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Tag: Roman

Mice of Pompeii

Mice of Pompeii

The plaster cast figures from Pompeii are pretty famous. The casts are made by pouring plaster into hollows left in the ash by an item that has decomposed (like bodies, wood, etc.). The resulting figures capture the expressions and last moments of the people who were killed by the eruption of Vesuvius in 79CE.

A snippet of a documentary shows the mice from Pompeii captured using the same plaster technique developed by Fiorelli:

On a side note, it’s interesting to read the recounting of the eruption in letters from Pliny the Elder to Tacitus.

Archaeology stories from Digg

Archaeology stories from Digg

December 23rd edition

2000 year old Bronze Horse Head Found In Germany
Frankfurt Scientists say a Roman horse head made from bronze and plated in gold has been discovered at an archaeological site in Germany.

Domestic Horse Ridden Further Back in Time
People were riding horses much earlier than previously thought, new archaeological finds suggest.

Ancient seed sprouts plant from the past – Hurriyet Daily News
A 4,000-year-old lentil seed unearthed in an archeological excavation has successfully germinated after being planted.

Who Wrote the Dead Sea Scrolls?
Resolving the dispute over authorship of the ancient manuscripts could have far-reaching implications for Christianity and Judaism.

Shrine to Jupiter found at Vindolanda

Shrine to Jupiter found at Vindolanda

Found a link to the article below on Archaeological News. Amazing find! I’d love to be able to see it.

To my friend on the right side of the pond — if you get to visit the site, send me a picture? — ONE of the most important artefacts ever unearthed at the Vindolanda Roman site near Bardon Mill could also be the heaviest. The 1.5 tonne altar depicts Jupiter riding a bull and wielding an axe and thunderbolt. The inscription was dedicated by Sulpicius Pudens, prefect of the Fourth Cohort of Gauls.

Archaeological Dig Uncovers Roman Mystery

Archaeological Dig Uncovers Roman Mystery

Even though this find is later than my own period of interest (100 BCE to 400 CE), there are some interesting elements described.

University of British Columbia archaeologists have dug up a mystery worthy of Indiana Jones, one that includes a tomb, skeletons and burial rites with both Christian and pagan elements.

read more | digg story

Full Sized Roman Siege Ballista for Sale on eBay!

Full Sized Roman Siege Ballista for Sale on eBay!

From the builders of this unique offering:

As timber engineers, we do get asked to build a lot of unusual things – things which other framing companies couldn’t even attempt. This was, perhaps, one of the more unusual.
The ballista was successfully built and managed to fire a very heavy stone ball some 127 yards. (Remember, these things used to successfully lay siege to entire cities.)

read more | digg story

Also a YouTube video of the Ballista being build and fired:

Recent Books on Equine Archaeology/History

Recent Books on Equine Archaeology/History

I’ve been looking for current publications on equine archaeology and history. You would be surprised what is out there! I found four books that covered proceedings from the International Council for Archaeozoology meeting in Durham, UK, 2002. It sounds like it would have been an awesome conference.

Equids in time and space, edited by Marjan Mashkour (2006). From the description: “There are methodological as well as historical chapters dealing with problems ranging from the earliest purported evidence for domestication, to the role of horses in the classical periods; the geographic scope is also vast, spanning Portugal to China, and Siberia to Africa.”

The First Steps of Animal Domestication edited by J D Vigne, J Peters and D Helmer (2005).

Behaviour Behind Bones: The zooarchaeology of ritual, religion, status and identity, edited by Sharyn Jones O’Day, Wim Van Neer and Anton Ervynck (2003).

The books below were also listed in the Oxbow Books catalog, but were not ones I would purchase just yet. Sorely tempted by both of the books, but not by their prices. Yikes.

Horses and Humans: the Evolution of Human/Equine Relationships edited by Sandra L. Olsen (2000).

An Atlas for Celtic Studies: Archaeology and Names in Ancient Europe and Early Medieval Britain and Brittany by John T Koch, in collaboration with Raimund Karl, Antone Minard and Simon O’Faolain. ($100) An Atlas of Celtic Studies is a unique and comprehensive reference book that presents a huge amount of information on what is known about the Celts in Europe in the form of detailed maps. It combines thousands of Celtic place- and group names, as well as Celtic inscriptions and other mappable linguistic evidence.

While I was looking through books that have recently been published, I also checked the ones I have on the book case.

Early Riders: Beginnings of Mounted Warfare in Asia and Europe by Robert Drews (2004). “In this controversial study of when, where and why military riding first took place, Drew refutes and disproves claims that date back to c.4000 BC. Instead, he presents evidence that, even though accomplished riding was in existence much earlier, military riding did not take place until c.900 BC.”

The Horse in the Ancient World by Ann Hyland (2003). Ann Hyland is best known for her studies of the horse in the Middle Ages but here she looks further back to the ancient world of Babylonia, Assyria, Persia, Egypt and Greece.

Equus: The Horse in the Roman World by Ann Hyland (1990). Published by Yale University Press.

Training the Roman Cavalry: Ars Tactica by Ann Hylander (1993). Published by Sutton Pub Ltd.

Plus about five other books on the Roman cavalry tactics, equipment, units and placement throughout the Roman empire.

Additional Roman Saddle Info

Additional Roman Saddle Info

I emailed Deepeeka about their saddle. They are incredibly cheap (for a saddle, at least) — under $200 US. However, you have to order at least two. So very tempted! My coauthor suggested doing more research and sent me some good links to consider. I could end up with an expensive display piece. (Although I suppose that is what my side saddle is — it doesn’t fit my mare but it sure is purty.)

The Roman Army Talk forum has several great discussions on Roman cavalry saddles, including modern reconstructions. Here are links to several of these pages:

The forums above also suggested checking out The Saddlers Den, a saddler who specializes in equipment for Roman reenactors.

The Taifali Cavalry Unit has a Web page discussing their kit and experiences with it.

I’ll repost the pictures I took of the Deepeeka Roman Saddle (click the link to view a picture) in 2004.

Update: Pictures of the saddle and chariot are available.

Roman Cavalry Bibliography

Roman Cavalry Bibliography

I was going through some of my old emails and found a bibliography I had compiled for a friend on the Roman Cavalry. I attended a Roman re-enactment in October 2004 in Nashville. A Deepeeka representative had a reconstructed Roman cavalry saddle (Deepeeka item code AH6405). This really peeked my interest.

Picture I took at the Roman re-enactment of the Deepeeka saddle (see the Photography section for additional pictures):


One of the vendors at the event said they were going to have a fellow re-enactor test the saddle. (Haven’t heard back about that yet.) They wanted to research Roman saddles and cavalry, so I compiled a brief bibliography.

Below is a brief bibliography on the Roman Cavalry, including articles on tactics, units, training, horses, and equipment. See this bibliography for additional references. Of the books below, the Cheesman, Hyland, and Speidel books are probably some of the most useful. Hyland is an equestrienne — she discusses the history with a focus on horses and in some cases actually tries cavalry equipment and moves on her own horse.

Cheesman, G. L. (1971). The auxilia of the Roman Imperial Army. Hildesheim, G. Olms. ISBN 0890050961

Connolly, P. (1987). “The Roman Saddle.” BAR International Series 336: 7-27.

Connolly, P. (1986). “A Reconstruction of a Roman Saddle.” Britannia 17: 353-5.

Dixon, K. R. and P. Southern (1992). Roman Cavalry: from the first to the third century AD. London, Batsford. ISBN 0713463961

Goldsworthy, A. (2003). The Complete Roman Army. New York, NY, Thames & Hudson. ISBN 0500051240

Hyland, A. (1993). Training the Roman cavalry: from Arrian’s Ars Tactica. Dover, NH, Alan Sutton. ISBN 0862999847

Hyland, A. and J. Mann (1990). Equus: the Horse in the Roman World. London, B.T. Batsford, Ltd. ISBN 0713462604

Hyland, A (2003). The Horse in the Ancient World. Praegar Publishers. ISBN 0275981142

Junkelmann, M. (1990). Die Reiter Roms. Mainz am Rhein, P. v. Zabern. Three volumes ISBN: 3805310064 (v. 1), 3805311397 (v. 2), 3805312881 (v. 3)

MacDowall, S. (1995). Late Roman cavalryman, 236-565 AD. Oxford, Osprey. ISBN 1841762601

McCall, J. B. (2001). The Cavalry of the Roman Republic: Cavalry Combat and Elite Reputations in the Middle and Late Republic. New York, Routledge, an imprint of Taylor & Francis Books Ltd. ISBN 0415257131

Spaul, J. E. H. and C. Cichorius (1994). Ala: the auxiliary cavalry units
of the pre-Diocletianic imperial Roman army. Andover, Nectoreca Press. ISBN 0952506203. Paperback.\?&ID=11795

Speidel, M. P. (1994). Riding for Caesar: the Roman Emperors’ Horse Guards. Cambridge, Massachusettes, Harvard University Press. ISBN 0-674-76897-3

Stephenson, I. P. and K. Dixon (2003). Roman Cavalry Equipment.
Glouchestershire and Charleston, Tempus Publishing Ltd. ISBN 0-7524-1421-6