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Byzantine Rations
I found this when I was flipin' through the book "Byzantium at War" and after all the info I have learned from this forum, I thought I would share.

Quote:The men were organised in tent-groups of eight, called kontoubernia, sharing a hand-mill and basic cooking utensils as well as a small troop of pack-animals.

Soldiers were issued with two main varieties of bread: simple baked loaves, and double-baked 'hard tack', referred to in late Roman times as bucellatum and by the Byzantines as paximadion or paximation. In campaign conditions, it was normally the soldiers themselves who milled and baked this.

The hard tack was more easily preserved over a longer period, was easy to produce, and demanded fairly simple milling and baking skills. Hard tack could be baked in field ovens - klibanoi - or simply laid in the ashes of camp fires, an advantage when speed was essential, and this was the case during this expedition - although the soldiers much preferred the best such bread, baked in thin oval loaves cooked in a field-oven, and then dried in the sun. The ration per diem included two to three pounds of bread and either dried meat or cheese; wine was also issued, but it is not clear how often or in what circumstances.

The amount of meat relative to the rest of the diet was often minimal or absent altogether, but would still provide a reasonable amount of nutrition, since ancient strains of wheat and barley had considerably higher protein content than modern strains, and it has been shown that the bread ration of ancient and medieval soldiers provided adequate nutrition for the duration of a campaign season even without much meat.
Thank you Sean.
Please work on the signature block, so you name appears at the bottom of your posts. Who is the author of that book or do you have an ISBN for it?
Caius Fabius Maior
Charles Foxtrot
moderator, Roman Army Talk
link to the rules for posting
Very nice stuff indeed. There is evidence, by the way, that paximadion came in different types and qualities, with the stuff made in Constantinmople being transported over considerable distances due to being in great demand.

For those who dread the prospect of eating a monotonous bread diet, be assured that there is evidence for seasioning bread in Byzantine times. The anonymous Peri Trophon Dynameos, translated by Andrew Dalby in his (highly recommendable) Flavours of Byzantium, states:

Quote:Bread made from wheat is the best... with moderate use of yeast and salt... with a little anise, fennel seed and mastic, it is very fine indeed. One with a hot constitution should include sesame in the dough. If wishing to add more moistness to the bread, knead in some almond oil.

I doubt your average groundpounder could afford such luxury most days, but to me this article suggests a habit of varying bread recipes with fats and different seasonings. BTW, I've tried it with almond oil, fennelseed, anise and mastic, and it is indeed quite good (though prohibitively expensive thanks to food-grade mastic prices having gone through the roof lately). And I do misdoubt the translation of 'yeast'. I don't have the origional terxt, sadly, but I suspect it means more generally 'leavening', referring to natural sourdough rather than ale barm or brewer's yeast.

For medieval Mediterranean breads, I play around with eggs, oils (olive, usually, but nut and almond oils work well, too) and sourdough. In more creative moments I also use soaked 'soft' wheat semolina (documented only to Republican Roman times, but bread recipes are vanishingly rare in the sources anyway), honey, nut meats, herbs and cheese. WE have these ingredients in Republican and Principate era sources and again in 14th century Italian cookbooks, so assuming continuity isn't too great a leap of faith.

And finally, if you are making improvised bread in camp and you can get oil, don't bake sub testudo, deep-fry the dough. It's fasdter, easier, and way tastier, especially if you first fry something flavourful in the opil. I have no evidence that this was done, but at a recent open-fire cooking experiment I fried onions, then deep-fried bread dough in the oil, and had a very satisfying meal from ubiquitous, relatively cheap ingredients.

Edit: I think that is: John Haldon: Byzantium at War (Osprey Essential Histories) ISBN-13: 978-1841763606
Der Kessel ist voll Bärks!

Volker Bach
Bukkelarioi got their name from hard tack.

Cerials were distributed by the administration.
Toops if they could afford or "comandeer" other staff they dould get various cured meats or even veggies preserved in oil or vinegar.
Some recipies survive even today

Kind regards

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