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Use of 'old' equipment for later dates
#1
My fellow Roman history buffs,

Let me begin by saying that this is my first post on this forum. Until now I've managed to find all the answers I need on my own. A testament to the truly great wealth of knowledge that you all have gathered and posted over the years. But as I said, now I'm stumped. My google skills have failed me.

My question is regarding the use of 'old' equipment for later dates. I was wondering, since I heard that sometimes equipment was bought second hand from veterans, or that it was passed down from father to sons, can 'old' equipment be used for the later dates?

For example, can a simple legionary from the late 70's AD use a Mainz type sword? Or is that type of sword only acceptable for officers? What if the dad was a centurion who passed his Mainz gladius to his son? Would that be plausible?

The same goes of course for other equipment like the helmet. Wouldn't it be possible/plausible for a simple legionary, who doesn't have that much to spend, to buy a second third fourth hand me down Coolus helmet?

And here's the kicker regarding my questions. What are the sources for this? Is there a grave site from a simple legionary found among other legionaries with equipment from later dates?

I hope you all can help and enlighten me.

With kind regards,


cannonfodder90
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#2
I don't know how much I can help with your question, me just being an enthusiast, but I have been doing a project on the Tuetoburg battle which has some relevance.

During the turn of the First Millennia, the Roman army was transitioning their equipment from the older simple style helmets and mail armor to the more famous Italic style helmets and segmented armor. At Teutoburg, both styles were worn.

Now, what does that mean? The conclusion I came to for narrative purposes was to have older legionaries wear older style equipment while newer troops got newer kit. Ocourse, that's my own conclusion with very little information on the topic, but there is a logic to it.

As for a poor legionary getting used equipment, that is a mute point by imperial times. The equipment was issued by the state and the legionary had the cost deducted from his pay. Rich or poor, it was more dependent on what equipment was available to issue.

Could a less important region be issued hand-me-down equipment? I guess that could be. Then again, why spend the money on shipping used equipment across the empire when it likely doesn't have much life left in it? It seems to be, in my simple mind, more cost effective to sell that equipment to allied states to bolster their military, which is something we know the Romans did.

Another scenario is that the Army sent the older equipment to the Auxiliary troops while the proper Legionaries got the good stuff.

For the Centurion example, I read somewhere, (I'm sorry, I forget where,) that to a Roman mind, it was better to make a new sword for a family member then it was to hand one down. A sword didn't have the same sentimental value to a Roman then it did to later Medieval minds. At least, not in the Principate.

I don't know if any of that helped. Hopefully, more knowledgeable individuals with post.
Daniel DeVargas
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#3
(08-04-2019, 11:39 PM)cannonfodder90 Wrote: Wouldn't it be possible/plausible for a simple legionary, who doesn't have that much to spend, to buy a second third fourth hand me down Coolus helmet?

There are Roman helmets with several different names punched into the rims (we discussed this here quite recently but I can't find the thread), so we know that this 'recycling' or passing on of older equipment must have gone on to some extent, and was probably quite common.

Excepting a few major changes in fashion or overall style (3rd to 4th century, for example), Roman military equipment tended to change relatively slowly, so there would be no practical reason why older types of equipment or armour would not have remained in use.

A lot of the time we can only date individual helmets or swords or whatever very approximately, and we have no way of knowing how long a particular style persisted. Mail and scale were used throughout the imperial period, alongside segmentata, and there are bronze 'Coolus' helmets dating the later 1st century. The 'Montefortino' style of helmet was apparently made and used for hundreds of years!
Nathan Ross
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#4
Nathan Ross Wrote:There are Roman helmets with several different names punched into the rims

Here is an example, a Coolus helmet from London.

   
Michael King Macdona

And do as adversaries do in law, -
Strive mightily, but eat and drink as friends.
(The Taming of the Shrew: Act 1, Scene 2)
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#5
(08-12-2019, 10:12 PM)Renatus Wrote: Here is an example

Thanks. I know that you or somebody else shared that same image recently, but the thread in which it featured appears to have gone...
Nathan Ross
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#6
(08-12-2019, 10:28 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(08-12-2019, 10:12 PM)Renatus Wrote: Here is an example

Thanks. I know that you or somebody else shared that same image recently, but the thread in which it featured appears to have gone...

Would this be the one:

https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/showth...iers+names

or this:

https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/showth...oman+names

There are 18 pages of posts including the terms "Soldiers Names" and 25 pages including the terms "Roman Names" on the forum, I always find it best to keep it simple with a search anywhere and refine as necesary...



It might be worth remembering that whilst we live in an incredibly wastefull society, Older civilisations didnt necesarily.

In anycase how old is old?, I would imagine given the evidence for recycling that pretty much anything worth doing so would be taken apart for components/materials once its effective life was ended and in some cases maybe even before, ie its damaged or worn out beyond repair or the component materials are more valuable or usefull for other things, otherwise I would expect it to stay in service (or storage at least) untill that point.
Ivor

"And the four bare walls stand on the seashore. a wreck a skeleton a monument of that instability and vicissitude to which all things human are subject. Not a dwelling within sight, and the farm labourer, and curious traveller, are the only persons that ever visit the scene where once so many thousands were congregated." T.Lewin 1867
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#7
(08-13-2019, 08:28 AM)Crispianus Wrote: Would this be the one:

https://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/showth...iers+names

That was it, yes - thanks!
Nathan Ross
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#8
Thanks for your toughts so far! It's nice to see that so many people are willing to shed their light on questions from complete strangers so willingly.

And perhaps to anwser a part of my own question. I recently talked to a smith who makes blades and such. I asked him the same question regarding Mainz swords at later dates. He told me that while it could be possible, there is a time limit to it. Because the blade could only be sharpend so many times before it's no longer usable/suitable. He talked about two enlistment terms (each term being 25 years.) So 50 years after the forging of the sword a replacement should be sought. And I personally don't know, but it seems out of place to forge a new Mainz sword during a time where Pompei swords are already being mass produced. But as a I said, I don't know myself for sure. Since it seems equally out of place that there would be a hard cuttof date for the cessation of making Mainz swords. It's not like smiths went: "Well boys it's 50 AD let's all switch to this new design!" I believe mr Ross when he said that "equipment tended to change relatively slowly". His statement seems to make sense to me, considering the evidence of the multiple use helmet and multiple century mail use.

Once again, thank you all for the information so far.

With kind regards,

cannonfodder90
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