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Apart from the recent excavation of a camp outside Vindolanda fort near Hexham
Telegraph story on excavation does anyone know of any other prison camps/descriptions? I'm particularly interested in 4th century camps, in the vicinity of Roma.
Thanks again,
I'm not sure if the Roman's bothered with such things. If they did keep prisoners it would just have been as hostages, which would have meant high-born people, the rest appear either to have been slaughtered or sold into slavery.
Yes, but the building of a distinctly different camp, deduced to be some kind of internment area in Vindolanda, might suggest that such a thing existed in other locations. There are later maps even showing detention locations along the borders where a 'scissors' marks the spot of castration for slaves, says one expert.
For example, when Julian sends Constantius his captives from his Gallic campaigns, where were they detained? Within an army camp in Mediolanum? Further down, in Rome? The only really curious note is that Chnodomarius was put up at the Castra Peregrina, but then he was an Alemannic rex.
Anyway, the description of the Hexham camp is useful.

Thanks all,
Quote:some kind of internment area in Vindolanda

There have been several theories about the 'circular hut village' at Vindolanda, including the idea that it was built by Moorish troops from north Africa... If it was intended to accomodate native Britons, I would suggest it was more likely for a group of high status exiles, or even envoys, who had voluntarily crossed the border, rather than prisoners of war, who would surely have been sent off southwards towards the slave market fairly quickly. But 'Roman concentration camp' sounds far more newsworthy, of course!

Quote:later maps even showing detention locations along the borders where a 'scissors' marks the spot of castration for slaves, says one expert.

Where does this idea come from? And what are these 'maps'? Castration was strictly illegal within Roman territory, which is why eunuchs from Persian lands in particular were so highly prized. It also wasn't done with scissors, of course...

Quote:captives from his Gallic campaigns, where were they detained?

This is an interesting question, and not only for that campaign - Roman troops regularly amassed large numbers of civilian captives and prisoners of war for sale as slaves (Caesar in Gaul, plus most imperial expeditions into barbaricum). Securing them all while the marching and fighting was ongoing - perhaps in a coffle with ropes or chains around the neck - must have been a difficult business, and the more slaves or captives were taken, the more fighting men would be needed to guard them...

Sending the slaves back to some sort of collection point behind the lines would be plausible, I suppose - but before the invention of wire, and particularly barbed wire, such a camp would need to be a construction of wood and earth, with a heavily manned perimeter. Maybe easier to keep all the captives tied up and drag them along with the marching troops?
(Scissors/knife marks the spot) Much later, post 'Fall' I think...I think it's in Empires and Barbarians by Heather but my son has stolen my copy and taken it to London. Still searching.

The 'slave market,' raises certain questions. Presumably there was some kind of collection location in the Rome area for such a vast traffic over centuries. One can't imagine that they were just dragged by the thousands willynilly through the streets in slave-trains or fed/sheltered just anywhere. There must have been some kind of approved place for their arrival in the area, and since it would be impossible to sell everyone the day he arrived, their feeding/sheltering before onward sale?
Quote:Empires and Barbarians by Heather

Ah yes, here it is - although the map is French and the slavers are Slavic / Rus, so we're a long way from Rome! Plus the whole thing has the flavour of medieval geographer's tall tales about it!:

Heather on 'points de castration'

About slave markets - I'm sure somebody must have made a study of this! The numbers of slaves taken in the Gallic War, for example, would have surely needed some established infrastructure to process and distribute?

Individual merchants or consortia probably handled most of this, rather than the Roman state, and there were plenty of warehouses to keep them in (or, perhaps, cryptoporti under forums - the one in Arles was suggested as a 'slave barracks', I think). But while in the field, before the merchants took over, how would these masses of slaves be accommodated and hustled about the place?
You're asking me? I'm the scrawny Immunis and you're the brawny Praefectus Castrorum!
Thanks again,
In this scene from Trajan's Column, the structure on the right has been interpreted as a POW camp for Dacian prisoners:
Quote:You're asking me?

I was sort of asking everybody actually, but go ahead!... :-)

Quote:a POW camp for Dacian prisoners

Yes, it looks that way. So actual fortified pens or mini-camps to hold prisoners might not be such a wild idea?
Who are all those bearded men in the pen at the right? Are the Dacians the barechested guys in trousers in the foreground? And the wall looks quite solid to me, made of fitted stone, and not a camp palisade of stakes.

The bearded men are the Dacian prisoners, some of whom wear the characteristic Dacian cap. The "barechested guys" are Roman auxiliaries wearing mail shirts. The wall of the camp is made of turves, the stone-like appearance being the way in which this type of construction is represented on the Column.
Without being too cynical, Vindolanda are very good at releasing this sort of press information when the tourist season starts...POWs in most mind = The Great Escape = WWII = 70th Anniversary thereof...

I would much rather have firmer archaeological evidence than just speculation - what proves it was for prisoners?
Ah, but this story dates back to August 2000. It passed me by then and I haven't heard of it since, until now.

That said, Vindolanda has form for rushing out half-baked theories that later prove to be wrong. I am old enough to remember the mid-1970s, when they suggested that Roman soldiers lived in squalor. They had excavated what they thought were a centurion's quarters and had found evidence of faeces and urine on the floor. As you may imagine, this caused a certain amount of consternation at the time. Further investigation proved it to have been a tannery!
And whats not to say that said 'prisoner of war camps' are in fact just glorified slave holding pens where prospective buyers come to collect their wares?
Quote:the wall looks quite solid to me, made of fitted stone

The architecture on Trajan's Column often looks like painted theatrical flats to me - in this case you can even see the gaps at the corners! Perhaps it was supposed to look like that, for some curious Roman reason...

Quote:Ah, but this story dates back to August 2000.

A more recent theory has the huts as accomodation for refugees:

Vindolanda Roundhouses

It seems that everyone studying Vindolanda is obliged to come up with their own slightly different interpretation of the purpose of these huts - I think it was Professor Mann who proposed the 'North African levies' idea, then one of the other Birleys who suggested a prison camp, or a holding area for high-status hostages, and somebody else thought it was for native labourers... Seems we'll never know.

However, since the huts were quite roomy and had fitted hearths, it seems unlikely that they were intended as basic slave pens. I think the hostages/exiles explanation might be most convincing.