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Did Romans bury soldiers in armor or save the armor
#1
I was wondering what the consensus is on if Romans in general buried their soldiers with helmets and armor or reused it for other soldiers.
Mark
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#2
(08-31-2018, 10:23 PM)mrmovieprop Wrote: I was wondering what the consensus is on if Romans in general buried their soldiers with helmets and armor or reused it for other soldiers.

Sadly they did not bury anyone with armour. If they had, we would have a much better idea of Roman armour and equipment at various stages of history!

The few bits of armour we do have were generally either discarded or lost, accidentally or in battle; there are a few barbarian burials from a later era that feature military equipment, some of it Roman.

The only similar thing I can think of is a helmet from the 1st century BC used as a cinerary urn and recently found in Kent - Romans burned rather than buried their dead before the 2nd century AD.

Armour and equipment was generally sold or given to other men on death or discharge; there are quite a few Roman helmets with the names of several successive owners scratched into the metal!
Nathan Ross
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#3
(09-02-2018, 05:59 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:  there are quite a few Roman helmets with the names of several successive owners scratched into the metal!

Here is one such example: the neckguard of a 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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#4
The bronze mask from a cavalry sports helmet was supposedly found on the skull of the deceased in a tomb at Nola (now in the British Museum), and an iron mask is said to have come from a tomb at S. Agata de' Goti. For a cavalry sports helmet and (part of?) a mail shirt, there's the Chassenard burial

For weapons, see the burials at Camelon (spears, sword, shield boss), Lugdunum, Cologne [from 299 = p. 283 of pdf] and Durostorum (swords). 

I'm sure there are other examples of weapons and dona militaria from burials, but that's all I can think of at the moment and it certainly wasn't common practice.
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#5
Weapons burials of Roman soldiers are extremely uncommon until the late 4th century.
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#6
(09-10-2018, 01:44 PM)Flavivs Aetivs Wrote: Weapons burials of Roman soldiers are extremely uncommon until the late 4th century.

Can you post some examples? 

Thanks!
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#7
The Vermand Treasure is a pretty decent example (c. 371ish). The man was a Sarmatian in the Roman army. Another example is the Budapest III burial (c. 380ish), who also may have been a Sarmatian.

By the late 4th century Germanic influence had made weapons burials popular among the army. Usually though they were limited to lance heads and the like. Items that could be re-issued to new troops, like armor, helmets, and swords, are pretty rare in Roman weapons burials.

There's one burial from Romania we've been discussing on the FB Roman group. 5th Century, he was probably an Alan, and was in Roman service as he possessed a proper ridge helmet.
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#8
(09-18-2018, 06:06 PM)Flavivs Aetivs Wrote: The Vermand Treasure is a pretty decent example (c. 371ish). The man was a Sarmatian in the Roman army. Another example is the Budapest III burial (c. 380ish), who also may have been a Sarmatian.

By the late 4th century Germanic influence had made weapons burials popular among the army. Usually though they were limited to lance heads and the like. Items that could be re-issued to new troops, like armor, helmets, and swords, are pretty rare in Roman weapons burials.

There's one burial from Romania we've been discussing on the FB Roman group. 5th Century, he was probably an Alan, and was in Roman service as he possessed a proper ridge helmet.

My knowledge of Roman military equipment gets very hazy beyond the mid-4th cent., so this is most useful. Cheers!
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#9
Yeah I need to do another round of updates to my 5th century equipment guide.
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#10
(09-03-2018, 12:37 PM)Ross Cowan Wrote: For weapons, see the burials at Camelon (spears, sword, shield boss)...

Re. the Camelon burial, I've uploaded a pic to Flickr:
[Image: 43568062280_22c9e5d439_b.jpg]
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#11
I think the Velsen solder would count as a soldier buried in kit. In the fill of the well he was found in were two pottery vessels which were both close to the body and thus may well have been grave goods of some sort. The soldier, when buried was clothed (parts of his boots were found, along with two brooches which were probably associated with his clothing) and was still wearing his military belt, along with his pugio. However, there was no sword or helmet. Given that he was buried during the demolition of the fort, it is possible that he was killed in an accident while working and may in consequence not have been wearing most of his kit when he died. Presumably not a citizen, he was buried with the pots and whatever they contained, so presumably respectfully but hastily, in a well which was in the process of being filled in. Where the rest of his kit went is anybody's guess, as is why his belt and dagger were not salvaged. In all probability, his other items of equipment were passed on to other soldiers in need of them, but it may not have been quite so simple administratively.

We do indeed have a number of helmets with multiple names punched onto them, indicating a succession of owners. However we also have a surviving letter from a military unit to the mother of a dead soldier, listing payment to her for his equipment, suggesting that the army had to buy back the equipment of dead soldiers from their legal heirs, as the equipment, having been paid for as it was by stoppages from pay, was the legal property of the soldier rather than simply unit kit issued to the soldier and thus still belonging to the unit.

Thus we see a situation where a unit wants to keep serviceable equipment in use for soldiers needing equipment and therefore retains it rather than allowing it to be interred with the dead soldier's remains, but to do so legally needs to pay its new legal owners for what under Roman law automatically becomes their (probably his father in most cases) property.

Added to the burials already mentioned we could add the Nijmegen burial and the Idria burial, both of which are early Imperial. There is also the mid second century Canterbury murder grave, where both men were buried with their swords.

Crispvs
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