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Imperial Rome urban plans

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Site plans of ancient Rome including a site plan of the early settlements on the Seven Hills, a plan of the Capitoline (Platner), and  two general plans of the Imperial city.
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Urban Plans of Caesaraugusta (Roman Saragossa)

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Saragosa

Site Plan of Caesaraugusta  (Roman Saragossa)

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The emperor’s armour: Bronze statue of Hadrian from the legionary camp at Tel Shalem (Judaea), Israel Museum

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Republication from Following Hadrian

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A magnificent bronze statue of Hadrian, now on display at the Israel Museum in Jerusalem, was found by chance by an American tourist in Tel Shalem (Beth Shean Valley, Israel) on 25th July 1975 while searching for ancient coins with a metal detector. Tel Shalem was once occupied by a detachment of the Sixth Roman Legion (Legio VI Ferrata). The 50 fragments of this statue were found in a building which stood at the center of the camp, perhaps in the principia (the headquarters tent or building).

Bronze statue of Hadrian, found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, 117–138 AD, Israel Museum, Jerusalem © Carole Raddato

Bronze statue of Hadrian, found at the Camp of the Sixth Roman Legion in Tel Shalem, Israel Museum, Jerusalem
© Carole Raddato

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The Weapon That Changed History

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Republication from the Archaeology Magazine

 

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Roman legionaries board on a Carthaginian warship during the First Punic War. Artwork by Peter Connolly.

by Andrew Curry

Evidence of Rome’s decisive victory over Carthage is discovered in the waters off Sicily

In his work The Histories, the second-century B.C. Greek historian Polybius chronicles the rise of the Romans as they battled for control of the Mediterranean. The central struggle pits the Romans against their archenemies the Carthaginians, a trading superpower based in North Africa. For 23 years, beginning in 264 B.C., the two rivals fought what became known as the First Punic War.

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Dutch archaeologists discover the location of Caesar’s battle and massacre on the Tencteri and Usipetes tribes

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Republication from the VU University of Amsterdam

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Hundreds of skulls and other bones, considered to belong to the massacred Germanics were found in the excavated location (credit: VU University of Amsterdam).

VU archaeologists discover location of historic battle fought by Caesar in Dutch river area

Earliest known battle on Dutch soil.

At a press conference held on Friday 11 December in the Allard Pierson Museum in Amsterdam, archaeologist Nico Roymans from the VU Amsterdam announced a discovery that is truly unique for Dutch archaeology: the location where the Roman general and statesman Julius Caesar massacred two Germanic tribes in the year 55 BC. The location of this battle, which Caesar wrote about in detail in Book IV of his De Bello Gallico, was unknown to date. It is the earliest known battle on Dutch soil. The conclusions are based on a combination of historical, archaeological, and geochemical data.

Skeletal remains, swords and spearheads
It is the first time that the presence of Caesar and his troops in Dutch territory has been explicitly proven. The finds from this battle include large numbers of skeletal remains, swords, spearheads, and a helmet. The two Germanic tribes, the Tencteri and the Usipetes, originated in the area east of the Rhine and had explicitly appealed to Caesar for asylum. Caesar rejected this request for asylum and ordered his troops to destroy the tribes by violent means. Nowadays, we would label such action genocide.
During the press conference, Roymans described in detail the discoveries made in Kessel (North Brabant) and their historical significance. He also showed weapons and skeletal remains from this battle.

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MIDDLE BYZANTINE (EAST ROMAN) GENERIC TACTICS AND STRATEGY (Part I)

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Skylitzes
A battle between Byzantine and Arab cavalry, from the Madrid Skylitzes manuscript (late 13th century, but representative enough of the late phase of the Middle Period). A bloody fighting is taking place with decapitations and troopers trampled by the horses. Byzantines and Muslims alike wear mostly scale armor
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By Periklis Deligiannis
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The Middle Byzantine Age (7th-12th c. AD) was decisive for the history of the Byzantine Empire. The loss of the Middle Eastern provinces and Egypt by the invading Arabs marks its beginnings, but the “hard core” of the Empire managed to halt the forces of the invaders at the eastern border of Asia Minor, and additionally the forces of the numerous Avaro-Slavic and Proto-Bulgarian (and other Later Hunnic nomad) raiders at the Balkan borders. The experienced Byzantine Army being after all the descedant of the Roman Imperial Army, went on dealing effectively with the pressure by the same enemies and also by the Lombards (Longobards) and the Franks in Italy and some new nomadic peoples on the borders of the Balkan peninsula (Byzantine Sicily and Northwest Africa (modern Maghreb) were finally conquered by the Arabs). Its strengthening during the reign of the emperor Nikephoros Phokas (963-969) led to a strong imperial counterattack on all fronts ending in major territorial recoveries of the “Byzantine Epic Era” (this term has been used by the modern historical research, to denote the period around 963-1025 AD).

However, the fatigue of the army because of the war effort, and especially its neglect due to a series of weak emperors and the civil strife during the fifty years which followed the brilliant reign of Basil II (976-1025) to the Battle of Manzikert (AD 1071) and after that, led to its rapid weakening. Finally, new dangerous enemies, the Seljuq Turks in Asia Minor and the Normans in Italy and the Balkan Peninsula, gave decisive blows to the Empire. The renowned Byzantine army never managed to recover from the disaster of Manzikert, despite the best efforts of some emperors and some temporary military successes. The parallel decline of the Thematic administrative and military organization of the state which declined after the battle of Manzikert and was eventually abolished, had an additional negative role in the weakening of the army. The imperial defense was further weakened, leading to the capture of Constantinople by the Crusaders in 1204.

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TWILIGHT OF THE MACEDONIAN PHALANX

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

Thraco-Phrygian2

A  Thraco-Phrygian  helmet, characeristic of the pezetairoi (pikemen) of the Macedonian phalanx.

sarissa

Spear-heads from 3rd-1st cent. BC Greece, probably originally parts of sarissae (the sarissa was the main weapon of the Macedonian phalanx).

The  Macedonian  phalanx  and  the  ‘manipula’  of  the  Roman  legion  were  the  two  most  successful  battle  formations  of  Antiquity.  The  Macedonian-type  phalanx  of  pikemen  (pezetairoi  in  Greek)  was  founded  by  Philip  II  of  Macedonia  in  the  mid-fourth  century  BC,  when  he  was  influenced  deeply  by  the  military  innovations  of  the  Athenian  general  Iphicrates  and  the  Theban  general  Epaminondas.  The  Macedonian-type  phalanx  had  a  great  course  in  history.  The  Macedonians  were  those  who  used  it  for  the  first  time,  and  then  bequeathed  it  to  the  Greek/Hellenistic  Kingdoms  that  finally  formed  after  the  disintegration  of  the  Empire  of  Alexander  the  Great.  Thus,  the  Macedonian-type  phalanx  was  used  by  the  Antigonid,  Lysimachid,  Seleucid,  Ptolemaic  and  Attalid  (Pergamene)  Greeks  and  also  by  the  Greek  Kingdoms  of  Bactria  and  India,  the  Hellenized  Kingdom  of  Pontus  and  other  lesser  Greek  and  Hellenized  states  of  the  Middle  East.  In  mainland Greece,  the  Epirotes,  the  Achaeans,  the  Boeotians  and  the  Spartans  formed  at  different  times,  their  heavy  infantry  as  Macedonian-type  phalanxes.  On the other hand,  the  Athenians  and  the  other  Greeks  of  mainland Greece,  and  also  the  Greeks  of  Sicily, Italy,  Gaul-Iberia  (Marseille/Massalia  and  its  colonies),  Cyrenaica  (modern  eastern Libya)  and  the  northern  Black  Sea,  never  adopted  this  type  of  phalanx.  Only  the  Tarantines  of  Magna  Graecia  formed  a  short-lived  Macedonian-type  phalanx  (leukaspis)  led  by  Pyrrhus  of  Epirus.

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ON THE HELMET TYPES OF THE LATE ROMAN CAVALRY

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By Periklis Deligiannis

with draco(Fectio)
A Draconarius of the Late Roman period with a Persian-origin type of helmet, in a restoration by the British Historical Association Comitatus (Draco made by the German artisan Stefan Jaroschinski). He is a standard-bearer, bearing the Sarmatian standard of the Dragon, adopted by the Romans as well.
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During the Late Imperial period, the cavalry gradually became the main Weapon of the Roman army supplanting the legions, the glory of Rome. This development was due to the influence of the Iranian peoples (Sarmatians and Persians) and especially to the Roman need to confront the enemies who had a strong cavalry which could defeat the legions (Sarmatians, Sassanids, Goths, Huns). The Roman cavalry helmets of the period belonged to the following four major groups.

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LATE GALLO-ROMAN

classic

The classic Gallo-Roman type of a Middle Empire legionnaire (www.romancoins.info)
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ITALO-CORINTHIAΝ AND OSCO-ATTIC HELMETS: The Evolution of the Greek Helmets in ITALY (8th-1st cent.BC)

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By Periklis  Deligiannis

South_Italy An  Osco-Attic  helmet  of  the  Lucanians  with  many  characteristic  Oscan  novelties.

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Etruscan  hoplites  of  Tarquinia  with  Greek  arms  and  armour,  4th  century  BC.  The  hoplite  on  the  right  wears  a  proper  Attic  helmet.  The  left  one  wears  a  mixed  Phrygo-Attic  helmet.

The  peoples  of  ancient  Italy,  firstly  the  Etruscans  and  the  Iapyges  (later  known  as  ‘Apulians’),  used  almost  all  types  of  the  Archaic,  Classical  and  Hellenistic  Greek  helmets:  the  Corinthian,  the  Chalkidean,  the  Attic (Athenian),  the  Boeotian  (for  the  cavalry)  and  later  the  Thracian,  the  Phrygian  and  all  the  Hellenistic  types.  They  had  particular  preference  for  the  first  three  types.  In  this  article, I  will  deal  specifically  with  two  types  of  helmets  in  Italy  which  originated  from  the  evolution  of  the  original  Greek  respective  ones:  the  Italo-Corinthian  and  the  Italo-Attic  or  Osco-Attic  helmet  (in  fact,  the  Osco-Attic  is  the  main  variety  of  the  Italo-Attic  group  of  helmets).
The  Italo-Corinthian  helmet  (also  known  as  Pseudo-Corinthian,  Apulo-Corinthian  or  Etrusco-Corinthian  )  was  born  out  of  the  habit  of  the  warriors  of  Italy  to  wear  their  Corinthian  helmet  raised,  even  when  the  battle  began.  Because  of  this,  the  protective  visor  gradually  evolved  into  a  decorative  ‘pseudo-visor’  while  the  helmet  was  manufactured  in  a  manner  that  did  not  cover  the  face  anymore.  In  the  later  centuries,  Attic-type  cheek-protectors  were  added  in  it.

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The face of mock battles – images of Roman cavalry helmets from Germania Inferior

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I recently resumed my travels on the Limes Germanicus and headed north along Rome’s frontier in the Roman province of Germania Inferior. The Lower Germanic Limes extended from the North Sea at Katwijk in the Netherlands to Bonna along the Lower Rhine. Numerous museums with impressive collections of Roman artefacts can be found by the Limes road. Among the masterpieces on display are the face mask helmets, also called cavalry sports helmets.

One such helmet was found at the site of the Battle of the Teutoburg Forest, where three Roman legions were wiped out by the Germanic tribes in 9 AD. This face mask originally belonged to a helmet of a Roman cavalry man. It is composed of an iron basis and sheet-silver applied to the surface. After the battle the valuable sheet-silver was cut off and hastily taken by Germanic ponderers.

Kalkriese face mask for Roman cavalry helmet, Museum und Park Kalkriese, Germany © Carole Raddato

Kalkriese face mask for Roman cavalry helmet, Museum und Park Kalkriese (Germany)
© Carole Raddato

According to Arrian of Nicomedia, a Roman provincial governor and a close friend of Hadrian, face mask helmets were used in cavalry parades and sporting mock battles called “hippika gymnasia”. Parades or tournaments played an important part in maintaining unit morale and fighting effectiveness. They took place on a parade ground situated outside a fort and involved the cavalry practicing manoeuvring and the handling of weapons such as javelins and spears (Fields, Nic; Hook, Adam. Roman auxiliary cavalryman: AD 14-193).

Calvary helmets were made from a variety of metals and alloys, often from gold-coloured alloys or iron covered with tin. They were decorated with embossed reliefs and engravings depicting the war god Mars and other divine and semi-divine figures associated with the military.

Below are some examples of face mask helmets to be found in the museums of Germania Inferior.

The Nijmegen cavalry helmet, an iron mask sheathed in bronze and silver discovered in 1915 on the left bank of the Waal river near Nijmegen, second half of the first century, Museum het Valkhof, Nijmegen (Netherlands) © Carole Raddato

The Nijmegen cavalry helmet, second half of the first century, Museum het Valkhof, Nijmegen (The Netherlands)
© Carole Raddato

The Nijmegen helmet above is a cavalry display helmet that was found in the gravel on the left bank of the Waal river south of Nijmegen in 1915. It dates to the 1st century A.D., probably the latter half; the busts are Flavian in style, so from between 69 and 96 A.D.

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LIBER HOMO LIBERI POPULI: DUMNORΙΧ OF THE AEDUI AGAINST CAESAR AND ROME (PART II)

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 By  Periklis    Deligiannisvercingetorix 

Vercingetorix  (statue)  was   influenced  by  Dumnorix’s  policy  and  tragic  death.

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By  Periklis    Deligiannis

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CONTINUED FROM PART  I

In  the  subsequent  years,  Caesar  conducted  his  famous  Conquest  of  Gaul,  crashing  the  Suebi  of  Ariovistus  and  the  Belgians.  After  the  Roman  victory  over  the  Belgians,  Diviciacus,  the  main  supporter  of  the  Gallic  collaboration  with  Rome,  disappears  from  Caesar’s  narrative.  Liscus  also  disappears  from  his  narrative  but  this  is  explainable  because  he  probably  could  not  be  the  Aeduan  Vergobretus  any  more.  After  all  he  rather  gained  his  office  with  Diviciacus’  political  support  (the  latter  was  the  unofficial  leader  of  the  tribe).  Diviciacus’  disappearance  is  the  real  mystery. 

  Diviciacus  probably  did  not  believe  that  the  Gauls  could  cope  with  the  dual  military  pressure  of  the  Romans  and  the  Germans,  and  he  preferred  the  former.  Apart  from  his  decisive  diplomatic  and  counseling  assistance  to  Caesar,  he  was  the  main  founder  of  his  numerous  allied  Gallic  cavalry.  The  antithesis  of  Diviciacus  was  Dumnorix,  who  believed  in  Gallic  power  and  did  everything  for  the  freedom  of  his  people.  Dumnorix  appears  later  as  the  main  political  leader  of  the  Aedui  (and  possibly  their  Vergobretus)  when  he  was  Caesar’s  hostage.  The  most  likely  hypothesis  for  Diviciacus’  “disappearance”  in  57  BC  was  either  his  physical  death,  or  his  murder  possibly  by  Dumnorix’s  incitation.  Then  or  a  little  later,  Dumnorix  succeeded  him  in  the  unofficial  leadership  of  the  Aedui. 

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