildfrieses drei Wachttürme mit Quaderoberfläche, Zeltdach und umlaufender Galerie an einem Fluss darstellt, wird als bildliche Quelle zur Rekonstruktion von Wachttürmen entlang des Limes herangezogen. Jedoch ist die Übertragbarkeit auf die Verhältnisse am Obergermanisch-Raetischen Limes hinsichtlich der chronologischen und topographischen Einordnung kaum möglich. Die zwischen 176 und 180 n. Chr. errichtete, chronologisch immerhin passende Marcussäule ist als bildliche Vorlage kaum zu nutzen, da sie gerade an der entsprechenden Stelle stark zerstört ist. Auch ist beiden ein propagandistischer Hintergrund zuzuschreiben, der dafür spricht, dass nur bedingt die reale Situation wiedergegeben werden sollte.
Die häufig rekonstruierte Dreigeschossigkeit der Türme geht auf Dietwulf Baatz‘s Überlegungen bezüglich der Sichtverbindung zweier Wachttürme am Odenwaldlimes zurück und wurde in den meisten Fällen übernommen. Doch können mittels Analyse der aus den ALS ermittelten Digitalen Geländemodellen (DGM) schnell unzählige Sichtverbindungsmessungen durchgeführt werden, die neue Schlüsse hinsichtlich der benötigten Sichthöhe und damit der Turmhöhe zulassen.
Zur Ausgestaltung der aufgehenden Bausubstanz der insgesamt 32 Neubauten von Wachttürmen entlang des Obergermanisch-Raetischen Limes sowie den unzähligen Rekonstruktionen in zeichnerischer, digitaler und modellbauhafte Form lassen sich aus archäologischen Befunden und Funden kaum Aussagen treffen.
Reasons for adaptation a tropaion to the Roman world
The tradition of seating up a tropaion after the battle is of Greek origin. In the beginning it was the greatest of the captured panoply (complete suit of armor and arms) hung on the tree trunk or on the pole located in the center of the battlefield or in the visible location nearby. Most likely it was an offering to the god to whom the victory was dedicated and as such was protected by law. Those constructions stood in place until they were destroyed by natural causes. However after the Persian wars Greeks started to construct a durable trophies. The most famous ones was set under the Marathon and Leuctra but there were many more. Those were the long lasting monuments of victory that became the recognizable elements of the landscape. We know that this practice was known to Romans. In the times of the Republic the tropaion become the popular symbol of victory in iconography. However Romans do not have the custom of constructing the temporal or “field tropaion” (beside the isolated examples). But since the times of two generals Domitius Ahenobarbus and Fabius Maximus romans started to construct trophies made of stone imitating the famous Greek ones. Also Caesar had built one in Greece. But the most important Roman monuments known as tropaeum was set in the visible places built as a part of a landscape – a permanent memento of victory and a visible sign of power over the area. The best known and preserved to our times Roman trophies in architectural form of the durable commemorative monuments are known from the Col de Panissars, Actium, La Turbie and Adamclisi.
Tuscan and Ionic Order in the Architecture of the Legionary Camp of Novae (Moesia Inferior)
Andrzej B. Biernacki and Elena Klenina
The present paper owes its existence to the many years’ interdisciplinary studies of the architec-tural elements and details from Novae, conducted by archeologists, architects and geologists. Among the 1386 architectural elements and details from Novae covered by the macroscopic petrographic studies of rock material were Tuscan and Ionic-Roman capitals. These architectural elements were classified according to their typological and stylistic characteristics.
The comparative investigations of the Tuscan and Ionic-Roman capitals unearthed in Novae have shown a strikingly parallel chronology of their occurrence. All of the Tuscan capitals discovered in Novae so far are made of crumbly limestone. Around A.D. 90, the local crumbly limestone started to be applied in Novae. One of the reasons behind the increased demand for the latter material was that it could be easily encountered in the area of Novae, occurring principally in the valleys of the Danube and its tributaries, including the river Yantra. The same type of limestone was also the usual material for the construction of the walls of the legionary camp in Novae between the last decade of the 1st cent. and the 240s A.D.
Most of the architectural details in the Tuscan order come from the yard of the valetudinarium, dated to the reign of Trajan, and more precisely, to the very end of the 1st cent. A.D. The diameters of the bases of the columns from the valetudinarium were between 36 and 40 cm. In accordance with Vitruvius’ prescriptions, the height of a Tuscan column from the valetudinarium would amount to 3.6 m. This conclusion refers not only to the inner yard, but also to the external portico in the western front façade of the hospital facing the via praetoria. Considering the fact that the hospital was built by legionaries of the 1st Italian legion, it is entirely reasonable that its design should apply the Tuscan order, which after all was the native order for the Roman legionaries. Another argument in favor of using it in Novae was the techniques of construction and the available material. More support of this view comes from the Tuscan semi-capital of a very simple shape, which was also discovered in No-vae. Originally, it had been at the top of one of the six Tuscan semi-columns of the diameter of 90 cm in the façade of a row of chambers behind the transverse room in the basilica principiorum in Novae, where the chapel of standards was the principal interior. This part of the principia is dated to the times of Trajan (98–117 A.D.). The full height of the Tuscan semi-columns was probably app. 11 m.
Forty Ionic-Roman capitals have been discovered in Novae so far. Only five are made of crumbly limestone. Their appearance strongly suggests that originally they decorated a sanctuary of an uniden-tified Roman deity. This may explain the fact that the volutes of one capital have the shapes of snakes or adders. The biggest Ionic-Roman capital discovered so far in Novae is also made of crum-bly limestone. Found in a secondary layer in the yard of the episcopal basilica, it was originally a part of the portico in the yard of the forum militare of the principia. The erection of the principia in Novae dates to the reign of the emperors of the Flavian dynasty (A.D. 69–96), but this capital specifies that the time of the construction of the transverse room in the basilica principiorum was during the reign of Trajan (A.D. 98–117).
A vast majority of the Ionic-Roman capitals from Novae, viz., 35, are made of organogenous de-trital limestone, warranting the assumption that they were produced between A.D. 130 and 233, when the quarry in Hotnitsa provided the limestones to Novae, including material for statue’s pedestals and tombstones. Their style and workmanship are the closest to those found in the Roman cities in Asia Minor. Thus, stonemasons and builders from Nicomedia and Nicaea, or their successors and descendants, could have been instrumental in the spreading of the Ionic-Roman order in Novae, even if only indirectly, when they worked at the quarry in Hotnitsa and in the workshops which apparently were established near the stone-pit to produce items made of the local organogenous detrital limestone.
Locating the VIth century Βιμινάκιον
The goal of this report is to propose an analysis of archaeological sources, historical written sources, and of geographical features that could help to define the terms of the problem related to the localisation of the civil settlement of Βιμινάκιον during the VIth century The ancient roman city of Viminacium, after Empire’s crisis of the Vth century, has been regained in 535 A. D., reconstructed and declared episcopal seat on Giustinian’s order; a seat under the control of the archibishop of Iustiniana Prima. Such informations are known by the indications that Procopius gave us in his De Aedificis, and by the text of Novellae Iustiniani which unfortunately don’t provide further informasions or descriptions about the settlement.It is also known that the city has been definitively conquered in 584 A. D. by an avaro-slave army that in 600 A. D. rejected the remaining imperial garrisons from the region. Teophylact Simocatta provided us these informations using two different words defining the site/settlement of Βιμινάκιον: “city” and “Danube’s island”. This detail highlights a interpretative problem about the type of settlement and it’s hypothetical localisation.Archaeologically it is indeed known that the roman city of Viminacium has been discovered in a plain on the southern Danube’s shore and not on an riverine island while some VIth century ruins of a fortification have been discovered by the western bank of the Mlava river in a maindland areaIn consideration of the absence of stratigraphy not more recent of the Vth century A. D. in the area of the ancient roman city, and of the absence of a VIth century settlement by byzantines ruins there is therefore an important question about the possible location of the civil settlement of Βιμινάκιον and the reasons that pushed Teophylact to use two different terms to describe the site.Through the revision of historical-literary news, of archaeological data, and the comparison with other sites such as Sirmium, a systematization of the theme will be proposed and a hypothesis of localization of the site will be formulated.