Hiding in Woods. Gaps in delineating the Boundary along Limes Transalutanus
Eugen S. Teodor
A three years research project (2014-2017) was dedicated on topography of Limes Transalutanus, mainly between Danube and Argeș Valley (ca 158 km). This sector is made of three segments: a southern one (up to Vedea River), fully marked by a palisade; a central one, which is a ripa, standing behind a high terrace; a third, northern segment, which should be alike the first, but it is not. Along the mentioned research, our knowledge about that almost 60 km was improved, by a starting 10% from the route, progressing at 25% at the end of the activity. Obviously, we are not that far from the departure point, because the largest part of the route remains unknown, between Urlueni and Pitești. We are dealing here with a frontier crossing a flat plain, which – theoretically at least – should be marked with an obvious obstacle. But it is not, except some short lines, around 2 km long each.
In the presentation I will reveal the main known traits of the frontier from the first half of the third century, but also the possible reasons for such a mysterious absence. I will question a possible effect of the intensive agriculture, but also alternative approaches, as possible natural obstacles. Today, that field is ploughed, but cartographic documentation, place names evidence, but also pedological data, suggest that the frontier route heading Argeș River was heavily forested, mainly for those latest 60 km.
In order to prove the difficult circulation on east-west movement, across the Romanian Plain, I will display also the distribution of the archaeological sites for a large span of time, from the first century BC to AD sixth century.
Zur Toponomastik der römischen Limeslager an der österreichischen Donau nach den Listen der Limitantruppen von Noricum ripensis und Pannonia prima in der Notitia Dignitatum
Entlang der 335 Stromkilometer des österreichischen Limesabschnittes konnten bisher 13 norische und 6 pannonische Uferkastelle archäologisch erforscht werden. Jedoch ist es bisher nicht gelungen zweifelfrei auch alle ihre Lagernamen zu bestimmen.
Mit einer allein auf die Listen der Kommandostandorte von Noricum ripensis und Pannonia prima in der Notitia Dignitatum gerichteten Untersuchung sollte versucht werden, die herrschende Unsicherheit der Forschung in Fragen der Limestoponomastik zu beenden.
Dazu wurde das Reihungssystem der Truppenstandorte in der ND analysiert und ohne Berücksichtigung der antiken Rangordnungszwänge diese Standorte nach ihrer geographischen Abfolge entlang des Donauverlaufes neu gereiht. Nach einer Abgleichung dieser neuen Standorteliste mit einer Liste aller schon am Untersuchungsabschnitt archäologisch erkannten Limeslager, deren antike Namen aus anderen Quellen schon bestimmt waren, ließ sich die neue Lagerreihung und die Namenszuweisungen an bisher namenlose oder in ihrer Namenszuweisung unsicher beurteilte Lager überprüfen, ergänzen oder korrigieren.
Das Ergebnis der Listenkonkordanz ist überzeugend. Es läßt eine archäologisch und geografisch abgesicherte Zuordnung aller in der Notitia Dignitatum des Untersuchungsabschnittes verzeichneten Standortenamen an die österreichischen, slowakischen und westungarischen Donaulimes bekannten Lager erkennen.
Fragezeichen zu Lagernamen, wie noch in der jüngeren und jüngsten österreichischen Limesliteratur üblich, sollten sich künftig erübrigen.
“Limes Sarmatiae” – Ancient maps, new interpretations
Alexandru Flutur, Adrian-Cristian Ardelean
The earthen ramparts, generically termed “limes Sarmatiae” represent a system of ramparts that start in the north from the left bank of the Danube, north of Aquincum and run approximately along the limit between the Great Hungarian Plain and the bordering forested hill areas. In the south, the ramparts stop on the Danube line, in front ancient Viminacium. These earthen ramparts remain open debate, as their role was not yet fully clarified.
This presentation has two parts. Firstly, we shall attempt to rectify in as much as possible the usual map (well established until present) of these ramparts. Secondly, we shall draw certain hypothesises on their functionality.
The map of the “Sarmatae” rampart system was drawn based on a 19th-c. synthetic map, later adjusted by early 60’ies, when the Hungarian archaeologists initiated an extensive programme of archaeological research of the ramparts. These investigations resulted in certain adjustments of the map in the studies areas. Nevertheless, the ramparts’ map remained overall that drawn up in the second half of the 19th century. When tracing the “Roman ditches” (Römer Schanze), emerging on the first two Habsburg military maps – see the excellent MAPIRE map portal -, we found there are notable differences between the mapping of these ditches on maps and in current studies. In what the Banat region is concerned, it seems that the third line of ramparts does not exist. In Banat are visible only two lines of the linear “fortifications”; that in the west, the main line and the one in the east, the secondary line, generally lying at a distance of 10-25 km from the first. Other map corrections may be made also north of Banat, where only the line of a single rampart exists.
Current interpretations have emphasized the military and defensive role of the so-called linear fortification. Our hypothesis resumes the view of Professor Alexandru Diaconescu that a key role of these earthen ramparts was to control transhumance. Those who had to stop by these boundaries were the herders, who practiced transhumance. In plain lands, large cattle and horses were commonly herded. Most likely, transhumance was allowed to a certain degree and in controlled manner. For such purpose, crossing locations, namely gates, were set up. According to observations on maps as well as field observations, we believe that some gates may be identified. We do not aim at rendering absolute the role of the transhumance, however, our hypothesis is supported by arguments.
É. Garam, P. Patay, S. Soproni, Sarmatisches Wallsystem im Karpatenbecken, Budapest, 2003
Eszter Istvánovits, Valéria Kulcsár, Sarmatians. History and Archaeology of a Forgotten People, (Monographien des Römisch-Germanischen Zentralmuseums, Band 123), Mainz, 2017
The Border or its Zone? The Situation in Southeastern Dardania
The publication of Spätantike und frühbyzantinische Befestigungen in Nordmakedonien: Städte, Vici, Refugien, Kastelle by Ivan Mikulčić in 2002 provided a view of the types and locations of fortresses in modern R. Macedonia. The delineation of provincial borders by means of Grenzkastelle is especially interesting in a small country whose territory includes parts of several provinces newly created in the late 3rd century, i.e., Epirus nova, Dacia mediterranea, Dardania, and maybe Praevalitana, not to mention the shifting boundaries of the Late Antique province(s) of Macedonia. There is evidence to suggest that the borders of Macedonia (II), Dacia mediterranea, and Dardania came together at Asanica, near the village of Tatomir in Kratovo County. Dardania and Dacia mediterranea belonged to the Diocese of Dacia, the province of Macedonia to the Diocese of Macedonia, within the Prefecture of Eastern Illyricum.
A look at the southeast corner of Dardania thus defined shows several fortresses that overlooked the border, but more interesting are the features within or running across a broad border zone. The anonymous Late Antique city at the site of Golemo Gradište at the village of Konjuh stood beside an east-west road running through the Kriva River valley and guarded by a line of fortresses; it crossed the border into Dacia mediterranea ca. 10 km from Golemo Gradište. Only a few kilometers to the north a second east-west road, probably the main one, likewise crossed the eastern border. From the city at Golemo Gradište, a road ran south over a pass guarded by fortresses at Pezovo and Gradište to the plain of Ovče Polje; a Late Antique site with a square shape was recently identified beside the road several kilometers from Konjuh. A customs station from the 3rd century, identified by an inscription, was located at Klečovce. The inscriptions from Golemo Gradište and vicinity, mostly Latin but with some Greek, point to a linguistically mixed zone as well as the presence of military personnel. A line of three fortified hilltops, visible from one another, runs parallel to the eastern border of Dardania, but their significance is unclear.
The situation suggests that in some parts of the empire the existence of the border was indicated by the variety of settlements, installations, and structures located in the zone through which the border ran.
A Soldier’s Map: Velleius Paterculus on the Limits of Empire
This paper considers how Velleius ‘mapped’ the Roman frontier. As a soldier, senator, and scholar (of a sort), he served the Roman empire for some three decades prior to the publication of his history in 30 CE. His military career saw him patrol the Balkan provinces, march along and beyond the Rhine, explore the eastern provinces, and stand on the banks of the Euphrates. Whatever the quality of his scholarship, Velleius’ descriptions of the empire’s frontiers illuminate a mental map of Roman imperial power.
After briefly illustrating Velleius’ tendency to accept contemporary and common tropes of worldwide empire, this paper explores and compares his treatment of the physical geography (especially the rivers and terrain) and peoples on the eastern and northern frontiers, specifically along the Euphrates and along and beyond the Rhine. An examination of his mental conception of these limits of empire and the peoples who lived beyond them illuminates not only his appreciation of Rome’s imperial endeavors and rivals, but also his own personal understanding of (and hopes for) the geopolitics of the Roman empire.
Modern scholars have emphasized the fact that ancient historians and geographers wrote in response to the successes and failures of the empire and as a result they had to come to grips with the real and imagined results of imperialism. While Velleius did not write a formal geography, like Strabo or Mela, by examining his implicit and intuitive geographic and ethnographic references, he emerges as both a writer immersed in the geopolitical culture of his age, and a military commander who was aware of the harsh realities and difficulties associated with ensuring the security of the empire. He thus illustrates the dichotomy that existed between imperialists and chroniclers that claimed limitless power, and soldiers and participants who better knew the realities on the ground. Consequently, this paper also considers whether Velleius exploited his conception of Rome’s frontiers to influence imperial actions.