RomanArmyTalk

Full Version: Burial of dead post battle
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A thought occurred to me earlier today as I browsed a copy of 'Cannae'. The question was "what happened to all the bodies?" We know that when the Romans finally got back to the Tuetoberg Forest it was littered with whitened bones and detritus of war as we know the Germanics did not hang around to bury the Roman dead.

But the classic 'Italian' battles such as Cannae; what did they do with 55,000 dead bodies? Even with today's technology, it would be a hell of a clear up job. Are there massive grave pits yet to be discovered around Europe - I cannot see how you could burn that number of bodies in the concentration they were in.

Has anyone any research into this aspect of ancient warfare?

Quintus
aka Guido Aston
There is more than one occasion where Caesar mentions burying the dead in Gallic Wars, and IIRC, on one, he's also talking about the dead enemies.

After a giant battle, the troops would not have to fight for a while, if they won of course, and the Roman soldiers were no stranger to digging. No doubt they removed all useable equipment, but I can't say what happened to the Roman gear. The enemy gear would probably have been sold for plunder.
Would not the Romans have cremated their fallen colleagues rather than buried them?
Actually, the Germans in particular tended to sacrifice captured gear in lakes and bogs. After Teutoberg Forest they apparently just piled up a lot, to rust away. No doubt at least some stuff was carried off to be re-used, though it's also possible that leaders claimed most of that to be used as gifts and such. But you have to keep the gods happy, because they're the reason you won! And not much point in keeping all that Roman armor, since it obviously didn't help the Romans win, eh? Chuck it in the drink!

Valete,

Matthew