Vol. VII, no. xii, December 1997
DUES DUES DUES
It is time. Members should dig into their armpurses and pay $5 (Yes, that's FIVE DOLLARS) to MATTHEW R. AMT. Drop it into my hot little hands in person, or send it to me. Non-members (Associates/Subscribers/Mailing List/Distant Orphans/Etc.) will be advised of their status and obligations. Thank You!
There is a workshop tentatively scheduled for January 24 or 25 at Mark and Lollita Graef's new house. Call them at 703---, or Quintus, for details and directions.
Thanks to all who came the Saturnalia happenings! We actually accomplished a few things at the workshop (never enough, I know!), and I don't think anyone left hungry.
Gosh, already? Yes, it's time to start thinking about spring events, starting with Military Through the Ages at Jamestown Settlement, March 21-22, 1998. I've heard rumors that the camps will be back in the trees again. Anything else you need to know? CONTACT QUINTUS WITH YOUR PLANS!!
Roman Army: Wars of the Empire, by Graham Sumner. London: Brassey's Ltd, 1997. Brassey's History of Uniforms series.
Lots of people are talking about this book. It holds no great new revelations and probably won't change anybody's life, but there are some interesting new tidbits. For instance, a nice repro of an Imperial Gallic type B helmet, and an original suit of crocodile hide armor from Egypt. Oh, and remember those eight wool fragments from Vindolanda that had traces of madder dye? Those (plus a purple one) were the only pieces with detectable dye traces out of FIFTY that were analysed. Now, maybe centuries of deterioration had simply erased all traces from some of the other scraps, but... He also sheds light on the "turf cutter", pointing out that it is lousy for cutting turf (we knew that--it's shape deters you from stepping on it like a spade), but great for stripping bark off tree limbs and trunks (bark was used for leather tanning).
The illustrations are an attractive mix of color paintings by Graham Turner; black and white drawings of reliefs and artifacts; and photos of reenactors and reconstructed gear, including a subarmalis, fabulous cavalry sports equipment, and some other items that we haven't seen before. There is an interesting section on the history of reconstructing Roman militaria, including artworks dating back to the Renaissance, a half-century of Hollywood, and the beginnings of Roman reenacting. But the most exciting thing is way in the back on page 141, under "Societies, Journals and Publications", where you will find a listing for the Twentieth Legion, with my address! I have already gotten a letter from someone who saw it there. Other groups listed include Legio XIIII (Germany), Legio IX (San Diego), and of course the Ermine Street Guard, of which Mr. Sumner is a member.
This book may not replace any major works that we have grown used to, but it does summarize the latest information, with excellent photos of what reenactors have done with that information. Aside from numerous typographical errors (Brassey's needs a proofreader!), it will make a good addition to your library.
CARMEN (You probably know the tune)
Dead Celts roasting on an open fire
Short swords nipping at your nose
Wartime songs being sung by a legion
And corpses dressed in shades of woad
Everybody knows a druid and some mistletoe
Help to make the fire bright
Tiny Celts with their homes all aglow
Won't find it hard to sleep tonight
They know that Caesar's on his way
He's finding lots of Celt barbarians to slay
And ev'ry mother's child is gonna fry
After the Romans make their parents die
And so I'm offering this simple phrase
To Celts from one to ninety-two
Altho' it's been said many times, many ways:
"Rome will always beat you!"
After much speculation about how tall Romans were, but too few facts, I finally ran across some real numbers in, of all places, a kids' book called The Secrets of Vesuvius by Sara C. Bisel. She is an anthropologist who worked on 139 skeletons found at the Herculaneum waterfront. According to her measurements, "the average Herculanean man was 5 feet 5 inches (165 centimeters) tall, the average woman 5 feet 1 inch (155 centimeters)." The soldier excavated there was 5'8" tall. Last I heard, modern average male height in the U.S. was 5'8-1/2" to 5'9". Vegetius (late 4th century AD) says that "the ancients" required recruits for a cavalry ala or the first cohort of a legion to be six (Roman) feet tall (modern equivalent 5'10"), or at least 5'10" (Roman)(modern 5'8"). We can still speculate that maybe better nutrition made freeborn people a tad taller than slaves (since this sample includes both), or that maybe soldiers averaged a little taller than civilians. But this is all the hard data I have, and it seems to be from a good cross-section of the population. So, when someone asks you, "Weren't they a lot shorter back then?" well, that depends on whether you think 4 inches is a lot. After all, from my altitude, 5'9" is pretty stubby.
CALENDAR--Contact Quintus for all the details of these
January 24 or 25, 1998--Workshop at Mark Graef's house, hopefully.
February 14?--Lupercalia--anyone want a party?
March 21-22--Military Through the Ages, Jamestown, VA. The usual major event.
March 28--Afternoon camp/demo in Harrisonburg, VA for a school festival. Set up about 1 PM, do our thing when they want us to, indoors if the weather is bad! They'll feed us supper.
April 18-19--Marching Through Time, Marietta Mansion, Glenn Dale, MD. As usual, we will set up on Friday for school groups.
April 21--Rome's Birthday. Remember it!
June ?--Yes, I'm starting to plan a pan-ancient gathering, probably at Marietta. Tentative plans: living history camps and displays for the authentic groups including civilians, modern camp/base area for the non-historical types; demos of drill and tactics, plus competitive fighting; hopefully a couple merchants; competitions like Armor Race, Pilum Chucking, Slinging & Archery, Hamata Toss, Ball games, etc. Proposed time period, 500 BC to 500 AD, including Romans, Greeks (know any?), even Celts. Open to the public c. 10 AM to 4 PM. Any more ideas? What'll we call it? (RomaCon, East Coast Ancient Festival, LegionFest '98, Place of the Ancients, Eternal City, etc.)
ADLOCVTIO is the official newsletter of the Twentieth Legion, and is published roughly (or roughly published) on the Ides of each month: the 15th of March, May, July, and October, and the 13th of all other months. Articles submitted for publication are welcome, just contact the same guy you've been talking to for everything else: Matthew R. Amt... The Legion's web site is at http://www.geocities.com/Yosemite/3761/legndx.htm **VALETE**