Full Version: The water bag of the Roman soldiers
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Marquita Volken's ideas about leather water containers really set the proverbial cat amongst the pigeons for those who thought they had the Roman 'marching pack' sorted out. Now you can read them for yourself (if you haven't already).

Mike Bishop
Would the skins have been tanned or rawhide? The author seems to imply tanned. In practical purposes, would there be a major difference between the two in terms of leakage or taste?

Sallust Bellum Jugurthinum 91 states that Marius had distributed cattle among the men and then had them make water skins with the hides. This had to be rawhide since tanning takes almost two years.
The author seems to think neither tanned nor rawhide, but cured. "A water skin may be cured by oiling and/or salting but, not being a tanned leather product, it must be treated carefully." (p. 270)

Which makes sense to me. I don't think leather is a very ideal medium for water storage, and rawhide would putrefy.
In 2011, some students from the Freiburg university made a reconstruction based on the article by M. Volken.

You can read more in this book, Die Roemische Armee im Experiment (see here ) which I would recommend to any serious reenactor. Also other interesting subjects are covered, like for example a reconstruction of wood water barrels found at Augst, and use of the Ramshaw boot on march.

The students who made the reconstruction had to make concessions on the hygiene part, so they made it in tanned leather anyway. However, they discovered that their tanned leather product had minimal water loss too if prepared with oil .
I think this is already discussed here: