Tuesday, August 24, 2010

NAVAL OPERATIONS ON THE RHINE, 357 AD



1: Alaman warrior
This reconstruction follows the rich graves of the Rhine border and the descriptions of the ancient authors. Ammianus describes long, thick hair dyed red with natural substances. The narrow, long-sleeved woollen tunic is decorated with trim in red-purple silk. Note his woollen close-fitting trousers, and typical Germanic boots copied from specimens found in Marx-Etzel. The shield is brightly painted, copied from the insignia of an Alamanic tribe, the Bucinobantes, recruited as auxilium palatinum into the Roman army. We illustrate a typical Germanic javelin or angon (jaculum); other weapons might include a throwing axe or francisca tucked into the belt, and a yew-wood Germanic bow about 2m (6ft 6in) long.

2: Roman officer of the Rhine Fleet
He wears an iron helmet of Ausburg-Pfersee type, sheathed in gilded silver. His imposing muscled armour might have mobile shoulder-guards, and shows lappets around the lower abdomen. It is worn over a thoracomacus of felt lined with cotton or coarse silk, and the pteryges hanging from the waist are like those represented on the I lias Ambrosiana, fringed with dark purple. According to Vegetius the marines and sailors of the lusoriae or exploratoriae scaphae were dressed completely in venefus-colour, i.e. sea-blue. His clothing, especially the sagum and the bracae, presents a mixed Romano-Germanic style, as was usual on the limes.

3: Romano-Germanic naval scout
Apart from his ridged Sassanian-style helmet, copied from the Worms specimen, his whole armament and clothing is mainly Germanic in fashion, although his military belt in Kerbschnitt style and the shield pattern are typical of the late Roman limitanei along the Rhine and Danube frontiers.

4: Roman classiarius of the Rhine Fleet
This marine is reconstructed after the Lyon seal that shows the city of Mainz, but supplemented with other archaeological details. The ridge-style helmet from Augst fits well with the classiarius helmet visible on the Ham mosaic, furnished with a red crest. His simple mail armour is worn over a leather jerkin of the same shape; a recent interpretation of the Thorsberg find by German archaeologists suggests that silvered clasps were used for shoulder fastenings while small hooks were used for fastening the breast. The sleeved tunic is made of an undyed wool-linen mix and decorated with typical orbiculi and segmenta of the late Empire. His weapons are a culter venatorius and a sword, here copied from the Idesheim specimen, and a light javelin (verutum).

Provincial Fleets, to defend the frontiers and support the legions in the different provinciae, were soon added. One of the first and strategically most important was the Rhine Fleet in Germania, whose military ports were linked by road with those in Gaul (France). At the time of Drusus' expedition in 12 B C we read that the military port of Bonna (modern Bonn), perhaps the main base of the Rhine Fleet, was directly linked with Gessoriacum (modern Boulogne - Florus 2,30). Under the early Empire the Rhine Fleet was an integral part of the army of Germania Inferior, composed of four legions in the 1st century AD, including Legio XI; this means that the soldiers of these legions could be used in the fleet as milites classiarii (fleet soldiers or 'marines'). During the Civilis revolt we find in the army of Germania Inferior the Legiones V and XV at Vetera, XVI and I at Novaesium (Neuss) and Bonna, serving with the Rhine Fleet. Among the additional legions sent to crush the revolt we find I Adiutrix and II Adiutrix formed from fighting sailors: later I Adiutrix was temporarily sent to Hispania, but by 88 AD we find it back in Germania Superior, then in Pannonia under Domitian. After the Civilis revolt II Adiutrix was sent to Britain, and then also to Pannonia by Domitian. A later inscription found at B a d e n Baden confirms the presence of this legion in Germania under Trajan.

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