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Roman commander observation tower?
#1
I'm reading a book about alternative Roman history, and there's something within that I've been wondering about. It's a fictional book, about what may have happened if Hannibal had won, but I'm not sure if I am allowed to divulge the name/author. Probably, but I dunno. Its not a historical source or anything, and i don't want what's written to slander the author. It is a pretty entertaining book.

Its about a command tower used during a battle, where the commander and about a dozen officers and signalers stood twenty feet above the battlefield and could direct and order their legions from this stationary platform. It was apparently made of iron-braced wood, fastened with iron pins, which could be easily dissembled and moved around. Riders would be at ground level ready to dispatch couriers. That's about all there is in its description.

I ran a few searches on here, but couldn't find anything relating to it (although, I'll admit I didn't look all that hard).

So? Any evidence of something like this being used? Granted, the book takes place in an alternate time line around 100 BC, but so far the author has done a fairly good job in keeping things real.

Although, the Archimedes death ray works in the book, and due to the course of action post Hannibal, Archimedes survived the siege at Syracuse and lived a remaining ten years in Alexandria, and as a result, a Archimedian school was built there, and by 100 BC they've figured out how to make submarines, periscopes, and turbines... a bit far fetched as far as I know, but who knows, I'm sure some of you guys more than me. It's the great thing about alternative history, I'd known since I'm writing my own alternative history fiction book.

I'm sure anybody who's read the book has already figured out which one I'm talking about, by now, but unless I get the go ahead, might as well keep the book itself under wraps.

Ideas?
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#2
Quote:... I'm not sure if I am allowed to divulge the name/author. ... i don't want what's written to slander the author.
Pretty mysterious! Smile

Quote:Its about a command tower used during a battle, where the commander and about a dozen officers and signalers stood twenty feet above the battlefield and could direct and order their legions from this stationary platform. ... So? Any evidence of something like this being used?
I illustrated such a tower in [amazon]Siege Warfare in the Roman World: 146 BC-AD 378[/amazon], Plate E (commentary on p. 62), based on Cassius Dio's description of Tiberius besieging the Dalmatian hill-town of Andetrium in AD 9.

Dio (text at Bill Thayer's Lacus Curtius web site) reports that Tiberius "took his seat on a platform in full view of all, in order not only to watch the struggle, since this would cause his men to fight more zealously, but also to be able to render opportune assistance, should there be any need of it" (56.13.4). Dio later refers to "those surrounding Tiberius" (56.14.3), so he clearly had a staff of officers with him. Naturally, of course, for security and in order to relay any orders.

Quote:I'm sure anybody who's read the book has already figured out which one I'm talking about, by now, but unless I get the go ahead, might as well keep the book itself under wraps.
Oh, go on -- tell us! Smile
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#3
LOL....too funny!
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#4
Quote:
Odysseus:cbwtryii Wrote:Its about a command tower used during a battle, where the commander and about a dozen officers and signalers stood twenty feet above the battlefield and could direct and order their legions from this stationary platform. ... So? Any evidence of something like this being used?
I illustrated such a tower in [amazon]Siege Warfare in the Roman World: 146 BC-AD 378[/amazon], Plate E (commentary on p. 62), based on Cassius Dio's description of Tiberius besieging the Dalmatian hill-town of Andetrium in AD 9.

Dio (text at Bill Thayer's Lacus Curtius web site) reports that Tiberius "took his seat on a platform in full view of all, in order not only to watch the struggle, since this would cause his men to fight more zealously, but also to be able to render opportune assistance, should there be any need of it" (56.13.4). Dio later refers to "those surrounding Tiberius" (56.14.3), so he clearly had a staff of officers with him. Naturally, of course, for security and in order to relay any orders.
I would say that the fact that Dio describes the tower suggests that its use was atypical. In other words, normally, generals were on their horses, moving up and down along the lines, shouting orders where necessary, and perhaps even taking part in the battle - the latter was uncommon (Roman generals were no Greek phalanx commanders) but did in fact happen: Vespasian for example led an attack on Jotapata. I think that generally speaking, the Roman general was not overseeing the battle as a whole, but tried to be close to his soldiers.
Jona Lendering
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#5
I tend the suspect they'd be more on horseback running around as well, but the tower idea isn't a bad one.

Anyway, its called "Hannibal's Children", by John Robert Maddox. Book two of three is called "The Seven Hills of Rome", with a third coming, at least I'd assume it will be considering book 2's ending. They're alright, fun alternative history books, but they aren't anything special.
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#6
Quote:... normally, generals were on their horses, moving up and down along the lines, shouting orders where necessary, and perhaps even taking part in the battle ...
It's maybe more a feature of sieges, where the action is fairly static. Cassius Dio says that Septimius Severus observed the siege of Hatra while seated on a high platform (Dio 76, 12; translation at Bill Thayer's Lacus Curtius site).
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#7
Caesar had geography to provide him wit a natural tower at Alesia... Smile
The idea of a tower in a field battle rings of the Persian Kings on their High Battle chariots when fighting Alexander....I can't recall if they actually had a platform or not though.
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#8
.. I'm not sure if I am allowed to divulge the name/author. ... i don't want what's written to slander the author.

Erich von Däniken, who else... maybe Bob Bryar.......
Smile )

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