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We all have seen on Trajan's column the scene of medics following up a wounded legionary.<br>
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What was the impact of wounds on fatal casualties after a battle? Is there any serious research that compares the egyptian, greek and roman effectiveness in treating wounds as compared to medieval warfare in europe and the byzantine and arab worlds. I would think that the byzantines and arabs did better than in western europe as there was continuity with greek and roman knowledge.<br>
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If one sees the fancy tools of the roman doctor found in Pompei (the kit includes interchangable blades!) it would seem that a roman doctor could much to treat a fresh wound. But they didn't know the cause of infections. Maybe they noticed a correlation between fresh air, bandage and water with increasing the chances of healing but then even crystal clear water and white perfumed cloth can contain deadly bacteria....<br>
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Guest

Salve,<br>
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This title may be useful:<br>
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Salazar, C.F., <i> The treatment of war wounds in Graeco-Roman Antiquity</i> (Leiden 2000) 299p. Review<br>
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In addition you should get hold of the Visby reports (reference is somewhere in Goldsworthy's <i> Roman army at war</i>) for an overview of wounds inflicted in medieval warfare.<br>
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Regards,<br>
<br>
Sander van Dorst <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Hello all.<br>
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One important point about wounds in the roman era is they tended to be rather clean edged weapon wounds. If kept clean and treated promptly the risks of infection was minimal. At least presuming the intestines were not punctured, which would definitely lead to sepsis quite quckly. And Roman armor protected the vitals very well, meaning that such gut-wounds were rare.<br>
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Modern shrapnel wounds are much uglier, tending to be tears and also dragging all sorts of nasty critters in with them.<br>
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It should also be noted that the Roman army carried more medical support than anyone else had until the Crimean War.<br>
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WWB <p></p><i></i>
while looking up the effects of lead sling, I came across images of bullet wounds. If you have any notions that you can take a hit, look at this M16A2 'cavity' image. Compare this with a simple stab wound!<br>
Although Matt Amt is always saying a stab and twist in the gut is how the standard Roman thrust was taught. that would open up a cavity perhaps similar to the tumbling M16 round.<br>
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www.firearmstactical.com/...s/M855.jpg<br>
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<p>Aulus<br>
Legio XX<br>
ICQ 940236
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Anonymous

Wound cavities like that were one of the reasons why the world went to ~5.56mm (.223 caliber) rounds in the late sixities and seventies. A 7.62mm rifle bullet (what was generally used in all small arms until shortly after WWII) makes a very clean hole, and has enough kinetic energy that it will generally plow thru bones, etc. Even the shortened 7.62mm bullets which were used in the first generation of assault rifles had too much KE to make nasty, messy wounds like that one.<br>
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The lighter 5.56mm bullets lose KE faster, and are not as well jacketed, so they will bend, break and tumble in wounds. And a wounded man will cost an army much more than a dead guy.<br>
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But enough about us moderns. WRT the Romans, that stabbing strategy makes sense. Your opponents are generally not as well armored as you, and such a wound would definitely not be survivable in those days, and stands a fair chance of putting the enemy out of action.<br>
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WWB <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

5,56 mm bullets are very fast and it's not only the tumble that causes a cavity, it's is also the shock wave following the bullet.<br>
However, it doesn't always work. A girl friend of mine was wounded in the forearm while retrieving a wounded in one of Beyrouth's sniper alleys back in the late '70's. She is a very small --and courageous-- woman with thin, delicate arms. The bullet punched a clean hole through one of her forearms bones, I don't remember which. On the X-ray picture it looked as if it had been made by a power drill. That clean. The doctor didn't even put a cast on her arm. Just bandaged the wound and told her not to extert any strong pressure on her arm for a while..<br>
The doctor also told her she was lucky it had been an M-16 bullet, for with an AK bullet hitting at the same place the bone would have been shattered. <p></p><i></i>
Lets get back to the topic...<br>
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wwb mentioned:<br>
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<b><i>Quote:</i></b><hr> One important point about wounds in the roman era is they tended to be rather clean edged weapon wounds. If kept clean and treated promptly the risks of infection was minimal.<hr><br>
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Well, as long as you has you have enough antibiotic with you, this may work. But as we all know the danger comes not from the wound itself, but from dirt and bits of fabric pushed into the wound by the hit. If you imagine the conditions of almost any campaign: men sleeping on the ground, having not seen a bath or shower for days or weeks on end, garments that have not been cleaned properly for the same time...<br>
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I do not have any numbers for the Romans, but during the American civil war more men died of wound - fever than of bullets. (Yes Dan, I know we had an argument regarding comparing the civil war with Rome, but I had no other figure on hand.)<br>
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Helge<br>
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Roman antibiotic<br>
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They may not have known how it works, but back to Vinegar! This stuff is no "neosporin" but it can kill a lot of germs. Put it in stream water and drink it ( and have less stomach problems), pour it on wound dressings and speed healing. As long as the "gut" didn't get punctured and pour waste into the body, many people survived stab wounds before modern germ theory. We have archaeological records of people with calcified arrowheads in their remains, and that doesn't happen overnight. The main killers of solders, from antiquity through modern times are disease and accidents.<br>
The serendipity of drinking posca (vinegar in water) would prevent several of the more nasty diseases, and make the Roman soldier have a better survival rate!<br>
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Ok, I have an old ACW surgical manual, and I guess I should go and dig out the above referenced book, and see what other writings are still available from the time period, but alcohol and vinegar were both available and used by ancient physicians and medicus....... <p>"Just before class started, I looked in the big book where all the world's history is written, and it said...." Neil J. Hackett, PhD ancient history, professor OSU, 1987</p><i></i>
No, not the stuff you get in cans today, but older stuff that even today's doctors dont' seem to know about. Being I think a pine sap derivative, it is probably somewhat akin to maple sap, and the reason I bring it up is a story about my grandmother on the Oklahoma frontier.<br>
Seems around late 1920's the way to win elections, which was between Democratic candidate with my grandfather controlling the swing Republican vote, was with whiskey. Now Democrats would get the local folks and the Native Americans likkered up, and what with knives and all being common, usually folks got cut up (no pugios though). My grandmother once had a Cherokee come in with his back slashed to the ribs top to bottom. The story goes she got a bottle of turpentine out, and poured it over the wound, then got her needle and thread and sewed the guy up. Turned out none the worse for it. By the drop in sugar it also cured croup, but that's another story. No infection and apparently very little scarring.<br>
Now, did the Romans know to boil sap down? Lots of pine trees in Italy. Army pharmaceuticals would be a great study, particularly since so much is known about their surgical instruments.<br>
That turpentine was a folk remedy but was sold through pharmacies, my relatives recall. <p>Richard Campbell, Legio XX.
http://www.geocities.com/richsc53/studies/
ICQ 940236
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Anonymous

What about being slashed by a rusty, unkept sword blade? What would the Romans have done against that? Today we can get that shot (tetnice? tetanice?) to prevent that thing that happens to u when you get rust in your blood. Sorry, I don't really know what I am talking about, I just know rust is bad. <p>Tiberius Lantanius Magnus<BR>
CO/Optio,<BR>
Legio XXX "Ulpia Victrix"<BR>
(Matt)</p><i></i>

Anonymous

I know what you're talking about, Tiberius...the infamous "lock jaw". Rust is definately <i> not</i> our friend. <p><a href=http://pub45.ezboard.com/fromanarmytalkfrm6.showMessage?topicID=53.topic><u>Rules For Posting</u>






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I think far too much attention is placed on "stabbing" in the Roman army, everyone forgetting that the gladius was a double edged slashing weapon as well. There are many accounts of heads and limbs being severed in battle, and also archaeological evidence such as the British skeletons in the hill fort of Mai dun besieged by Vespasian. I seem to recall many sword cuts on the skulls and other bones. Dan <p></p><i></i>
I think far too much attention is placed on "stabbing" in the Roman army, everyone forgetting that the gladius was a double edged slashing weapon as well. There are many accounts of heads and limbs being severed in battle, and also archaeological evidence such as the British skeletons in the hill fort of Mai dun besieged by Vespasian. I seem to recall many sword cuts on the skulls and other bones. Dan <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

There is no doubt that before the advent of antibiotics and other infection-fighting medecines, people ran greater risks of infections such as gangrene when wounded.<br>
Tiberius' brother Drusus died of gangrene after falling off his horse. This is quite illustrative of the limits of medecine at that time since Drusus, a high ranking person, had access to the best doctors of the time.<br>
Nowadays very few people die of gangrene after breaking a leg.<br>
Besides two front teeth probably lost in a barroom brawl, the soldier whose body was found at Herculanum had a abnormal lump in the femur, indicating a stab wound that had penetrated to the bone (a spear?) and which had healed quite nicely thanks to the strong health of that 30 years old fellow.<br>
But after reading the frightening descriptions of later pre-antibiotics fields of battle like the napoleonic wars or the american civil war, one can only figure that a great proportion of people died of wounds after the battle.<br>
They had no efficient aenesthetics or pain killers either, by the way... <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

Tetanus is caused by the tetanus bacillus, a bacterium that grows anaerobically at the wound site. It has nothing to do with rust, which is merely oxidized iron. Red blood cells are full of iron. Hemoglobin is the iron-storing respiratory pigment in red blood cells. Iron in a wound is harmless. It's the bacterium that is lethal. <p></p><i></i>
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