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Dura-Europos shield cover
#1
(This is reposted from a reply in the topic "Roman Shield Emblem Database," put here to be more on topic and for greater visibility...)

From a very brief source on a leather shield cover from Dura-Europos:
"One of the objects discovered by Cumont, during the second season of excavation in 1923, was the remains of the leather covering for a shield, now in the Louvre. Like many shields from Dura, it was painted, but not with the usual emblems or mythological scenes. Instead, it shows a map of the eastern Mediterranean... Indicated on this map are the names of a number of towns written in Greek. It is the itinerary of a soldier who has traced his course, station by station, from the Black Sea and the Danube frontier to the Mediterranean and ultimately to Dura." (p. 6)
C. McClendon, "Introductory Remarks: The Legacy of Dura-Europos," in Rome and the Provinces: Studies in the Transformation of Art and Architecture in the Mediterranean World, 1986, New Haven Society of the AIA.

The original publication reference (as seen in the scanned image) is Franz Cumont, Fouilles de Dura-Europos (1922-1923), (Paris, 1926), vol. 1 pp 323-327, vol. 2 plate CIX. I do not have access to this original publication.

I'd never heard of this before. Does anyone have more information or a more recent reference?
As Crispvs asked in the other thread, How do we know it comes from a shield cover? Are there still rolled edges present?
Dan Diffendale
Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan
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#2
What can I say?

Wow.
~ Paul Elliott

The Last Legionary
This book details the lives of Late Roman legionaries garrisoned in Britain in 400AD. It covers everything from battle to rations, camp duties to clothing.
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#3
What colours were used, does the report say something about that?
Christian K.

No reconstruendum => No reconstruction.

Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas.

LEGIO XIII GEMINA

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#4
Quote:What colours were used, does the report say something about that?

I quoted the brief report in its entirety. Someone would need to find Fouilles de Dura-Europos, I think. I might be able to get it in a couple of weeks when I get back to Philadelphia, but until then little chance.
Dan Diffendale
Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan
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#5
The shield cover with the painted itinerary found at Sâlihîyeh/Dura Europos is also published in the following works:
- F.Cumont, Revue Archéologique 2 (1924) 201
- F.Cumont, ‘Fragment de bouclier portant une liste d’étapes’, Syria 6 (1925) 1-15
- P.Couissin, Les armes romaines. Essai sur les origines et l’évolution des armes individuelles du légionnaire romain, Paris (1926)
- R.Uhden, ‘Bemerkungen zu dem römischen Kartenfragment von Dura Europos’, Hermes 67 (1932) 117-125
- N.J.E.Austin and N.B.Rankov, Exploratio: Military and political intelligence in the Roman World, (1995) p.115
- O.A.W.Dilke, Greek and Roman maps, (1998) 112, 120-122, 145, 148, 169

It is said that the fragmentary map shows the itinerary/postings of its owner a Palmyrene archer in the eastern Mediterranean including the distance in miles between the various stations (Odessos/Varna, Trapezus/Trebizond, Artaxata in Armenia). It is dated in the early 3rd century A.D.. Rankov says that the practice of painting shields in this fashion is mentioned by Ovid, Metamorphoses V.188-9, XIII.110.
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#6
Many thanks, Patrick! I knew someone around here must know something.

The relevant Ovid:
Met. V.187-189
at Nileus, qui se genitum septemplice Nilo
ementitus erat, clipeo quoque flumina septem
argento partim, partim caelaverat auro,


"But Nileus, who pretended to have sprung from the seven-part Nile, had raised/engraved seven rivers on his shield (clipeus) part in silver, part in gold..."

Met. XIII.103-111
Quo tamen haec Ithaco, qui clam, qui semper inermis
rem gerit et furtis incautum decipit hostem?
ipse nitor galeae claro radiantis ab auro
insidias prodet manifestabitque latentem;
sed neque Dulichius sub Achillis casside vertex
pondera tanta feret, nec non onerosa gravisque
Pelias hasta potest inbellibus esse lacertis,
nec clipeus vasti caelatus imagine mundi
conveniet timidae nataeque ad furta sinistrae:


"...nor the shield raised/engraved with the image of the vast world..."

I'm not sure we can trust this second reference to accurately mirror 1st c. CE practice. Ovid is here referring to the arms of Odysseus (Ithacus), which were of course originally the arms of Achilles, whose famous shield was worked by the god Hephaestus to include "earth, the heavens, and the sea" (Iliad 18.479-609). That's not to exclude the possibility that 1st or 3rd century Roman soldiers were modeling their decorations on the Homeric Shield of Achilles, just that there's a clear literary precedent for Ovid's description and somewhat less clear archaeological precedent.
Dan Diffendale
Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan
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#7
Here's an update... now that I'm back at Penn I have a much better library at my disposal. I've taken a look at all the references Patrick listed (aside from Dilke, who's checked out).

I photographed (once I have borrowing privileges I can scan) these illustrations from a fold-out accompanying Cumont's article 'Un extrait d'une carte romaine d'etat-major' in La Geographie XLIII, 1925, 1-5, which is a briefer version of his article ‘Fragment de bouclier portant une liste d’étapes’, Syria 6 (1925) 1-15. The fold-out is identical in both, but it was better preserved here in La Geographie.

This fragment measures 45 cm by 18 cm, and Cumont estimates that the full width would be about 65 cm. The shield would seem to belong to a soldier of the Cohors XX Palmyrenorum who were stationed at Dura.

I'll post more details once I've had a chance to wade through the French and German...
Dan Diffendale
Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan
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#8
Looks more like a shield facing to me.
Thanks! laudes for you!
Christian K.

No reconstruendum => No reconstruction.

Ut desint vires, tamen est laudanda voluntas.

LEGIO XIII GEMINA

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#9
The curve seems a bit odd, I'll wait until you've had a chance to scan it though.

Thanks for the pictures!
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#10
Quote:The curve seems a bit odd, I'll wait until you've had a chance to scan it though.
As it's a map the curve would be a coastline, and not a curve parallel with the shield edge, I'd have thought.
TARBICvS/Jim Bowers
A A A DESEDO DESEDO!
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#11
Avete omnes,

marvelous pictures, Danno, thank You for that. When I saw them firstly I had the idea: could we not see here the original remnants of a shield cover from the Notitia Dignitatum? The Notitia is full with clipei that show round shields with blue ground and a red rim, that would match perfectly to this beautiful piece! Alone the list of the Magister Peditum contains several examples:

[url:w1cpgx4n]http://www.ne.jp/asahi/luke/ueda-sarson/MagisterPeditum.html[/url]

We know that soldiers at all times decorated their personal gear in individual kind. In this case the soldier would have painted the stations of his service on the official shield cover of his unit.

Just a thought ...

Greets - Uwe
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#12
Here are a couple of scans from F. Cumont 'Un extrait d'une carte romaine d'etat-major' in La Geographie XLIII, 1925, 1-5. As it turns out I couldn't check it out, so I had to use the small scanner in the library and couldn't fit it all at once. I have larger images - PM me if you'd like them.

After a century of mouldering in the Louvre, I wonder what it looks like today.

No chance I suppose of figuring out what happened to the Cohors XX Palmyrenorum after it left Dura?
Dan Diffendale
Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan
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#13
I don't have Simon James's volume to hand, but I think he says that Cumont's map is no longer thought to be a shield facing; apparently, it's simply a fragment of a map.

(I'm not sure why Cumont thought it was a shield facing in the first place.)
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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#14
Quote:I don't have Simon James's volume to hand, but I think he says that Cumont's map is no longer thought to be a shield facing; apparently, it's simply a fragment of a map.

(I'm not sure why Cumont thought it was a shield facing in the first place.)

Hmm. So much for that then. Does anyone happen to have James at hand to confirm this? Any suggestions as to what sort of map it was, then... that is, do you hang it on your wall and admire it, hang it on your wall and consult it, or do you roll it up and consult it on your way around the Black Sea?
Dan Diffendale
Ph.D. candidate, University of Michigan
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#15
This map is mentioned on p. 25 of James' book. He cites three publications that discuss the debunking of the shield covering idea:
Rebuffat, R.,1986 'Le bouclier de Doura' in Syria LXIII, 85-105

Arnaud, P., 1988 'Observationssur l'original du fragment de carte du pseudo-bouclier de Doura-Europos,' in Revue des Études Anciennes 90, 151-156

Arnaud, P., 'Une deuxieme lecture du 'bouclier" de Doura-Europos,' CRAI, 373-87.

I'm glad this topic came up! I read about the 'shield-map' in Hopkins' "The Discovery of Dura Europos" and hadn't heard anything contrary to that supposition until today when Patrick mentioned this post.


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