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Anonymous

Hi,<br>
<br>
Did the roman armies in the late 1st C.AD use accurate tactical army maps in the field based on, for example Egyptian knowing in the science of map making? I have heard that Ptolemaios created maps based on the idea that earth was spherical and that a accurate scale image could be created by projection (the same idea that modern map making is based on). Did the romans use this theory in practice to create tactical military maps?<br>
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/Mike - Sweden <p></p><i></i>
There used to be a very good essay on the net called 'Stumbling through Gaul', which doesn't seem to be around anymore, but which concerned the use (or otherwise) of maps and intelligence by Caesar during the Gallic war. As far as I recall, the author contended that tactical military maps essentially didn't exist in antiquity - the closest thing to a modern map would have been something like the Peutinger Table (sp?) - a sort of diagram of distances between known cities on established routes. This would have helped a general know how long his troops had to march between cities A and B along road C, but not much about the lie of the land or the real positions of A, B or C in relation to anything else. For a general in the field, outside of the well travelled provinces, tactical intelligence would have been based solely on the reports of friendly natives and his own scouts.<br>
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This is quite a difficult concept for us to grasp - maps being such an intrinsic part of what we think of as tactical military planning. (In films, oddly, Romans and other 'ancients' invariably have a giant map drawn on rawhide, laced onto a frame! Some myths die hard, I guess...) <p></p><i></i>
You can get a very useful look at how the Romans saw their world in a book "Rome and the Enemy" by Susan P. Mattern, University of California Press, 1999. The subtitle is Imperial Strategy in the Principate. There is a lengthy chapter called The Image of the World, which deals with the Roman view of geography, maps, etc.<br>
She writes in the chapter: "Ancient sources, as noted above (earlier in the chapter), assume that it is only after military intervention that one can expect detailed information about a geographical region."<br>
Earlier in the chapter she notes: "The Romans inhabited a world without modern land surveying techniques, without aerial or satellite photography, and without the compass. The bird's eye view was not available to them; the only reliable way to acquire information about an area was to march through it, ideally with an army."<br>
To some extent, obviously, the Romans also used information obtained from merchants, other travelers and captured or defecting enemies. It still presented a linear view, like an itinerary, not a wide spatial view. That would still be true for a time for an area the army had marched through.<br>
The book is an interesting discussion of the Romans' own strategic world view.<br>
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Quinton/Marcus Quintius Clavus <p></p><i></i>
I'd like to point out just a tangential piece of information, even though it is not a real evidence.<br>
During the second half of Middle Age, it was in common use among Mediterranean sailors a kind of map called 'portulan', which featured Europe with the main mediterranean ports and marked with lines the shortest routes joining them for aligning the ship with a compass. The shores are closely packed with names of harbours, but the inner lands are mostly devoid of details and filled with decorative figures and banners... Totally non-Roman!<br>
BUT<br>
The shapes of Europe, Near Asia and North Africa are remarkably exact, even close to modern standards but the really curious thing is that the exactitude abruptly disappears when the map trespasses the borders of the former Roman Empire. The most striking thing is that the shape of Great Britain is accurate until Hadrian's wall line, Scotland is as sketchy and unaccuratedly depicted as Ireland or Denmark!<br>
There is a theory which tries to explain this odd fact resorting to a now lost Roman map, from which only the contour had been once copied for maritime use and that copy had survived and been re-copied until the late Medieval period.<br>
It is clear that Romans hadn't enough technology as to trace even barely accurate maps from the sea but they could trace them from the land! Roman land surveyors were excellent, their surviving grids of agricultural fields are strikingly exact when viewed from the air, and they could probably trace much better maps than the Peutinger map (What would they say of our surveying techniques if, for instance, only the train or bus maps of our big cities would survive?<br>
IMHO, Romans could trace exact maps from lands, but only after conquering and colonizing them.<br>
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Aitor <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p200.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showUserPublicProfile?gid=aitoririarte>Aitor Iriarte</A> at: 8/3/04 7:44 am<br></i>
Ancient naval 'maps' are quite different really, not having a compass makes a difference! They are not graphical maps as such, but descriptions of landmarks (mountains, harbours and rivermouths) of a certain area, described in the order you'd see them if you sailed past it in a certain direction. Such 'periploi' (sail-around) exist for the Black Sea and the Red Sea for instance. <p>Greets<br>
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Jasper</p><i></i>

Anonymous

I agree that the Romans would not have had accurate surveys of new territory, and I know that maps such as the Peutinger Table do show a different world picture, not a bird's eye view. But the Romans DID have the latter concept as well; see the cadastral survey for the colonia at Orange in France (where the land is divided up into a grid and the course of a river through that grid is clearly marked) and the detailed Severan plan of Rome, which has plan conventions remarkably similar to our own. I've also seen a glass mosaic in Rome (in the Caelian Antiquarium; sadly closed, I believe, at present) which is a plan of a bath-house. So the Romans could cope with the idea of a scale drawing of the view from above – but presumably only after accurate survey.<br>
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If you read Tacitus' description of Britannia in the "Agricola", when he talks about Caledonia "tapering into a wedge", he's clearly got a map in mind.<br>
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I'm not saying that this means there were tactical maps, just that the world view to create them did exist, even if for most purposes itineraries of known routes were perfectly sufficient.<br>
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Shaun <p></p><i></i>
Wasn't M. Vipsanius Agrippa supposed to have set up (or designed) a map of the empire that was set up near the Pantheon, in the Portico of Agrippa?<br>
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Edit:<br>
Here's a page with a good summary of the evidence for Agrippa's map:<br>
www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/...8mono.html<br>
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(this accompanies a <em>reconstructed</em> map: www.henry-davis.com/MAPS/...s/118.html ) <p></p><i>Edited by: <A HREF=http://p200.ezboard.com/bromanarmytalk.showUserPublicProfile?gid=dannoulpius>Danno Ulpius</A> at: 8/3/04 3:30 pm<br></i>
Quote:</em></strong><hr>non dissimilem offensonem et Aemiliani subiit L. Hostilius Mancinus, qui primus Carthaginem inruperat, situm eius oppugnationesque depictas proponendo in foro et ipse adsistens populo spectanti singula enarrando, qua comitate proximis comitiis consulatum adeptus est.<hr> -Pliny, Natural History, 35.23<br>
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"Lucius Hostilius Mancinus, too, who had been the first to enter Carthage at the final attack, gave a very similar offence to Aemilianus, by exposing in the Forum a painting of that city and the attack upon it, he himself standing near the picture, and describing to the spectators the various details of the siege; a piece of complaisance which secured him the consulship at the ensuing Comitia."<br>
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Lancel, in <em>Carthage</em>, interprets this painting as a map of the attack. It's hard to be sure from the text, but if so, it would be a more tactical map (though after the fact rather than as planning). <p></p><i></i>
Hi,<br>
<br>
My apologies for adding this at so late a date, but today I came across a reference about Late Roman tactical maps in Nicasie, Martijn (1997): Twilight of Empire, the Roman Army from the reign of Diocletian until the Battle of Adrianople (Thesis Amsterdam), p. 208. Nicasie referrred to the Strategikon by Maurikios, XX 41-44.<br>
"Apparently, sketches of the terrain were recommended to be drawn, so that the army would be prepared if the need arose to tracerce it."<br>
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I tried to look it up in my copy of the Strategikon (ed. by George T. Dennis) but could not find it.<br>
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Anyway, this would likely go back on a practise of the Late Roman army at best, not all the way to the late 1st century, as was the original question.<br>
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Valete,<br>
Valerius/Robert <p></p><i></i>