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Fwd: BMR: Roth, The Logistics of the Roman Army at War (264 BC-AD 235)

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  • Weingarten
    Channon asked for access to articles on Roman army rations. In case anyone else is interested, I am forwarding the relevant parts of a review of a brand new
    Message 1 of 2 , Nov 1, 1999
    • 0 Attachment
      Channon asked for access to articles on Roman army rations. In case anyone
      else is interested, I am forwarding the relevant parts of a review of a
      brand new book which deals in great detail with the subject, and should be
      easier to get hold of than the older articles.
      No price is mentioned, but books from Brill tend to be prohibitively
      expensive, so I would advise trying libraries first.

      Susan Weingarten
      Tel Aviv


      Sender: owner-bmr-l@...
      >Reply-To: bmr-l@...
      >
      >(From BMCR 99.11.1)
      >
      >Jonathan P. Roth, The Logistics of the Roman Army at War (264 BC - AD 235).
      >Leiden; Boston; Ko+ln: Brill, 1998. Pp. xxi + 400. ISBN 90-04-11271-5.
      >
      >Reviewed by Adrian Goldsworthy,
      >Penarth, South Wales,
      >CF64 1AE
      >Word Count: 2,092
      >
      >The supply of ancient armies in the field rarely receives much scholarly
      >attention, despite its widely acknowledged importance. Strategy and tactics
      >are easy to understand and, with hindsight, even easier to criticise, but
      >the science of equipping and feeding armed forces on campaign is extremely
      >technical, its mysteries understood by only a few initiates. Yet more than
      >anything else logistical constraints limit the activities of any army
      >during a war. The Roman Republic's aggressive and highly successful
      >war-making was made possible not just by its massive reserves of manpower,
      >but its ability to supply armies campaigning great distances away from
      >Italy. Similarly, all the discipline, tactical flexibility and superior
      >equipment of the later professional army would have been of little use
      >without the ability to feed men and animals in the field. How the Romans
      >did this is the subject of R's book.
      >
      >R begins with the basic daily ration of the Roman soldier. Here he argues
      >that modern historians have overestimated the basic nutritional
      >requirement, or in US Army parlance Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), for
      >the ancient soldier. Engels based his calculations for the needs of
      >Alexander's soldiers on the US Army's RDA for a 19 year old soldier in the
      >1960's, namely 3,600 calories. R points out that the average Roman
      >legionary was both smaller and older than the rank and file of modern
      >armies, suggesting an RDA of nearer 3,000 calories. This may seem a minor
      >point, but a one sixth reduction in the size of the basic daily ration
      >becomes a highly significant factor when it is remembered that we are
      >dealing with the problems of supplying armies of tens of thousands. The
      >Roman soldier's ration was divided into two main elements, frumentum (the
      >grain element) and the cibaria (everything else including meat and drink).
      >R argues for a daily grain ration of 2 sextarii, so that an eight man
      >contubernium received 1 modius, a reconstruction which is made all the more
      >plausible because it results in the allowance of every unit being a whole
      >number, for instance 60 modii for a cohort and 600 for a legion. Precise
      >allowances for the other parts of the ration are harder to judge, but R
      >argues that most modern scholars have overestimated the amount of meat
      >issued, basing it on nineteenth and twentieth century ration scales for
      >western armies all produced by cultures who have had an untypically high
      >proportion of meat in their diet. There may have been a little more
      >variation in the type and amount of meat issued to different types of
      >soldier that R allows. Bone finds from military sites in Britain show a
      >higher proportion of pig remains in legionary fortresses than auxiliary
      >forts. Whether this is a reflection of different dietary requirements,
      >preferences, or simply the problems of transportation is unclear. This
      >is one area where new finds of military documents on papyrus or wax writing
      >tablets may add to our knowledge, as for instance one of the recently
      >published late first century AD documents from Carlisle deals with the
      >issue of barley to cavalry turmae.
      >
      >Food and drink made up the vast bulk of the supplies needed by a Roman
      >army, since in comparison to modern armies their requirement for large
      >amounts of ammunition was minimal. In addition to feeding its soldiers, the
      >army had also to provide fodder for its mounts and baggage animals. Here R
      >emphasises that the amounts of fodder given as the recommended requirement
      >in recent military manuals tend to be very high, and that much smaller
      >amounts were actually issued by those same armies on campaign. In all but a
      >few areas, the fodder issued was supplemented by extensive grazing.
      >Firewood was another vital requirement for any Roman army, but one which it
      >is easy to overlook from a modern perspective, since the ration food was
      >prepared and cooked at the level of the 8-man contubernium and not issued
      >ready to eat.
      >R depicts a very flexible system, with the same army often employing
      >several different methods to supply itself. An army would forage where
      >possible to supplement the food carried with it or being brought along its
      >supply lines. Resources could be transported by land, sea or river
      >depending on which was the most suitable. In extreme conditions, such as in
      >the desert, an army might carry all of its water and the bulk of its other
      >supplies. The picture emerges of a very efficient, adaptable support
      >logistical structure, capable of supplying an operating army almost
      >anywhere, and it cannot be over emphasised just how much of an advantage
      >this gave the Romans over the majority of their opponents from the Later
      >Republic onwards.
      >
      >The efficiency of the Roman army's supply system and its ability to move
      >huge amounts of material over vast distances have implications for our
      >understanding of the ancient world outside the military sphere, for it is
      >in this context that we must judge the limits of civilian bureaucracy and
      >long distance trade. The forward planning involved in military supply was
      >massive. The neatness of the ration allocations for different types of
      >units suggested by R allowed the army to prepare effectively for the
      >operations of armies of a set size. R notes that the variation in the size
      >of Republican legions suggests that at this period planners had to base
      >their calculations on numbers of men rather than numbers of units. However,
      >it is also important to remember that the planning stage was not
      >necessarily reflected in the actual distribution of rations to the men,
      >which occurred at lower level.
      >
      >This is a very good book on an important subject.

      Note this forthcoming book as well:

      > A. King, 'Military and Civilian Dietary identity in Roman Britain: an
      >update', in A. Goldsworthy & I. Haynes, The Roman army as a community in
      >Peace and War. JRA Supplementary Series (forthcoming, 1999/2000), pp.
      >139-149.
      >
      >I think the JRA [=Journal of Roman Archaeology] series are published by
      >the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
      >S.W.

      Michael & Susan Weingarten
      Fax 972-3-9222045
      Tel-Aviv University
    • Robert Sulentic
      Thanks very much for the heads up on that book! Hochachtungsvoll, RNS Visit the Regiment Von Donop at: http://www.netaxs.com/~gothic/VonDonop.html Visit the
      Message 2 of 2 , Nov 2, 1999
      • 0 Attachment
        Thanks very much for the heads up on that book!

        Hochachtungsvoll,
        RNS
        Visit the Regiment Von Donop at: http://www.netaxs.com/~gothic/VonDonop.html
        Visit the Company of Select Marksmen at:
        http://www.globalserve.net/~lougheed/CSM_ID/
        -----Original Message-----
        From: Weingarten <weingml@...>
        To: apicius@onelist.com <apicius@onelist.com>
        Date: Tuesday, November 02, 1999 9:13 AM
        Subject: [Apicius] Fwd: BMR: Roth, The Logistics of the Roman Army at War
        (264 BC-AD 235)


        >From: Weingarten <weingml@...>
        >
        >Channon asked for access to articles on Roman army rations. In case anyone
        >else is interested, I am forwarding the relevant parts of a review of a
        >brand new book which deals in great detail with the subject, and should be
        >easier to get hold of than the older articles.
        >No price is mentioned, but books from Brill tend to be prohibitively
        >expensive, so I would advise trying libraries first.
        >
        >Susan Weingarten
        >Tel Aviv
        >
        >
        >Sender: owner-bmr-l@...
        >>Reply-To: bmr-l@...
        >>
        >>(From BMCR 99.11.1)
        >>
        >>Jonathan P. Roth, The Logistics of the Roman Army at War (264 BC - AD
        235).
        >>Leiden; Boston; Ko+ln: Brill, 1998. Pp. xxi + 400. ISBN 90-04-11271-5.
        >>
        >>Reviewed by Adrian Goldsworthy,
        >>Penarth, South Wales,
        >>CF64 1AE
        >>Word Count: 2,092
        >>
        >>The supply of ancient armies in the field rarely receives much scholarly
        >>attention, despite its widely acknowledged importance. Strategy and
        tactics
        >>are easy to understand and, with hindsight, even easier to criticise, but
        >>the science of equipping and feeding armed forces on campaign is extremely
        >>technical, its mysteries understood by only a few initiates. Yet more than
        >>anything else logistical constraints limit the activities of any army
        >>during a war. The Roman Republic's aggressive and highly successful
        >>war-making was made possible not just by its massive reserves of manpower,
        >>but its ability to supply armies campaigning great distances away from
        >>Italy. Similarly, all the discipline, tactical flexibility and superior
        >>equipment of the later professional army would have been of little use
        >>without the ability to feed men and animals in the field. How the Romans
        >>did this is the subject of R's book.
        >>
        >>R begins with the basic daily ration of the Roman soldier. Here he argues
        >>that modern historians have overestimated the basic nutritional
        >>requirement, or in US Army parlance Recommended Daily Allowance (RDA), for
        >>the ancient soldier. Engels based his calculations for the needs of
        >>Alexander's soldiers on the US Army's RDA for a 19 year old soldier in the
        >>1960's, namely 3,600 calories. R points out that the average Roman
        >>legionary was both smaller and older than the rank and file of modern
        >>armies, suggesting an RDA of nearer 3,000 calories. This may seem a minor
        >>point, but a one sixth reduction in the size of the basic daily ration
        >>becomes a highly significant factor when it is remembered that we are
        >>dealing with the problems of supplying armies of tens of thousands. The
        >>Roman soldier's ration was divided into two main elements, frumentum (the
        >>grain element) and the cibaria (everything else including meat and drink).
        >>R argues for a daily grain ration of 2 sextarii, so that an eight man
        >>contubernium received 1 modius, a reconstruction which is made all the
        more
        >>plausible because it results in the allowance of every unit being a whole
        >>number, for instance 60 modii for a cohort and 600 for a legion. Precise
        >>allowances for the other parts of the ration are harder to judge, but R
        >>argues that most modern scholars have overestimated the amount of meat
        >>issued, basing it on nineteenth and twentieth century ration scales for
        >>western armies all produced by cultures who have had an untypically high
        >>proportion of meat in their diet. There may have been a little more
        >>variation in the type and amount of meat issued to different types of
        >>soldier that R allows. Bone finds from military sites in Britain show a
        >>higher proportion of pig remains in legionary fortresses than auxiliary
        >>forts. Whether this is a reflection of different dietary requirements,
        >>preferences, or simply the problems of transportation is unclear. This
        >>is one area where new finds of military documents on papyrus or wax
        writing
        >>tablets may add to our knowledge, as for instance one of the recently
        >>published late first century AD documents from Carlisle deals with the
        >>issue of barley to cavalry turmae.
        >>
        >>Food and drink made up the vast bulk of the supplies needed by a Roman
        >>army, since in comparison to modern armies their requirement for large
        >>amounts of ammunition was minimal. In addition to feeding its soldiers,
        the
        >>army had also to provide fodder for its mounts and baggage animals. Here R
        >>emphasises that the amounts of fodder given as the recommended requirement
        >>in recent military manuals tend to be very high, and that much smaller
        >>amounts were actually issued by those same armies on campaign. In all but
        a
        >>few areas, the fodder issued was supplemented by extensive grazing.
        >>Firewood was another vital requirement for any Roman army, but one which
        it
        >>is easy to overlook from a modern perspective, since the ration food was
        >>prepared and cooked at the level of the 8-man contubernium and not issued
        >>ready to eat.
        >>R depicts a very flexible system, with the same army often employing
        >>several different methods to supply itself. An army would forage where
        >>possible to supplement the food carried with it or being brought along its
        >>supply lines. Resources could be transported by land, sea or river
        >>depending on which was the most suitable. In extreme conditions, such as
        in
        >>the desert, an army might carry all of its water and the bulk of its other
        >>supplies. The picture emerges of a very efficient, adaptable support
        >>logistical structure, capable of supplying an operating army almost
        >>anywhere, and it cannot be over emphasised just how much of an advantage
        >>this gave the Romans over the majority of their opponents from the Later
        >>Republic onwards.
        >>
        >>The efficiency of the Roman army's supply system and its ability to move
        >>huge amounts of material over vast distances have implications for our
        >>understanding of the ancient world outside the military sphere, for it is
        >>in this context that we must judge the limits of civilian bureaucracy and
        >>long distance trade. The forward planning involved in military supply was
        >>massive. The neatness of the ration allocations for different types of
        >>units suggested by R allowed the army to prepare effectively for the
        >>operations of armies of a set size. R notes that the variation in the size
        >>of Republican legions suggests that at this period planners had to base
        >>their calculations on numbers of men rather than numbers of units.
        However,
        >>it is also important to remember that the planning stage was not
        >>necessarily reflected in the actual distribution of rations to the men,
        >>which occurred at lower level.
        >>
        >>This is a very good book on an important subject.
        >
        >Note this forthcoming book as well:
        >
        >> A. King, 'Military and Civilian Dietary identity in Roman Britain: an
        >>update', in A. Goldsworthy & I. Haynes, The Roman army as a community in
        >>Peace and War. JRA Supplementary Series (forthcoming, 1999/2000), pp.
        >>139-149.
        >>
        >>I think the JRA [=Journal of Roman Archaeology] series are published by
        >>the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.
        >>S.W.
        >
        >Michael & Susan Weingarten
        >Fax 972-3-9222045
        >Tel-Aviv University
        >
        >>The best antique Roman recipes are at:
        http://www.dplanet.ch/users/julien.courtois/orgy/index.html
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