Session Descriptions

During the congress we will discuss new research results in 20 different sessions. We will schedule lectures of 15 minutes with 5 minutes each for discussion.

Click on the title below to get detailed information on the different subjects.


1. Small-scale Rome? Public buildings and urban features in Roman military vici
(Christof Flügel / Martina Meyr / Tony Wilmott)


2. Open/Closed frontiers
(Bill Hanson)


3. Food and drink
(Sue Stallibrass / Tom Parker)


4. Waste not - want not? Rubbish disposal and the Roman Army
(Stefanie Hoss)


5. Beyond the Empire’s Edge: Visualization and Strategy
(Richard Talbert / Boris Rankov)


6. Signaling in the army
(Cristina-G. Alexandrescu)


7. Reconstructions of roman fortified sites and their surroundings
(Orsolya Heinrich-Tamaska / C. Sebastian Sommer)


8. Presenting the Roman Frontier
(Rebecca Jones / Martina Meyr / Nigel Mills)


9. An imperial policy of ‘Defence in Depth’: a reality or a mirage?
(Markus Gschwind / Andrew Poulter)


10. Timber forts and fortresses
(Julia Chorus)


11. Craftsmen, Tools, Techniques, Machines, and Manufacture on the Roman Limes
(Andrew Rich)


12. Building materials
(Tanja Romankiewicz / Guus Gazenbeck)


13. „Unpleasant to live in, yet it makes the city rich.” Industry and commerce in military and civil settlements along the Limes
(Orsolya Láng / Szilvia Bíró)


14. Plenary session: recent research on the Raetian Limes
(C. Sebastian Sommer / Suzana Matešić)


15. The frontier in North Africa
(David Mattingly / Victoria Leitch / Martin Sterry)

[canceled; included in session 17a]


16. Roman Fleets
(Jasper de Bruin)

[canceled; included in session 17c]


17. Recent research and excavation on the frontiers: forts, fortresses, small finds
(Peter Henrich / Suzana Matešić)


18.  Roman Soldiers and Religion
(Ines Klenner / Nicole Birkle)


19. How to build a Roman camp
(Eckhard Deschler-Erb / Sabine Deschler / Gabriele Rasbach)


20. Sex in the Frontiers: Textual and material representations of human sexuality at the edge of empire
(Rob Collins / Tatiana Ivleva)




1. Small-scale Rome? Public buildings and urban features in Roman military vici (Christof Flügel / Martina Meyr / Tony Wilmott)



In the last years, mainly due to intensified geophysical research work, several types of public architecture hitherto not known in Roman military vici were discovered.

Wooden amphitheatres like in Künzing (Raetia), Arnsburg (Germania Superior) or Chesters (Britannia) or the scenic theatre with adjacent forum in Theilenhofen (Raetia) as well as a possible schola or temple in front of the porta principalis dextra in Ruffenhofen (Raetia) indicate that buildings for the general public may have been more widespread than generally assumed and that military vici from the architectural point of view had more to offer than the classical stripe-houses. Examining in detail the evidence of old and new excavations and surveys one may notice public areas, like on the Saalburg or, once more, in Ruffenhofen. Another question is the position of temples and other public buildings inside the military vici. A further point of interest is possible joint use of public baths by auxiliary troops and vicani.

This section wants the archeological evidence for the role, function and layout of public buildings and "urban features" in military vici around the Empire. Papers concentrating on the epigraphic evidence for the public administration of military vici (magistri vici?) are explicitly welcome as well.

2. Open/Closed frontiers (Bill Hanson)


One of the primary interests of Limes Congresses has always been to understand how frontier systems operated and what function(s) they were intended to perform. There is, however, a major dichotomy in our current interpretations of their role.  Some see demarcated frontier lines as entirely military in function, intended primarily to protect the territorial integrity of the Empire and exclude, or at least strongly discourage, unwanted infiltration. Others see them as having a more socio-economic administrative function and thus being more open in nature, designed not to prevent movement into the Empire, but to facilitate its control and regulation.

The aim of this session is to re-assess the evidence on which our current fundamental assumptions are based and, in the course of doing so, to address a range of associated questions. These might include: What was the relationship between the definition of frontiers on the ground and the limit of direct Roman control in the area?  Within frontier zones were there formal boundaries or precise geographical limits and, if so, how were they defined? To what extent did cultural, economic or even administrative criteria determine the location and function of frontiers?  To what extent were the local peoples treated differently on either side of those frontier lines which we can define?  Why do some linear barriers appear to have been provided with multiple gateways while others have very few?  Why did linear barriers develop in some areas but not others? To what extent did frontier systems change in their aims from the early expansionist days to the retrenchment of the late Empire?

3. Food and drink (Sue Stallibrass / Tom Parker)


Food and drink – what do they tell us about people living and working in the frontier regions? What you eat, how you prepare food and who you dine with can indicate a range of factors including cultural background or ethnicity, and economic or social status. Diverse people moved around the frontier zones: foreign soldiers were sent on military postings whilst local people and workers moved to industrial sites, towns and extra-mural settlements. When they met, did they mix or keep their distance, and did they use food and drink to express their identities? Did soldiers everywhere have a uniform military diet, or did they spice things up with flavours from home, or make use of local specialities? Did locals adopt colonial foodstyles? Recent research and developing techniques are revealing new insights into expressions of identity, methods of production and logistics of supply.

We would like this session to include different types of evidence and location.

  • What did people consume, and was this through choice or necessity? – plant and animal remains, food residues in ceramic containers, isotopes in human bones, epigraphic and literary sources
  • How did people prepare and consume food? – ceramics (individual food portions or group meals),  butchery practices, imported tableware or traditional drinks containers?
  • Where did the food and drink come from and what were the distribution, processing and storage facilities? – containers, processing waste
  • Can you distinguish between people living inside and outside the Empire, or in a military or extra-mural settlement through their consumption of food and drink?

4. Waste not, want not? Rubbish disposal and the Roman Army (Stefanie Hoss)



The Roman army was a large organisation, using up huge amounts of resources and materials. In addition to a plethora of readymade items, it was also supplied with many different raw materials used within the military itself to produce different objects. After some times, most of these objects stopped being usable in their original function. Some of them could only be thrown away, while with others recycling was possible. How did the processes of rubbish collection work in the very structured environment of a camp? Which materials were thrown our and which kept for re-use? Which re-use was applied to which material? Did re-use change with the fluctuating supply of certain materials? Or is the reputation of the Roman Army as a careful recycler of materials wildly overstated and not reflected in the finds?

This session proposes to look at the disposal of rubbish in the Roman Army, to answer questions on everyday processes in army camps and on supply and demand of materials.

We know that huge quantities of refuse (Abfall) were dealt with in the Roman army, as witnessed by the size of the famous Schutthügel of Vindonissa. Many of the refuse pits and dumps used by the Romans were excavated. The example of Dangstetten demonstrates the amount of information that can be gained on the system used in the disposal and transportation of rubbish from the point where it was generated inside the camps via diverse pits to its final dumping outside. The wet dumps prevalent in camps on the river (especially in the Netherlands) illustrate the diversity of objects and materials ending up in dumps.

We would like to invite contributions presenting individual excavations of rubbish pits or dumps as well as theories on rubbish disposal systems.

  • Which rubbish collection and disposal systems were in use?
  • Do these systems differ according to the size of camp or the phase in the life of a camp (construction phase vs. phase of use vs. abandonment phase)?
  • Are all materials (with the exception of biodegradable materials) present in the expected amounts in rubbish dumps or are some materials under- or overrepresented and why?
  • What is the evidence for the ‘lost’ materials: wood, cloth, food and other organic materials? And what can we learn form them?
  • Does the composition of rubbish dumps differ from layer to layer?
  • Were some materials occasionally/regularly used elsewhere, be it as raw material for foundation trenches or to dry out wet spots?

5. Beyond the Empire’s Edge: Visualization and Strategy (Richard Talbert / Boris Rankov)


The panel aims to consider how the Roman military visualized the lands beyond the empire’s frontiers. Topics for papers could include how the army obtained its information about these lands; where such data was recorded and by whom; what outposts the army maintained beyond the frontier, and their role in gathering intelligence; the nature and extent of cross-frontier traffic in all its variety – commercial, diplomatic, migratory, etc. – and how much the army learned from such movement about the landscape, peoples and settlements beyond its own lines; how the army found its way on campaign outside the empire; the extent to which routes there were mapped and these maps disseminated; how ideas about geography in general were affected by Roman cartographic practices, and the degree to which this knowledge and worldview influenced strategic thinking all the way from the emperor’s court to the frontiers themselves.

6. Signaling in the army (Cristina-G. Alexandrescu)


The signaling in the Roman Army benefited in the last decades from dedicated studies concentrated on regions with a rather advanced state of research, as Britain and Germany, and on the equipment. This session invites contributions  -based on theoretical and practical/experimental approaches- to the generous discussion of D.J. Woolliscroft's thesis: Roman frontiers could have been equipped with a comprehensive signalling system adapted to terrain, visibility, and tactical considerations. Of great interest are possible completions to Woolliscroft's work on the Hadrian’s Wall, the Wetterau Limes in Germany, and the Upper German/Raetian border starting from the extended investigation on these limes lines but also from the intensive research on the other borders of the empires, like for example Dacia and Pannonia. Further are welcome contributions on eventual experiments on the intervisibility as well as on the signaling within the battlefield and the functioning of visual and acoustic signaling as defined by Vegetius (mil. 3.5).

7. Reconstructions of roman fortified sites and their surroundings (Orsolya Heinrich-Tamaska / C. Sebastian Sommer)


Only rare cases provide the archaeologist with more than the foundations, usually only a plan is derived from them, and some fragments of architecture are found in secondary use. However, construction, size and appearance of an antique building are not only crucial for its understanding, but also for its relevance for the contemporary people within the framework of, for example, a Roman fortified site and its surroundings.

Following the famous Portae cum Turribus (Bidwell/Miket/Ford 1988) and the recent Römische Wehrbauten - Befund und Rekonstruktion (Flügel/Obmann 2013) the aim of this session is to present and discuss the reasons for reconstructional ideas of fortification elements on the Limes and in the hinterland (city walls, fortified villae), no matter, whether they are developed for real scale, 2D or 3D electronical models.  

Also the questions arise: what was the background for the height, the structural and architectural elements, the building material, surface modelling etc.? Where are the similarities and differences between the fortified structures of civil and military sites? How far can regional assumptions and results be transferred across the Empire? What caused changes in the appearance of the Late Roman installations?

Similarly, we are going to discuss the locations of these sites in the past and modern landscape: why were they built on a certain place, how were they included in broader topographical conditions and how this situation can be communicated today in a reconstruction process.

8. Presenting the Roman Frontier (Rebecca Jones / Martina Meyr / Nigel Mills)


The proposal is to continue the discussions on ‘Presenting the Roman Frontiers’ first explored at the 21st Congress in Newcastle in 2009 and continued at the 22nd Congress in Ruse in 2012.

The ‘Presenting the Roman Frontiers’ session at the 23rd Limes Congress will focus on:

  • Interpretation as an aid to management and to promoting understanding and enjoyment of the Roman Frontiers
  • Quality monitoring and management of interpretation at sites and museums along the Limes and associated areas, and the development of guidelines and toolkits to assist in quality assurance
  • Interpretation planning and the development of interpretation strategies/frameworks across the Limes as a whole, designed to encourage each part of the Limes to develop their own distinctive interpretation offer
  • Engagement of museums, enactment groups, guides and others involved in presenting the Roman Frontiers in strategic interpretation planning and delivery

9. An imperial policy of ‘Defence in Depth’: a reality or a mirage? (Andrew Poulter / Markus Gschwind)


Both ancient historians and archaeologists have long been reluctant to promote the view that the Roman Empire ever had a ‘Grand Strategy’, implemented on all its frontiers and co-ordinated by the emperor; each frontier confronted its own specific problems of control and were subject to very different geographical constraints, a factor which mitigates against the possibility of applying a single solution to the defence of the entire Empire. The concept of ‘defence in depth’ in the late Roman period, though still maintained by a few authorities, has not been universally accepted; some archaeologists, studying particular frontiers, reject the notion. The lack of a central commissariat, able to co-ordinate and direct an overall policy, appears to undermine the principle tenet of the argument: that imperial policy was considered and implemented by imperial decree (F. Millar 1982). There were possible exceptions but even they do not prove imperial direction in the planning of  frontiers; Hadrian’s inspections of frontier defences in Germany, North Africa and even Britain might have allowed him to personally apply lessons learnt in the management of  frontier defence in one sector to another, although other factors than purely military rational could  have  been at play; there is a danger of always presuming personal involvement whereas, for example, as we now know, the palisade in Germany was already under construction before the emperor visited the region; he could not have initiated the process in person during his inspection. It seems more likely that this was a local initiative. Although the application of a policy of defence-in-depth to the late Roman period (proposed by Luttwak in 1976) has still its adherents, the excavation and (reliable) publication of frontier installations have considerably augmented our database over the last thirty years. Moreover, textual analysis of a key document, the Notitia Dignitatum, has undermined our past conviction that it can be used to reconstruct the military organization of frontier forces (Brennan). It is surely timely to review whether the concept of ‘defence in depth’ remains creditable and a valid approach to understanding how frontiers operated in the period c. AD. 280-450.

As argued by Luttwak, the late Roman strategy, initiated by Diocletian, involved the creation of a ‘shallow defence in depth’, whereby the protection of the hinterland of the frontier was sacrificed in favour of systematically creating a series of ‘strong-points’, protecting supplies for the field army, storing materials which were largely imported from the unthreatened parts of the Mediterranean basin. On the Danube and the Rhine, Luttwak claimed that forts were constructed on the opposing bank to resist a hostile attack; surely a key element in the organization of the frontier, but not necessarily for its defence.

We would like colleagues to join in assessing the extent to which this ‘system’ could  be rejected – or could be applied – to late Roman frontiers, based upon regional studies, from both the West and the East. These papers could address particular aspects of the material and literary evidence or focus upon a particular frontier.

Particular themes (not excluding other approaches) include:

  • The function and chronology of fortifications in the immediate hinterland of a frontier; one plan or an ad hoc development?
  • The character of civilian settlement and its economy within the hinterland of the frontier (the lands ‘sacrificed’ and left open to devastation, according to Luttwak).
  • The so-called bridgehead and ‘landing places’; defence, control or supervision?
  • Supply to the frontier; invariably regional in origin, supplemented by specialized imports from the Mediterranean?
  • The Notitia Dignitatum revisited. Where are the comitatenses?
  • Are late Roman cities on and behind the frontier no longer urban but military in character and, if so, what roles did they perform?
  • Fortlets and watchtowers on, behind, and in front of the limes road; date and function.

10. Timber forts and fortresses (Julia Chorus)


In the Northern parts of the Roman Empire almost every stone fort or fortress has one or more timber predecessors. Remains may be fully preserved in water-logged conditions, as in the Western Netherlands, or decayed but showing up beneath the foundations of stone forts, as for instance in Bulgaria. There was a time that archaeologists could only recognize traces of stone forts and fortresses. But our knowledge of the timber building phases is steadily increasing. The initial design/lay-out in timber is often the first in a long building sequence. That is one of the reasons why special attention should be paid to this building phase. During the last Limes Conferences several papers on timber fort(resse)s were presented, but in different sessions. Now, with a session devoted solely to the subject of timber fort(resse)s, it will be possible to compare and share information from the different regions of the Roman Empire on details about fort(ress) plans, architecture, building techniques, use of timber, research methods and fieldwork. This will enable us to raise our understanding of the timber fort(resse)s to a higher level.

Themes that we would like to address during this session are:

  • Building techniques

Although it is commonly assumed that Roman fort(resse)s were all built in the same way, with similar building techniques and similar ground plans, the opposite appears to be the case. Local building traditions vs. ‘Roman’ building techniques in timber need to be explored.

  • Differences between the timber fort(ress) and its stone successor

(Dis-)continuity in the choice of location of defences, changes in the location and function of buildings within the walls.

  • Provisioning of wood

The possibilities for provisioning depend very much on the natural environment around the army camps. Which wood was selected and is there a difference in how and where it was used in the constructions? How durable was the wood used for the different purposes? What was locally available in sufficient quantity and what had to be brought from farther away? Is there a need for (long distance?) transport and trade? Are there differences between daily needs (regular repair, fuel) and wood needed for one-time large scale projects?

  • Field research

The methods of excavating timber structures are crucial for the maximum of information. What choices are to be made during fieldwork?

  • Dating timber

Dendrochronology and 14-C dating of timber in fort(resse)s: more and more information can be obtained from oak as well as non-oak material. What are the circumstances, sampling methods, possibilities?

11. Craftsmen, Tools, Techniques, Machines, and Manufacture on the Roman Limes (Andrew Rich)


While there has been many excellent studies of weapons and military equipment in relation to the Roman limes the number of papers focused on tools, machines, the craftsmen that produce and maintain such equipment is comparatively lacking. This session is seeking papers exploring the tools, their use and also production relation to the Limes. The intention of this session is to provide a platform to explore these subjects further. Papers on specific artifacts and assemblages as well as studies of and those who are the tool users (e.g. craftsmen, immunes, regular soldiers, civilians, etc.) will be considered. Papers on more complex machines and the manufacturing process are also welcome.

12. Building materials: Elements of construction, elements of expression? (Tanja Romankiewicz / Guus Gazenbeek)


Building programmes allowed the Roman Empire to quickly achieve a physical Roman reality in newly conquered territories. Military installations, at first in timber, mudbrick or clay, were soon replaced in stone or concrete; public and private buildings followed swiftly, creating lasting, monumental impressions.  Many of these constructions relied on the Roman legionaries and auxiliaries as architects, engineers, surveyors, construction workers, and material preparers.  The military planners and builders needed access to materials: stone, timber, clay, lime, sand, water, etc.  But they also brought with them their own experiences, their traditional knowledge of constructions and materials.

This session proposes to look at frontier architecture, but not at its style nor its planning and engineering processes.  This session is interested in the building materials, the building blocks that created these architectural realities, and the people who selected, created and used these elements of construction.

We would like to invite contributions which present a specific building material and how it has been used for a specific context, or which consider new methods of analysis.  More general contributions are also welcome that explore:

  • Where are building materials sourced: locally, locally-adapted, or imported?
  • What does this tell us about who sources these materials and who uses them? 
  • How are these materials used in constructions: how far can regional / local influence be recognised in an overall standardised building programme?
  • Can we trace developments and innovations? Or experiments, failure, and deterioration of skills and knowledge – in different places, at different times?
  • What is the evidence and what can we learn from the ‘lost’ building materials: timber, unfired clay / bricks, other organic materials?

13. „Unpleasant to live in, yet it makes the city rich.” Industry and commerce in military and civil settlements along the Limes (Orsolya Láng / Szilvia Bíró)


Even though industrial activity is traditionally considered to be something restricted to areas outside the settlements in the Roman period - based on literary sources and earlier excavation results - more and more data refer to the contrary nowadays: several workshops – even those with stinky, incendiary and noisy activities – have been located inside civil settlements, sometimes even close to the centres. This raises several questions about the urban structure, town planning or even the interest of the workshop - owners and merchants in the settlements’ public life. Equally interesting is the identification and/or localization of shops or other commercial premises in both military and civil settlements along the limes.
    What kind of industrial activities had been practised inside the settlements and what are their archaeological manifestations? Can definable industrial and/or commercial quartiers be observed in these settlements? Whose need did these workshops serve: the army, the civilians or both? The main focus will be on the archaeological imprints of industry and commerce in urban environment, however, papers concerning the economical - historical background are also welcome.

14. Plenary session: recent research on the Raetian Limes (C. Sebastian Sommer / Suzana Matešić)


The limes2015 congress takes place in the State of Bavaria, which in Roman times in most parts belonged to the province of Raetia. For this reason the organizers of the Limes Congress arranged a plenary session on the Raetian Limes in order to provide an update for the conference delegates. In three papers Limes specialists will present the state of research to the participants of the Congress in Ingolstadt. Unfortunatele, this session is not open for submissions.

15. The Frontier in North Africa (David Mattingly / Victoria Leitch / Martin Sterry)


The Roman frontiers of North Africa remain some of the least well understood of the Empire, due to the near cessation of fieldwork in the post-colonial age. They also have some of the greatest potential both for employing new techniques and methodologies (e.g. satellite remote-sensing, ceramic studies, environmental studies, isotope studies, etc.) and for studying broader themes in frontier studies. Yet there have been significant developments in recent years. For example, work beyond the frontier in the central Sahara has highlighted the vibrant relationship between the Romans and the oases of the Garamantes in terms of state-formation, trade and the movement of ideas. New excavations at Roman forts in Mauretania Tingitana at Thamusida and in Libya at Gheriat el-Garbia have revealed previously unsuspected complexity of occupation or economic activities.
In this session we seek to showcase new findings, research and approaches relating both to the infrastructure of the frontiers and, more importantly, to the frontier regions of North Africa. High-resolution satellite imagery has revealed a plethora of new forts, fortlets, linear barriers and ample evidence of civilian and indigenous settlements. We also anticipate contributions dealing with the peoples of the frontier zone; it is apparent that the new knowledge of sophisticated oasis communities peripheral to the Empire changes our perspective on the inter-relationship between the frontier and indigenous peoples. Not only must we develop our models of military organisation, but we must re-evaluate our notions of life within, beyond and between the frontiers. Proposals for papers are welcomed on any aspect of the frontiers from Morocco to eastern Libya and spanning the 1st-5th centuries AD.

16. Roman Fleets (Jasper de Bruin)


Roman Frontiers extended not only over land, but also over rivers, seas and oceans. In the Mediterranean, the fleets of Ravenna and Misenum were responsible for safety on the water, while the various provincial fleets had a more regional function in monitoring waterways along the frontiers. In addition, several legions possessed naval detachments, while the Cohortes Classicae were auxiliary units that were also involved in river patrols in the provinces, forming a dense network of surveillance along the waterways. Operational tasks included patrolling the frontier rivers and coastlines, monitoring supply convoys and forming rapid response units to repel any threat from outside. In addition to military duties, Roman fleets carried out a wide range of other tasks, such as quarrying, transport of various goods, raw materials and, of course, livestock and people. There are, furthermore, indications that the Roman navy was also involved in construction activities in the provinces.
The purpose of this session is the exchange of ideas concerning the Roman Fleets on an Empire-wide scale. Questions that can be addressed are:
•    What was the role of the fleet in (provincial) building programmes?
•    What were the origins of the sailors? Was there a shared identity among the navy personnel?
•    What is the relation between the fleets and the land army? Did they work together or did they have separated tasks?
•    What kind of shipbuilding techniques were applied and where and by whom were the ships built?
•    What role does the construction of replicas have in explaining variation in craft construction?
•    How were harbour installations and boathouses constructed?
•    What is known about the morphology of the fortifications?

17. Recent research and excavations on the frontiers: forts, fortresses, small finds (Peter Henrich / Suzana Matešić)



This is our "open-session". Your recent research can be presented here if it does not fit in another session.


Due to the high number of paper proposals, session 17 has been divided into 6 sub-sections.


17a: The eastern frontier and the Limes in North Africa (Thomas Parker)

17b: The frontier at the Danube (George Cupcea/ Felix Marcu)

17c: Roman Britain (Frances McIntosh)

17d: The Rhine as a borderline in Lower Germany (Peter Henrich/ Suzana Matešić)

17e: Raetia and Upper Germany (Peter Henrich/ Suzana Matešić)

17f: New research of republican and early principate sites (Bettina Tremmel)

18.  Roman Soldiers and Religion (Ines Klenner / Nicole Birkle)


Archaeological evidence shows a rich religious diversity within the Roman army, encompassing a host of different gods, some belonging to official Roman religion, others being the traditional gods of different peoples recruited into the army (often re-interpreted in the interpretatio Romana) as well as gods appearing newly on the firmament.
Some religious activities can be connected directly to the military, like the official veneration of the standards and the Emperor, the shrines dedicated by the Beneficarii and the cult of the matres campestres. Another group of evidence provides an insight to the private religion of individual soldiers and contains such diverse finds as private dedications, small finds and ritual depositions.
Recent research has also given new impulses to some well-discussed questions on the role of the army in the spread the Mithras cult and others, giving them a position between the two extremes of private and official religion.   
In this session, we welcome presentations on all aspects of religion in the Roman army. We would like to discuss new theories and see excavation results and finds.
Presentations could include, but are by no means restricted to:

  • Research on so called ‘military-cults’, both official like Mars and Minerva and the matres Campresres and ‘inofficial’ such as Iuppiter Dolichenus and Mithras 
  • Sanctuaries or sacred places in and around Roman forts
  • The evidence of the small finds for the religion of the Roman soldiers
  • Worship of various Genii in the Roman army
  • Worship of various ethnic gods by individual soldiers
  • The role of early Christianity in the Roman army

19. How to build a Roman camp (E. Deschler-Erb / S. Deschler / G. Rasbach)



When conquering new territory, reorganising border fortifications or mounting military campaigns it is necessary to set up and furnish military camps. Several phases can be identified:

1. Planning:
Reconnoitring the territory and selecting strategically well-positioned locations that can easily be accessed with supplies (by land or water).
Questions regarding phase 1
Are there any written sources or general handbooks on planning/preparing the construction of a camp? What can we learn from these sources? Is there any evidence pointing towards a central decision-making authority (imperial level / provincial level)? Are there any inscriptions on stone or metal or messages on papyrus or wood dealing with the planning process?

2. Preparation:
Expanding the transport networks (construction of tracks, bridges, preparation work for piers), organising and providing construction materials and equipment (timber, stone, tiles, mortar, hardware – nails, construction equipment, tools), surveying and levelling the building ground.
Questions regarding phase 2
Have any calculations been made with regard to the materials required? How big could the catchment area have been for the sourcing of the raw materials, construction materials and equipment (forests/quarries/kilns)? Were the materials sourced from the immediate surroundings or from further afield (e.g. from the Mediterranean region)? Is there any evidence pointing to the existence of particular enterprises/workshops that could have produced the construction equipment required? Is there any evidence that the equipment was perhaps standardised (e.g. standard-sized nails, rings etc.)? Where did the building equipment come from and what kinds of equipment were used?

3. Construction:
Recruiting staff (craftsmen), coordinating the work, securing the supply of provisions and construction materials, sufficient protection for the staff.
Questions regarding phase 3
What kind of evidence do the archaeological finds (incl. archaeobiology) provide in terms of the origins of the craftsmen? How was the demand for food (incl. fodder for riding and pack animals) met? Is there any evidence for the supply of goods: boats/carts or beasts of burden/draught animals?

4. Moving in:
Furnishing the camp in detail, taking up quarters, securing the ongoing operation.
Questions regarding phase 4
What troops moved in? Can particular units be identified? How was the maintenance of the camp organised after the legionaries moved in (internal organisation or outsourcing of repairs)? Where did the provisions for both the legionaries and the animals come from before the supply system from the immediate surroundings was set up? How were broken-down mounts and working animals replaced?

20. Sex in the Frontiers: Textual and material representations of human sexuality at the edge of empire (Rob Collins / Tatiana Ivleva)


The tradition of limes-studies has focused on the organization and distribution of the Roman military, with scholarship over the past generation extending into the more social aspects of the frontiers. This has included exploration of social groups beyond the soldiers, notably craftsmen, women, children and barbarians. However, some aspects of social life have been explored very little, including aspects of sexuality as it relates to frontiers. Books and exhibitions on Classical eroticism and sexuality have become more commonplace in the past decade, but the growing trend in military sociology to explore the relationship between sexuality and soldiers has yet to penetrate very deeply into Roman frontier studies. Bearing in mind the important conclusions reached through modern military sociology, there are a number of questions to ask in relation to the Roman frontiers more specifically:
•    Does scholarship from contemporary military sociology provide useful models for application in Rome’s frontiers? Or is human sexuality too deeply enshrined in cultural context and upbringing?
•    How was sexuality perceived and represented at the edge of empire? Is there a divergence or alternative to the dominant Romano-Hellenistic model? Is there a ‘provincialization’ or ‘barbarization’ of sex similar to other aspects of cultural negotiation and syncretism?
•    Which peoples are being represented, and how?
•    What is the role of objects, including architectural adornment, bearing images of genitalia, sex acts, or allusions to such activities?
•    Is there a material fingerprint for sexual activities, particularly when considered relative to expectations of organized prostitution linked to the Roman military?
•    To what extent can we identify personal representations and material remains of sexuality, distinct from those representations bound up with artistic motifs and political dialogues?
•    To what extent did the traditional Roman model of the family (with a pater familias) extended to the frontiers, or was there a more fluid social construct of family, pertaining to issues of gender, sexuality, and politics?

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