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Go Back   Armchair General and HistoryNet >> The Best Forums in History > Historical Events & Eras > Warfare Through the Ages > The Ancient Era

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The Ancient Era Discuss Ancient Warfare! Romans, Carthaginians, Greeks, etc.

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  #16  
Old 14 Sep 17, 09:51
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Originally Posted by Snowygerry View Post
Well I wonder -

I imagine it would be much the same as Sunni Iraqi trying to dress down as a Shiite Iraqi, or growing a beard and join IS.

Doable - as long as no one thoroughly questions your identity.



For your information large numbers of Sunni and Shiite in the ME have beards. A rich Shiite will dress as well as a rich Sunni and a poor Sunni can look just as bad as a poor Shiite. In Iraq there were more rich Sunni than Shiites as the former were the ruling elite under Saddam but the boot had been on other other foot once and probably is so again.

Amongst the ancient tribes of Britain and North West Europe tribal identity was denoted by tattoo rather than dress - making disguise rather difficult. Moreover the British tribesmen were noted for having clean shaven chins and very long moustaches. Legionnaires would either be clean shaven or heavily stubbled or with short beards. Rather difficult to acquire a large moustache at a moments notice.
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  #17  
Old 14 Sep 17, 10:09
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Originally Posted by MarkV View Post
For your information large numbers of Sunni and Shiite in the ME have beards. A rich Shiite will dress as well as a rich Sunni and a poor Sunni can look just as bad as a poor Shiite. In Iraq there were more rich Sunni than Shiites as the former were the ruling elite under Saddam but the boot had been on other other foot once and probably is so again.
Seriously ?

So you rule out the idea that foreign Roman soldiers would try to appear "less Roman" while making their escape from a remote outpost in the face of what must have appeared like the collapse of an existing world order ?

The Roman gear was a "uniform" as much as practical equipment and no doubt people with tribal tattoos fought in the Roman army.

As stated, just trying to come up with an explanation for the evidence so far found...
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Old 14 Sep 17, 13:49
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Originally Posted by Snowygerry View Post
Seriously ?

So you rule out the idea that foreign Roman soldiers would try to appear "less Roman" while making their escape from a remote outpost in the face of what must have appeared like the collapse of an existing world order ?

The Roman gear was a "uniform" as much as practical equipment and no doubt people with tribal tattoos fought in the Roman army.

As stated, just trying to come up with an explanation for the evidence so far found...
Nationhood and nationality was not an understood concept then. There is certainly evidence round where I live that even before the Romans arrived the tribes fought like ferrets in a sack and to blend in you would have to have the right tribal tattoo, having the wrong one would not be healthy. Whether you'd served in the Roman army or not would be a mere bagatelle what mattered was that you were not one of the people - an outsider. The Romans were always very careful not to mix tribes and not to deploy soldiers in their own home territory. In the situation you describe the best chance of survival would be to stick together. It wouldn't matter if you were identifiable as a Roman soldier or not and Roman armour and equipment would still give you a better chance of survival.
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Old 14 Sep 17, 14:07
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Using troops from parts of the empire to police other parts is a common practice in successful empires down the ages. Indian and African troops policed large areas of the British Empire outside of their own homelands. Indeed between the end of the South African war and the outbreak of WW1 all those outbreaks of trouble that had required military intervention had been handled by Indian and African units. The Germans after Mons ascribed the fighting qualities of the BEF to it containing a large number of veterans from colonial wars when in fact it contained few if any with such experience. Likewise the Roman part of the Roman army was largely there to protect Rome.
The 'Roman' part of the Roman army I.e. The Legions, were largely deployed along the frontiers prior the the late Roman army reforms. The Legions were also the core of any major imperial army on campaign. E.g in Dacia as shown on Trajan's column. The Legions had the best kit and were generally better trained and certainly better paid.
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  #20  
Old 14 Sep 17, 17:07
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Hadrian's Wall was a strategic failure. How much money was used protecting Roman territory from relatively few peoples? Better to conquer Scotland like Wales. Rome never impacted upon the Pays de Galles with its usual infra structure. Wales gained increased trade without increased government input, and the Welsh loved them for it. Edward 1 even designed a major PoW castle around the fact that Rome was considered more than decent by the locals in the second millennium AD.
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Old 14 Sep 17, 18:46
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Originally Posted by Nick the Noodle View Post
Hadrian's Wall was a strategic failure. How much money was used protecting Roman territory from relatively few peoples? Better to conquer Scotland like Wales. Rome never impacted upon the Pays de Galles with its usual infra structure. Wales gained increased trade without increased government input, and the Welsh loved them for it. Edward 1 even designed a major PoW castle around the fact that Rome was considered more than decent by the locals in the second millennium AD.
Latest research suggests that it was primarily a form of customs barrier and a means of immigration control -hence all the mile castles with a gate. It was always very thinly manned
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  #22  
Old 15 Sep 17, 05:20
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Originally Posted by Snowygerry View Post
a couple of hundred "Tungrians" (The Belgian settlement would easily melt into the local population if not dressed in Roman garments ?
1) Except for their strong Tungrian accents
2) Newcastle wasn't quite the metropolis it is today, like, pet.
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Old 15 Sep 17, 05:24
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Well they'd have to ride south hard and shut up

But I take your points and those of Mark above, I seem to be alone with my theory...
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Old 15 Sep 17, 08:11
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Wales contained things that the Romans wanted - to wit gold and lead whilst Scotland did not (whisky was yet to be invented). Wales was worth the trouble of occupying but Scotland was not. Even so Wales was very sparsely occupied and there were places where a Roman or a Romanised Briton was never seen. Much of North West Wales appears not to have been occupied. The Romans made sure that they controlled the major river crossings over the Wye and the Severn which secured the more prosperous and profitable parts of Britain from raids by unreconstructed tribesmen and built and garrisoned a few strongholds at strategic points in Wales along with a series of roads connecting them. Otherwise so long as they stayed quiescent most of the inhabitants of what is today Wales was left pretty much to their own devices.

Like Louis XIV centuries later the Imperial Romans were very much in favour of natural frontiers and the boundaries of empire were often along rivers (like the Rhine and Danube), mountain ranges or desert edges. There was no such option for Scotland hence the need for a wall but even where there were rivers as with the frontier with Germany the Romans would still build substantial fortifications but often these were made of timber and earth and so there is much less left today.
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Old 15 Sep 17, 08:18
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Sure, but the fun in archeology is taking the evidence found and weaving a plausible story around it,

"What now could have caused the Roman soldiers on the extreme border of the Empire to leave perfectly usable gear behind ?"

The realistic answer is no doubt - as pointed out above -

"**** happens - now, as it did then..."

But that's no good for a military history board is it
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Old 15 Sep 17, 09:38
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Originally Posted by Snowygerry View Post
Sure, but the fun in archeology is taking the evidence found and weaving a plausible story around it,

"What now could have caused the Roman soldiers on the extreme border of the Empire to leave perfectly usable gear behind ?"

The realistic answer is no doubt - as pointed out above -

"**** happens - now, as it did then..."

But that's no good for a military history board is it
But was it perfectly usable? One sword appears to have been bent. Whilst it doubtless could be straightened by a competent swordsamith using a forge we don't know if one was available on the extreme border of the Empire Trying to do it without the requisite skills would probably ruin the temper of the blade. The other sword is too far corroded to tell what condition it was in when abandoned. Likewise we have copper alloy fittings from saddlery, harness etc but the leather has long since vanished but it might also have been broken.

Nor do we know why the barracks was abandoned. Possibly the unit involved had simply reached the end of their tour of duty on the frontier or were simply being posted to another location on it but either way they may not have seen the point of lugging worn out or broken kit with them. We do know that it was Roman SOP to destroy a camp once it was finished with.
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Old 15 Sep 17, 09:40
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Like Louis XIV centuries later the Imperial Romans were very much in favour of natural frontiers and the boundaries of empire were often along rivers (like the Rhine and Danube), mountain ranges or desert edges. There was no such option for Scotland hence the need for a wall
It's fair to say, I think, that the line of Hadrian' Wall does occupy a distinct geographical boundary, spanning as it does the Solway-Tyne isthmus to run along the trough between the Pennines and the Southern Uplands (such a magical name). It also took advantage locally of the Whin Sill escarpment along its middle section- even if the structure was not intended primarily to serve as a defensive rampart.

Indeed, it seems that occupying this natural hiatus in the high country was deemed important enough that the wall may have divided the northern most reaches of Brigantia from their main territory to the south. 'Scotland' of course, not being even a twinkle in St Mungo's eye at that date. That may , of course, be an indication of how permeable the Wall was in reality and that life went on pretty much as had done before, possibly with additional benefits.

I have read studies that indicate the hinterland to north of the Wall, and also to the south west, was closely bound up in a trade network supplying the garrison with grain and other produce. So its occupants (Brigantes Selgovae Novantes?) had a vested interest in settling down and supporting the occupation of the Tyne-Solway isthmus. The Roman sites immediately to the north of the Wall may to some extent represent an Imperial presence maintained among these people forward of the linear barrier.

The Clyde-Forth isthmus, occupied briefly by the Antonine Wall, was also a distinct geographical boundary, but it was too far north and too easily outflanked by highly mobile, seafaring folk in those latitudes.

On another note: has a study been made of tribal designs among the tribal British of the late Iron Age?

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Old 15 Sep 17, 09:47
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Ah yes the sword is hardly a mystery - but I was in fact answering this post of yours...

Quote:
if the swords were damaged then abandoning them makes more sense but the harness fittings - copper alloy would be relatively expensive and one assumes that they could be reused. In modern times the military in general have had a reputation for being a bit prodigal with material and it would seem had also been so in Roman times. Harness strap broken trooper? Toss it into the heap and draw a new harness set from the quartermaster"
And that imho seems unlikely given the circumstances - and does not suggest a withdrawal in good order.

All speculation obviously - I hope we can get a few more updates later on from the team doing the actual investigation.

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(...)
On another note: has a study been made of tribal designs among the tribal British of the late Iron Age?
Designs of what exactly ?
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Old 15 Sep 17, 09:55
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Wild speculation again. As I said before the military are still notorious for profligacy when it comes to dumping broken equipment and just because the metal fittings are intact doesn't mean that the leather etc was. It may just have been easier to dump the broken kit and draw new ones from store than to salvage the metal.
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Old 15 Sep 17, 10:02
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But then that would suggest that copper alloy wasn't in short supply and was considered disposable.

I readily admit to wild speculation though - as stated
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