The Dacian Wars of Domitian and Trajan.
: Mihail Zahariade, 'Historical introduction - A monumental effort'.
Rome’s victory over Carthage in the Second Punic War (218-201 BC) had transformed the Italian state into a serious power centre of the Mediterranean basin. In less than a century after the final blow to Carthage (146 BC), the states of the eastern Mediterranean were successively annexed: the western coast of Illyria, Greece and Macedonia (146 BC), the Hellenistic kingdom of Pergamon (133 BC), Bithynia (74 BC), the Pontic kingdom, Cilicia and finally Syria (64-63 BC). They were all turned into Roman provinces or were bequeathed the status of client kingdoms (Armenia, Commagene, Cappadocia Galatia, Bosporus, Osrhoene, and Judea). In 31 BC the last Hellenistic kingdom, Egypt, was suppressed and turned into a Roman province. Rome became the unchallenged and greatest power of the Mediterranean basin.
Michael J. Taylor, 'The Adamklissi Monument - Close combat on the Danube'.
The written sources for Trajan’s Dacian Wars are wretched. Xiphilinus’ epitome of Dio Cassius is the best of the lot, but his compact summation leaves much to be desired. Yet even as we despair over the lack of good written sources, we can rejoice in the fact that two stunning visual representations of the campaign have survived. The most famous is Trajan’s Column in Rome, designed to narrate the campaign to a civilian audience in the heart of the Eternal City. While the reliefs on Trajan’s column display intricate craftsmanship and fine detail, they are also highly stylized and classicized. Notably, the Roman legionaries on Trajan’s Column, identified by their lorica segmentata, engage mostly in civilian pursuits: they forage for grain and build fortifications with dressed stone. The grim work of killing Dacians is accomplished primarily by auxiliaries, identified by their scale armor, flat oval shields, and penchant for headhunting. One auxiliary on the column is so caught up in combat that he grasps a severed head with his teeth, freeing his hands to wield his sword and shield. Two other auxiliaries display similarly grisly trophies to the emperor and his aides, who look on this scene with cool indifference.
Marius Barbu, 'Reconstructing the Dacian infantryman - Out of the Column'.
It is plainly obvious that both Trajan’s Column and the sculpted panels on the Tropaeum Traiani in Adamklissi provide essential information for the reconstruction of both perishable and more permanent parts of the dress and equipment of a Dacian warrior. Fortunately, additional data can be gleaned from the relatively plentiful finds in Dacian fortresses and settlements. Unfortunately in many cases, neither images nor archaeological reports are easily accessible outside of Romania.
Raffaele D’Amato, 'Adaptations in Roman armour during the Trajanic era - The Miles Legionis of the last age of conquest'. Illustrated by Johnny Schumate.
The great number of military achievements during Trajan’s reign and the concomitant necessity to face new, dangerous enemies (and their lethal weapons) led to a general reinforcement of the legionary’s armour, as confirmed by the iconography and archaeology from the period. This process however, simply reached its completion in the reign of this emperor, having most likely begun in an earlier period.
Ross Cowan, 'Legionaries and auxiliaries in the Flavian era - Disciplined soldiers and wild warriors'.
Looking at Trajan’s Column, dominated as it is with scenes of auxiliary soldiers in combat - in battles and sieges - it is easy to agree with Professor J.E. Lendon that “legionaries parade, march, and work - and non-legionaries fight” (Lendon 2005, 242). Indeed, literary evidence would appear to confirm that even before Trajan became emperor, legionaries were relegated to a supporting role in pitched battles. The classic example is Mons Graupius (AD 83, see Ancient Warfare I.1), where the great victory over the Caledones belonged exclusively to the auxiliary cohorts and alae.
Christian Koepfer, 'Water containers on campaign - Drink!Drink!!Drink!!!'.
About 65 % of the human body is water. It is the essential nutrient and it is required for all cell functions in the body. The Hypothalamus regulates the human body temperature and keeps it at a constant level between 36° and 38° Celsius. Every move a human being makes produces heat through muscle contractions. The body loses 75% of expended energy as heat since it only has an efficiency of about 25%. To prevent overheating, the Hypothalamus increases the blood flow, which stimulates about 2.5 million sweat glands in the body, which pour a mix of electrolytes and water over the skin: sweat. The sweat evaporates, i.e. it converts from water to gas and thus transfers the heat to the atmosphere. This way, e.g. during extreme hard work or sports, the body may lose up to two liters of water per hour. If this water is not replaced, the body dehydrates which quickly results in muscle cramps, an increased heartbeat, fatigue, and a decreasing sweat rate, which may then lead to an overheating of the body resulting in a potentially fatal heat stroke.
Paul McDonnell-Staff, 'Trajan’s Dacian campaigns - Worth a double triumph'. Illustrated by Carlos García and Darren Tan.
“It is an excellent idea of yours to write about the Dacian war. There is no subject which offers such scope and such a wealth of original material, no subject so poetic and almost legendary although its facts are true. You will describe new rivers set flowing over the land, new bridges built across rivers, and camps clinging to sheer precipices; you will tell of a king driven from his capital and finally to death, but courageous to the end; you will record a double triumph one the first over a nation hitherto unconquered, the other a final victory”, Pliny the Younger Letters 8.4.
Andrei Pogăciaş, 'The Dacian army - Noblemen, warriors and peasants'. Illustrated by José Germán
As the Romans approached the Danube, they came face to face with a warrior people which they had known for a long time – the Dacians. This time it was different. The conflict between the two states became unavoidable and ended after two bloody wars, when Rome, and Emperor Trajan, finally managed to vanquish the Dacian armies, conquered a large part of the territory of the former ‘barbarian’ Kingdom, and transformed it into a Roman province.
The Find: Seán Hußmann, 'Two reliefs from Egypt - Of gods and soldiers'.
During his time in Egypt, the Prussian egyptologist and archaeologist Friedrich Wilhelm von Bissing managed to accumulate an extensive collection of antiques. This collection ultimately became the basis for many modern-day museum collections.
Barry Webb, 'The walls of Babylon - Vain defenses'. Illustrated by Rocío Espín.
In discussing the fall of Babylon, this essay will first look at the overall geopolitical situation in the mid-sixth century BC, then turn to the composition of the Babylonian army, and conclude with a nearly blow-by-blow recounting of Babylon’s last days.
Duncan B. Campbell, 'How was the Spartan army organized? - Manoeuvres at Mantineia'. Illustrated by Angel Garcia Pinto.
The historian Thucydides lamented the fact that he was unable to discover the number of Spartans who had fought at Mantineia in 418 BC, “owing to the secrecy of their government.” In fact, this is the constant refrain of modern scholars who try to reconstruct Spartan military affairs. Thucydides at least attempted to give a rough estimate of Spartan numbers on that September day, along with a description of how their army was organized. However, his entire account is often criticized as being faulty. So, if even this careful historian could be bamboozled by Spartan secrecy, what chance have modern scholars of discovering how the Spartan army was organized?