The swords in Roman Dacia
The recent monograph of the Roman swords includes a surprinsingly small number of examples originating in the Dacian provinces. It is therefore of some interest to make an up-to-date study of the swords from the Roman Dacia, as much as some of them are uncommon pieces.
In this context I shall deal with the swords blades and handle assemblages but not with their scabbard-fittigs since these are very numerous and deserve a typological approach on their own.
Two Trajanic swords have been found: one gladius of Pompeii type in the fortress of legio IV Flavia at Berzovia and a spatha of straight pattern (Streifendamast) in the small auxiliary fort ar Rucăr, so far the earliest known Roman sword manufactured through this technical method. Spathae dated from c. AD 180 to 250/70 were found in the auxiliary forts at Copăceni, Hoghiz, Micia (2 ex.), Bologa, Cășeiu. Among them two pieces stand out: the narrow sword from Cășeiu assigned to the cavalry equipment and the one from Bologa having a central band of twisted metal strips, a more elaborated method of pattern-welding (Torsiondamast) attested only since the 3rd century. Besides, one fragmentary spatha was discovered in the fortress of legio V Macedonica at Potaissa and a short sword with bone pommel and handguard in the auxiliary fort at Tibiscum, both also dated in the 3rd century.
As for the handle assemblages I know a bone handgrip from Micia. five bronze handguard plates at Potaissa, Micia, Slăveni, Cigmău, Porolissum or Tihău and two fragments of iron handles of ring-pommel swords originating in Porolissum.
In addition to the relatively rare blades and fragments of handles there are over one hundred scabbard-fittings (slides and chapes), a situation resulting from the difference in survival rates between these two categories of artefacts.
Roman ‘cavalry sports’ face-mask helmets and the spectacle of pantomime
The exquisite face-mask helmets which were worn by Roman cavalry troopers of the first to the third centuries AD remain an enigma to students of the Roman army, despite the significant number of examples which have been discovered to date. It is widely accepted that they are the helmets referred to by Arrian in the Taktika (34.2-4) in describing Roman cavalry exercises (hippika gymnasia) such as he himself may have attended at Lambaesis in Africa in A.D. 128 in the presence of the emperor Hadrian. If so, then according to Arrian (who at the time of writing was an experienced military commander), they were different from helmets made for battle, which did not enclose the face. The most puzzling aspect about them, which Arrian does not explain, is who or what these figural helmets in the form of a human head, were meant to depict. Many of them could be interpreted simply as representations of young men with a variety of hairstyles; as such, they might be idealised portraits of their wearers or of soldiers in general. In several cases, however, some sort of distinctive headgear is shown, not always military in nature, and much more surprisingly a number of the helmets clearly depict female heads. Since the appearance of H. Russell Robinson’s The armour of Imperial Rome in 1975, the most widely accepted explanation of the latter is that some at least of the helmets were used in the staging of mock-battles between Greeks and Amazons, and that the female-face helmets represent either the latter or other eastern female-warrior figures. One recent study which follows this interpretation has seen in this a filtered version of a ‘debate on the relative courage of the two sexes, a topos in ancient rhetoric.’ Another has likewise taken it to reflect an element of high culture imposed by an aristocratic officer class upon their less-educated but respectful troopers. This paper will suggest that these interpretations are misguided, and that the female and at least some of the male masks had their roots rather in Roman spectacle and more specifically in the hugely popular medium of Roman pantomime; these helmets should be seen not as an echo of a high culture distant from the troops who wore them, but as derived from, and themselves a phenomenon of, Roman mass culture.
Marble soldiers on Marcus’ column: a comparison of its depictions of Roman military equipment and the archaeological finds
Boris Alexander Burandt
The reliefs of the column of Marcus Aurelius in Rome have often been used to illustrate the arms and armour of Roman soldiers, despite the fact that it was extensively reconstructed during the late Renaissance. During the last decades many of the Danubian limes sites of the Marcomannic wars, the historic background depicted on the column, have been excavated, re-vealing numerous militaria. In my paper, I will first separate the antique parts of the frieze from the additions made during the late Renaissance and then analyse the military equipment de-picted on the antique parts, finally comparing it with the ar-chaeological finds from the Danube and elsewhere and result-ing in a broad picture of the Roman army under Marcus Aureli-us and an impression of Rome’s depiction of their forces in state propaganda.
On the origin of mail and the evidence of its early use in the Roman Republic
Martijn A. Wijnhoven
For centuries mail armour was a quintessential piece of military equipment in the Roman army. As with many items, it was not a Roman invention. During the last 150 years of study into arms and armour many different (archaeological) cultures have been put forward as the originators of mail. This ranges from the east in general, to the Scythians, Etruscans, Celts, Thracians or Geto-Dacians. By taking a close look at the archaeological, iconographical and historical record, this paper will try to identify the moment and region of its origin. It will also shed light on the evidence for its use in the Roman Republic and answer the question whether the Romans should be considered early adapters or rather laggards of this new technology.
Weaponry and military equipment from the auxiliary fort of Arcobara
Radu Iustinian Zăgreanu
Until recently, there was a marked gap in the knowledge concerning the weaponry and military equipment (militaria) from the Roman auxiliary fort from Arcobara (Ilișua, Bistrița-Năsăud county, Romania). Recently, a large number of artifacts discovered during the archaeological excavations from 1978 to 2014 were restored and inventored, only a small part of them being previously published. These finds include a wide variety of arrowheads and arrow shafts, scale and laminated armor, shield fragments, sword fragments, knives, spears, javelins, ballista balls, belts, helmets, riding equipment, scabbards and scabbard chapes or helmet fragments, all dating in the 2nd-3rd centuries A.D.
Cavalry equipment finds are extremely rare in the Eastern part of Dacia Porolissensis, revealing an important addition to the already available evidence related to the Roman presence in the region. Arcobara stands out among other Roman camps from Dacia Porolissensis through its great number of finds related to the military, being second only to Porolissum. The extent of the assemblages enabled us to conduct a spatial distribution study, and these data grant us an unique opportunity in understanding the Roman military life in an auxiliary fort at the edge of the Roman Empire.
All in all, the military equipment from Arcobara reveals a fresh insight into the corpora of militaria from Roman Dacia.
Weapons and Military Equipment from the Roman camp Novae at Čezava (Serbia)
This paper deals with finds of weapons and military equipment discovered during the archaeological investigations of the Roman military camp Novae in the Iron Gates gorge. Novae is situated in eastern Serbia,18 km downstream from the entrance to the Iron Gates gorge, at the confluence of the Čezava river with the Danube. According to Roman itineraries, the Novae castel was situated on the Singidunum – Viminacium – Taliata road, 12 miles away from the settlement of Cupae, the present-day Golubac It was investigated from 1965 – 1970 as part of the project accompanying the construction of the Djerdap I power plant and the raising of the level of the Djerdap reservoir, during which many archaeological sites were flooded. Apart from the architectural remains of several successively constructed fortifications (1st to 6th centuries), archaeological investigations of the Roman military camp at Čezava also yielded a large number of finds, including Roman weapons and military equipment (scabbard fittings and chapes, cingulim fittings, shield bosses, armor fittings, iron arrow tips and spearheads, clay slingshots and caltrops). No reliable data about the crew of the camp Novae at Čezava survive for the period preceding the 4th century. It was the Notitia Dignitatum that located two units here: Auxilium Novense and Milites exploratores. What units comprised the crew from the 1st to the 3rd century can only be guessed. Judging by the size of the camp and its surface of 1,6 ha, it could have easily accommodated a unit comprising around 600 soldiers, or cohors quiquenaria, most probably equitata, which might be attested by the finds of equestrian equipment discovered in the archaeological excavations. A unit of such caracter was very convenient for guarding river crossings, monitoring the border and controlling the land and river pathways. In that regard mention ought to be made of a fragmented honorary inscription originating from the end of the 1st or the beginning of the 2nd century relating to the construction of the first stone fortification near Čezava. This inscription registers the construction activities of members of Cohors I Montanorum Civium romanorum, and probably Cohors I Antiochensium, both mixed units transferred to Moesia during Trajan’s preparations for the war with the Dacians.
Key words: Čezava, Novae, Roman military equipment, cohors equitata, Auxilium Novense, Cohors I Montanorum Civium romanorum, Cohors I Antiochensium, Serbia
Weapons in the vicus and the fall of Weißenburg A Comparison between three points of excavations with roman and germanic Weapons at Weißenburg in Bayern (Bavaria)
With the research concerning the big scale excavations of the Bavarian office for heritage conservation in the 1980s in the area of the western vicus recently completed, Weißenburg offers three different areas of already undertaken archaeological research. These are the areas of the inner fort published in the ORL, the excavations at the northern Gate of the fort, published by Grönke and Weinlich (1991), and the areas of the western Vicus, researched by the Author (2017). Though different in size, number of documented archaeological features, scientific possibilities of research and last but not least time of excavation, all areas offer a range of offensive and defensive weapons. As these are in most cases linked to the 3rd century and an often documented destruction layer, it is most likely to attribute them to the final destruction event of vicus and fort. Therefor it should be possible to draw a more or less detailed picture of the martial equipment of the roman troops during this event. Although not revolutionizing existing general observations concerning the roman army in the 3rd century, it might offer further hard data of weapon sizes and uses, in a very limited area and timeframe and therefor serving as basis for further studies. Additionally, several finds of most likely Germanic provenance in the afore mentioned destruction layer are attributed to the opponents of the stationed roman troops, who likely caused the fall of fort and vicus. A comparison between weapons and by that, possibly types of usage and tactics of these foes, might offer a way to learn more about the material and martial aspects of the downfall of the roman troops in the area of the raetian transdanubian limes.
3rd century cavalry (equites legionis?) equipment illustrated on a few monuments from Dacia Superior
Figured monuments from Roman Dacia have been primarily discussed from an art-historic point of view, the main focus being on iconography, type of monument, style, workshop and so on. As a consequence of this mainly descriptive approach, important points have been missed out regarding the equipment illustrated on some of the monuments related to the military. The present paper brings forth a couple of soldier representations which are quite exceptional in the repertoire of Roman Dacia, since they depict fully equipped, battle-ready riders. Furthermore, the proposed dating, i.e. the first half of the 3rd century AD, widens their relevance beyond the provincial context, since the majority of 3rd century soldier monuments throughout the Empire illustrate them in ‘camp’ uniform, with a bare minimum of elements pointing to a military identity. Despite the rather modest artistic quality of the mentioned monuments from Dacia, the degree of detail allows the identification of actual pieces of military equipment, from the riders’ arms and armour to horse harness components. Not lastly, their discovery in the environs of the legionary fortress at Apulum, base of legio XIII Gemina, in conjunction with other indirect evidence, could suggest that we are possibly dealing with representations of equites legionis. If this is the case indeed, then they would bring some interesting pieces of information concerning the equipment of legionary horsemen, especially given the overall low number of figural representations attributed to them.
Some thoughts on the construction of the Roman scorpio of the Principate period
The Greek and Roman torsion arrow-shooter, known as catapulta or scorpio, is arguably the most studied artillery piece of Antiquty. This fact has a simple explanation. Not only do we possess the detailed descriptions of this engine in the treatises of Philon, Heron, and Vitruvius, the figures from the treatise of Heron, the reliefs from the tomb of Vedennius, and the frieze of the Temple of Athena Nikephoros of the Pergamum Acropolis, but we also have a sufficient number of archaeological finds from Ampurias, Caminreal, Xanten-Wardt, Zeugma, Azaila, Cremona, Ephyra, and Carlisle, which complement well the theoretical descriptions of the treatises and the visual sources.
However, despite the apparent abundance of sources, many of the questions regarding the construction of the Vitruvian torsion arrow-shooters remain the subject of heated debates. Unfortunately, because of the indisputable authority of Erwin Schramm and Eric Marsden, who made great contributions to the study of Greek and Roman artillery, parts of their hypotheses transformed into dogmas that veil the eyes of modern researchers. This paper attempts to revise some of the old axioms, such as, for example, the arms design and the module of proportions of these machines, both by taking into account the recent archaeological finds, especially from Xanten-Wardt, and by offering a new look at the old sources, including one of the medieval Arab military and technical treatises.
Roman military cingulum details of Early Principate from a sanctuary Gurzufskoe Sedlo at Mountain Taurica
A paper is devoted to the analysis of a group of silver and bronze Roman military belt details of Early Principate period from a sanctuary Gurzufskoe Sedlo. Cingulum militaire parts were identified as an integral part of the Roman military outfit of offensive and defensive armour, military suite and camp life items of Late Republican – Early Roman period found in a site connected with the culture of local barbarian population of Mountain Taurica.
The study focuses on determinating of details of Roman military belts – pelta-shape buckles, plates, apron studs date by the last quarter of century B.C. – the 1st century A.D. from the sanctuary Gurzufskoe Sedlo. Parts of Roman military equipment were revealed at the sanctuary as deformed one’s, mainly in the form of disconnected parts or, particularly, cut on pieces. It is supposed that the finds of Roman military cingulum details as of all constituent of the Roman military equipment found in the site are the archaeologal evidences of miltary-political activity of elite of local population of Mountain Taurica reflected in written sources. Their inflow to a sanctuary is observed as a military booty, later used in rites as votive offerings by tribe elites of Mountain Taurica with a comission of it’s ritual damage.
Militaria Lussoniensia. Römische Ausrüstungsgegenstände und Schutzwaffen aus Paks-Dunakömlőd / Roman military equipment and defensive weapons from Paks-Dunakömlőd
On the Loessplataeu extending above Paks-Dunakömlőd (on today’s Bottyán-hill) there was a former Roman auxiliary fort called Lussonium. The Roman fort was used since the middle of the 1st century AD until the end of the Roman occupation in Pannonia, until the first third of the 5th century AD. The area of the former fort along the Roman limes was the area of systematic excavations for decades, between 1987 and 2011. Archaeological research could clarify not only the ground plan of the fort, but the inner structure and the chronology of its construction phases as well. A large number of finds were brought to light, artefacts belonging to the equipment and armament of the Roman army played a special role to interpret important aspects of the Roman provincial military history and weapon typology and chronology.The lecture presents militaria from Lussonium. In addition to old finds, newly identified pieces of military equipment and defensive weapons, further selected types of finds and artefacts will be analyzed. The rich material (including a Intercisa type helmet fragment, and a helmet fitting with christogram representation) is examined by means of an antiquarian analysis of the typological view taking into account the local archaeological context. The material presented from the fort Lussonium will be compared with another military finds found along the ripa Pannonica and they will be contextualized regarding the phases of Roman military history.
Inscriptions and stamps on Roman weapons and military equipment from the Serbian part of Limes
Jelena Lj. Cvijetić, Ivana D. Kosanović
The presentation is dedicated to the rare examples of the inscribed and stamped weapons and military equipment from the Serbian part of Limes, i.e. provinces of Pannonia Inferior and Moesia Superior or later Pannonia Secunda and Moesia Prima.
We are familiar with circa twenty finds of helmets, swords, spears, slights, parts of military equipment and horse gear, but also with an extraordinary specimen of parade armour, which belonged to the troops stationed on the Roman Limes in Serbia during the Principate and early Dominate.
Analyses of the rare seals, that is, of their inscriptions, provide important data on the character of fabricae (state fabricae, military camp`s officinae, fabricate privatae). On the other hand, punctured and engraved inscriptions on weapons and military equipment are more common and contain more information about the owner, such as personal name, name of the unit (centuria, cohors), name of the superior officer, and in some cases name of the armourer, which could indicate his possible origin and indirectly the place of manufacture.
Stamps and inscriptions on arms and military equipment from the Serbian part of Limes could provide significant facts important for the study of Roman weapon production and distribution of the units settled in this part of the Roman Empire.
Considerations on the formation and location of military equipment find concentrations in Roman forts stimulated by an armour assemblage from Brigantium/Bregenz (Austria)
In 1908, ten iron military equipment items were discovered together in Brigantium/Bregenz (Austria). The functional composition of this assemblage is exceptional, since eight of the pieces appertain to the category of armour, representing parts of shields and helmets. Among them are fragments of four or five shield bosses of rectangular scuta. This is the largest ensemble of this archaeologically rare type of umbo hitherto known: in his catalogue work on Roman shields, A. Nabbefeld listed no more than 14 examples of this shield bosstype (excluding the parade bosses with attached bust), restricted to the curved rectangular scutum. The majority of the objects concerned with known provenance derives from legionary fortresses (Carnuntum, Vindonissa, Aquincum) and from forts or garrison towns, in which the presence of legionaries is presumed or at least quite likely (Iža, Dura Europos and new Bregenz).
The presented objects from Bregenz are probably preserved because they were burnt and therefore the material could not be recycled. The typological dating of the shield bosses indicates that they were buried during the dismantling of the fort in Brigantium in the early Claudian Period or shortly before. Owed to their discovery in the early 20th century, both the kind of feature and the building context, from which the finds derive, are obscure. Due to the location within the fort, it seems most likely that a barrack or a magazine building situated along the via principalis can be located at the findspot. This raises the question about the kind of buildings, in which the military equipment usually was stored. As part of the individual equipment, the weapons and armour in use normally were kept in the arma of the barrack buildings. Otherwise special armouries (armamentaria) probably functioned as repositories of those pieces of military equipment which were in general ownership by the troops (not of the individual soldier), and of reserve material or disused weapons destined for recycling. The paper aims to present and discuss the military equipment assemblage from Bregenz in comparison with similar find complexes from other forts and fortresses (e. g. Köln-Alteburg, Künzing, Carnuntum and Valkenburg) in order to illustrate the current state of knowledge concerning the formation and location of military equipment find concentrations in Roman forts.
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