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Late Roman belt
#16
Thanks Matt- I've sent Stu an email. He has also got a new book out btw, Unroman Britain.
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#17
Re:Unroman Britain. I know, he very kindly sent me a copy to replace the one I left in Libya. I'm not convinced by some of it (which I blame Miles for Wink)but it's well done.
"Medicus" Matt Bunker

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#18
This is indeed a beautiful belt.

I think the belt of a Roman soldier, especially a Roman soldier in Britain, will tell you a great deal about him. Bar stiffeners, chipped plate buckles and strap ends and “dragon headed” buckles, are all very late and very southern in a British context. They could be interpreted as items used by more fashionable troops, probably from the continent, operating south of the Thames and in the case of the dragon headed buckles, along the south east coast. A dragon buckle with a fixed plate would be rare outside Kent.

So in Britain it could be the case that mobile field army troops could leave behind such fittings, while more static soldiers would continue using propeller stiffeners etc. You could try and make a distinction between mobile field army troops and those “in garrison”. But I suspect that it is much harder to make such a distinction on the continent where troops were closer to the centres of production.

I would like to know more about the use of bone in such belts. And I too like the method of sword suspension. Late Roman re-enactors from German often seem to have a different interpretation of sword suspension. I have always suspected that it has something to do with the interpretation of the sword furniture from the 3rd century bog deposits, and this interpretation has influenced the German interpretation of later suspension methods. It is an interesting approach that sounds as if it might be about to jump the Atlantic. Confusedmile:
John Conyard

York

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#19
Thanks John. Re the bone stiffeners:-

My understanding from my very bad German is that the bone is derived from the existence of 20 copper ally rivets- which I assume were wider than the supposed leather.

The options are then:-

- The rivets were simply decoration
-The rivets held something that no longer exists.

If the latter, the most logical option is a belt stiffener as per the Dorchester belt. As per materials, the options are (i think) iron or bone. The decorations on the bone are conjectural but in period.

Can anyone with better German than mine, or with measurements from the rivets, confirm if I've got this right?
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#20
I just read the documentation on the contubernium page and the information regarding the rivets is:

The 20 "extra" rivets are at least twice as long as all the other rivets found with the belt - except for those connected to item 3jj which is taken as evidence by the author of the original publication that a separate piece of leather was rivetted to the belt which acts as "the narrow part that connects to the buckle" (Is there an English term for that part, my sentence sounds a bit awkward...)
Andreas Riegel
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#21
That seems to be the sum of the argument. 20 SILVER rivets were found (copper ones were used for the reconstruction) which were twice the length of the rivets associated with other belt components, indicating that they held something thicker than the copper alloy plates onto the belt.
What isn't clear from the description is where the rivets were found in relation to the belt? Was it in a position that means that they are definately associated?

I'm hoping that the find report (which was delivered to my door about 10 minutes ago...Antikmakler and the German postal system are VERY efficient)will clarify this.
"Medicus" Matt Bunker

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#22
We wait with bated breath Mr BunkerBig Grin .

Would be nice if at some point bone stiffeners could be evidenced as they are certainly asthetically pleasing!
Marc Byrne
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#23
All I'm going to say at the moment is that, compared with British site reports, the standard of archaeological drawing in this report leaves a lot to be desired.
"Medicus" Matt Bunker

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#24
Which - unfortunately - is the case with many site reports.

But anyway - I would expect that the 20 silver-plated bronze rivets of that belt would not be exactly in situ after such a long time.

Were late roman belts typically "worn" by the deceased at the time of burial, or rather put next to him?
Andreas Riegel
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#25
Quote:Were late roman belts typically "worn" by the deceased at the time of burial, or rather put next to him?

In the reports I've looked at, the belts generally have been laid lengthwise or across the deceased, rather than having the appearance of being worn. If memory serves, I believe in Sommer, Markus, Die Gürtel und Gürtelbeschlage des 4. und 5. Jahrhunderts im römischen Reich. Bonn : Rheinische Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität, 1984, there are diagrams of the find positions of some belts.

Hope this is a help,

Lucianus
L.E. Pearson
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#26
The long rivets are definately associated with the belt which seems to have been rolled up and placed in the bottom left corner of the grave cut. No evidence of an associated sword or scabbard apart form a chape which, judging by it's relation to the belt and the rest of the grave cut, was interred on it's own, rather than as part of a scabbard assembly. Other belts in the cemetery are either layed out lengthways next to the body or curled up. None seem to have been worn. There's at least one other example where there are multiple long rivets associated with a belt set.

Whilst I'm sure that the rivets were for fixing stiffeners, I doubt they were bone, given the excellent state of bone and antler preservation in other graves in the cemetery (including one immediately adjacent to it). Wood or thick leather would my guess. Next week I'll sit down with my Germam/English dictionary and see if the text gives any indication of material found adhering to the rivets.
"Medicus" Matt Bunker

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#27
Aw, great stuff indeed.

Quote:
Caballo post=288781 Wrote:I suggest that these belts all belong to the Field Army, and their wide spread use yet similarity reflects this mobile force?
I don't think they can be limited to just the field army though, as they turn up in urban cemeteries in graves with no other military items(eg Lankhills).
They're also depicted on mosaics of the period. I think all of the hunters on the Romano del Tellaro hunt mosaic are wearing wide belts....mind you, I suppose that with their spears and shields, that could be depicting a military unit out hunting whilst it's commanders relax and drink hot wine.
I agree with Matt. Continental evidence would also not bear that out, belts like these were military, but not limited to the field army alone I think.
The hunters were almost certainly military. We see such hunts too on the Villa Armerina mosaic, plkus the 'military hunt' as training practise is advocated by Maurice for one, but others too if memory serves me.

Quote:
Caballo post=288801 Wrote:And I agree re wide belts being much used- but I was more thinking about the dragon headed buckles, belt stiffeners and strap ends as indicators of the Field army rather than just the width of the belt? Thoughts?
Ahh, I'm not familiar enough with specific distribution patterns in Europe to debate this; we need Stu Laycock to join in really.
"Soldiers and Settlers in Britain, 4th to 5th Century - Revisited (Leahy, in Collectanea Antiqua. BAR International Series 1673) takes a fresh look (after SC Hawkes)at the belt fitting evidence for Britain and proposes an interesting alternative to explain the quality and distribution of such fittings. Seen it yet?
Matt could you provide us with the full reference to that one please?
Robert Vermaat
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FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#28
Collectanea Antiqua: Essays in Memory of Sonia Chadwick Hawkes
edited by Martin Henig and Tyler Jo Smith
BAR 1673 Archaeopress 2007
ISBN-13: 978-1-4073-0108-2
"Medicus" Matt Bunker

[size=150:1m4mc8o1]WURSTWASSER![/size]
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#29
Thanks Matt!
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#30
Quote:That is gorgeous stuff! Any idea of the dimensions of that spear point?

Not sure, but it looks very much like the many spearheads in the Edinburgh Museum, which I have a few photos of! I posted them on here a year or so ago!

Alos one from the BM:

http://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=4...=1&theater
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