33. General Session I

33. General Session I

Session Chair: Dr. Harry van Enckevort
Affiliation: Municipality of Nijmegen, The Netherlands

Session abstract: The general session will deal with subjects that do not fit into the other sessions because of the issues raised.  Given the importance of these subjects, they deserve a place on the congress programme. Therefore, this session offers a wide range of interesting papers.

Time Presenter (s) Presentation
09.00  Paul Kessener The Roman Aqueduct of Noviomagus
09.20 Dmitry Karelin Depictions of Fortifications in Roman Art as source for their reconstructions
09.40 Esperanza Martin Hernandez Evidence of practice camps in Hispania: The Legio military complex
10.00 Željko Miletić The last legion on the Limes Delmaticus – VIII Augusta
10.50 Martijn Wijnhoven Semi-rigid scale armor. New insights into a classical Roman armor through a systematic study of the evidence
11.10 Jared Kreiner Challenges for Auxilia Veterans in Going Home
11.30 Eberhard Sauer Alchester: Life in a fortress of the AD 40s
11.50 Harry van Enckevort Adjournment

The Roman Aqueduct of Noviomagus
Paul Kessener, Radboud University / independent researcher

Although since over a century it had been thought from the existence of man-made valleys to the east of the modern town of Nijmegen (the ancient valleys Kerstendal and Louisedal) that an aqueduct provided Noviomagus with water, it is only in the 1990’s that a first attempt was made to envisage a route map. When from additional investigation it appeared that water could have flown only in reverse direction a new route map was set out that unexpectedly included three unexplained earthern dams and a shallow ditch in the woods to the east (Cortendijk, Swartendijk, Broerdijk, ditch Marienbosch). This led to a research project initiated by the Dutch Cultural Heritage Agency (RCE) followed by publications in 2005 and 2011, concluding that the investigated route plus the earthen artifacts were in all probability related to an aqueduct running from springs in Berg en Dal to the Roman Castra on the Hunerberg at Nijmegen, although no physical remains of a water channel had been found. Subsequently the route was given the status of Rijks Monument. However, because of the ‘non-existing’ channel doubts arose, leading to speculative articles in local and national press. Then, in 2017 RAAP published a report on behalf of the (successful) application for the Lower German Limes to be accepted in the Unesco World Heritage Program, with additional supportive arguments about the presumed Noviomagus aqueduct. Finally, in 2020 – by pure chance – a section of the aqueduct on the spot where its route was envisaged came to light, eliminating any doubts about the historical water way, its channel thought made of wood. The 5 km Noviomagus Aqueduct for the Flavian Castra at Nijmegen is the largest still visible monument of the Roman Limes in the Netherlands.

Depictions of Fortifications in Roman Art as source for their reconstructions
Dmitry Karelin, Moscow Institute of Architecture (State Academy), Alexandra Medennikova, Pontificio Istituto di Archeologia Cristiana

Paper based on the same material, but mainly deducated to the pequliarities of these masterpieces of art shold be presented in confernce “Actual Problems of Theory and History of Art IX” in Saint-Petersburg (25-30th of October 2020). The main topic of Limes paper is examination of these depiction as sources for reconstruction. We will not touch this topic in Saint-Petersburg conference, or will touch very briefly. That is why our answer is “No”. Abstract of Paper (max 300 words):: There are many examples of fortifications’ depictions in Roman art. The goals of this paper are to classify the examined depictions, to analyze their features and meanings and to reveal the details of the fortresses’ architecture, about which there is little information in the archaeological databases. The depictions can be divided into several types according to the branch of visual art and the objects containing the depictions. Simplified axonometric views of whole cities or frontal elevations of gates depicted on coins, medals and in codices. Models imitating Roman forts: ceramic incense burner (Egyptian museum, Turin), clay model of a watch-tower (History museum, Regensburg) and two rectangular bronze braziers. The first one looks like a small square castellum with an open courtyard, and the second one is shaped like a round tower or a Roman mausoleum. Depictions in frescoes and mosaics. There are two main types: the depictions of cities or gates which are close to those on coins and in codices, and floor mosaics with the images of square wall enclosures often connected with labyrinths. Belt buckles shaped like gates. One of them (middle of III century), which was found near Abritus, is of particular interest. Sculptural depictions. They are the reliefs in the Trajan’s Column and the Column of Marcus Aurelius, the city wall’s depiction from Tabula iliaca, the so-called city-gate sarcophagi and early Christian ivory reliefs depicting cities’ walls as architectural backgrounds. The examined examples contain important information about the design of the Roman military architecture. For example, one can see either flat roofs of the towers convenient for artillery, or considerable variations of towers’ tops: cone-shaped, small domes etc., even rotundas. There are also some depictions of the galleries on the walls’ and gate’s tops and the others peculiar features.

Evidences of practice camps in Hispania: the Legio military complex
Esperanza Martin Hernandez on behalf of Angel Morillo, Complutense University (Madrid), Brais Curras, Almudena Orejas, IH-CSIC, Agostino Nobilini

Finished the conquest of Hispania, a military policy based on long-term occupation was established. The deployment of the Roman Army in the northwest of the Iberian Peninsula was maintained during centuries. Military field training on castrametation and manoeuvres were undoubtedly habitual activities of the troops and part of their disciplina, as is known from literary sources. In this paper we present archaeological evidence of practice camps in Hispania. We pay special attention to the new complex of San Andrés de Rabanedo/León, in the surroundings of legionary fortress of Legio (León). Research based on remote sensing techniques (historical aerial photography and LiDAR) and fieldwork has allowed identifying up to 18 Roman military camps. Here we propose an interpretation as practice camps, arranged on a flat platform, with a great visual dominance over the Bernesga valley and the legionary fortress. Some of these practice camps are partially preserved, they show different orientations but all of them share the typical rectangular plan with rounded corners. They are located 4 km from the place occupied successively by legio VI victrix and legio VII gemina. The camps are also placed around the Roman road from Legio (León) to Asturica Augusta (Astorga). After the analysis of the Legio military complex, here we propose a model for the archaeological characterization of entrenchment camps, which can also be observed in other Spanish military sites such as Villamontán or Castrocalbón. Proximity to a military legionary fortresses and the relationship with the road system seem to be definitive elements. The existence of unfinished camps or the construction of different sizes and orientations are also indicative features. Several similar clusters are known throughout the Empire, especially in Northern provinces.

The last legion on the Limes Delmaticus – VIII Augusta
Željko Miletić, University of Zadar Department of Archaeology, Silvia Bekavac, University of Zadar Department of Art History

Recent archaeological research has provided arguments in support of the thesis that a vexillatio of LEG VIII Augusta was stationed in the area of the Burnum on the Limes Delmaticus, after Leg IIII Flavia Felix left Dalmatia for Domitian’s Dacian War. In the layers from the first construction phase of the military training camp (campus) from Claudius’ time, there are tegulae with the LEG XI CPF stamp, and in the second with the LEG VIII AVG stamp. Intensive brick production, and thus construction activity of the unit indicates that the possible reason for stationing the legion (or one its vexillatio judging by only the few tombstones of active soldiers) in Burnum is the logistical preparation for Trajan’s campaign in the Second Dacian War. Food, water, and an accommodation were to be provided for the Praetorian cohorts and the manpower and livestock of the expeditionary army on their way through the province of Dalmatia. In Trajan’s period, a water supply facility was built in Iader with the funds of the imperial fisc. An unknown military building whose roof was covered with tiles of the VIII Legion once stood in the municipium of Asseria, and a military training ground was renovated in Burnum. One of the few scenes on Trajan’s Column depicting a journey through Dalmatia takes place in Burnum. Part of the retinue that welcomes Emperor Trajan, who arrives from the colony of Iader via the municipium of Asseria, are two soldiers depicted in a stylized fortress in one episode on Trajan’s Column. The authors recognize them as legionaries of Legio VIII Augusta. At the latest after the end of the 2nd Dacian War, with the departure of the VIII Legion, Dalmatia became a provincial inermis.

Semi-rigid scale armour. New insights into a classical Roman armour through a systematic study of the evidence
Martijn A. Wijnhoven, Vrije Universiteit Amsterdam

Scale armour had already been around for centuries when the Roman army started using it. The army soon made it their own, modifying and perfecting it to their particular needs in warfare. One such adaptation was the introduction of semi-rigid scale armour during the Antonine period. Instead of having to rely upon the scales being fastened to a base-garment, the scales were now permanently fixed to each other by metal wire. The gain was a much more stable armour, less prone to wear or accidental loss of scales. However, as indicated by its name, the new armour type was also much less flexible. Although the concept of semi-rigid armour is familiar to most specialists, not much else is known. The main culprit is a lack of systematic study that takes into account the entire body of evidence, instead of focusing upon one or several archaeological finds. This paper will demonstrate that there are many insights to be gained by adopting such an approach.

Challenges for Auxilia Veterans in Going Home
Jared Kreiner, Christopher Newport University

The question of veteran settlement, especially of former legionaries, is widely discussed in Roman military studies. These discussions have largely focused on the question of where veterans tended to settle, in the frontier zone near military camps or in their homelands. For the former, in addition to statistical analysis of inscriptions and military diplomas, scholars have frequently assessed the positive reasons for veterans staying near where they had served, namely that these frontier zones are what former soldiers had known for most of their adult life, their potential business connections, and an unwillingness to uproot their families. Little, however, has been stated concerning the potential negative reasons for veterans of auxilia units deciding to not return to their homelands. My paper addresses this gap by examining challenges veterans of the auxilia could have faced when they served at great distances from their homeland. Specifically, in my paper, I will be looking at potential financial and travel challenges auxiliary veterans could face in the early Principate in order to shed more light on choices of veteran settlement. I argue that rank and file auxilia veterans requiring long-distance travel to go home, especially across seas or several provinces, encountered significant financial and travel related issues and dangers, namely the risks and costs of long-distance travel in light of no discharge bonuses and low pay rate compared to officers and legionaries, questions of geographical knowledge, as well as physical limitations if they were wounded or impaired. In conclusion, this paper, by closely examining the question could they actually get home, sheds new light on rarely acknowledged issues in veterans’ decisions of where to settle upon retirement.

Alchester: Life in a fortress of the AD 40s
Eberhard Sauer, Edinburgh University

Alchester, some 15km north of Oxford, has yielded Britain’s earliest Roman tree-ring dates (of autumn AD 44), early evidence for the import of new foodstuffs, such as millet, and a tombstone of a veteran of Legio II Augusta. Whilst these highlights are now well known, post-excavation has yielded a wealth of new insights into this pivotal base at the heart of the Midlands. Much progress has been made in analysing the copious small finds and their spatial distribution over the trenches in the main fortress and annexe. Iron Age coins were used as small change alongside Roman currency and an Iron Age wine-strainer was used to prepare a Mediterranean-style beverage. Yet, whilst there is much evidence for close economic exchange with local communities, the garrison took no chances and defended the approaches to the fortress with sharpened stakes – a feature commonly found in contested territory more than in pacified lands. The exact location of most pieces of armour and weaponry has been recorded and their spatial distribution sheds new light on the garrison. A cache of phalerae and a chamfrons, stripped off most of their silver, from the defensive ditches raises questions as to the circumstances that led to concealment. The fortress boasted a flowing water supply, mirroring similar infrastructure at forts in Germany. A site of technical innovation at a major crossroads, it evolved after withdrawal of the army into the largest town in the area – no doubt a result of many veterans staying behind. Being of similar date as, and with many architectural parallels to, mid-first-century military sites on the Lower Rhine, such as the fort and fortress at Valkenburg, Alchester should be of great interest to participants at the Nijmegen Limes Congress.