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"Roman scutum patterns?" Topic

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Paskal Supporting Member of TMP03 Jun 2018 3:57 a.m. PST

In the first century after Christ, every Roman legion had the same pattern on all the shields of the unit, which made it possible to distinguish it from another legion that sometimes bore the same number.

And in the first century BC, the legions already had numbers (such as those of Julius Caesar) but what pattern wore legionaries on their scutum?

Ivan DBA03 Jun 2018 7:32 a.m. PST

No one knows.

Winston Smith03 Jun 2018 3:19 p.m. PST

It is probable that each Legion had a distinct shield design.
It is possible that each century had a distinct color.
I have read both, but never with any certainty.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP03 Jun 2018 11:28 p.m. PST

If the legions are numbered they must be particularized, for the first century AD, Peter conolly gave colors of shields and tunics identical in a cohort and each cohort had its color, moreover each legion had its scutum pattern so a general could recognize such a cohort of such legion or such legion, but this system would be too good to be true.

wmyers04 Jun 2018 6:55 p.m. PST

There are images of the shields, themselves.

Only one scutum in good condition has ever been found, at Dura Europos, a Roman fort in Syria. You can see it above. It has pictures of an eagle, a lion, and winged gods. It was made in the 200s AD.

Above you can see another boss found in Britain, made of bronze and decorated.



There are LOTS more I'm surprised no one linked to any as of yet, in this thread.

As for the Republican Period, we only have a few writings and they were not written as accounts to describe the then current practices.

As there was a progression in the Roman military establishment and no overly great and distinct changes from one era/period to another (Marius' reforms are often touted as the most radical changes), it would be safe to imagine something that is not overly radical in difference between Julius and Trajan. (There was no unprecedented technological changes, for instance that would usher in a radical change.)

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP04 Jun 2018 11:11 p.m. PST

Maybe they did not have scutum designs in the 1st century BC or simply they already had the legion scutum designs of the 1st century AD ?

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP05 Jun 2018 11:42 p.m. PST

The Roman legion scutum pattern was to be identical to 1st century BC and 1st century AD, for example, for legions created by Julius Caesar that still existed under Trajan.

Is there at least one book where would be illustrated all the Roman legions scutum pattern of the 1 st century AD ?

williamb06 Jun 2018 11:20 a.m. PST

Although somewhat outdated "Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome" has all or almost all of the shield patterns from the first through the fifth centuries AD

wmyers06 Jun 2018 11:42 p.m. PST
Paskal Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2018 2:53 a.m. PST

Thank you all, no more recent documentation?

Mars Ultor Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2018 11:54 a.m. PST

The Romans haven't written any more yet. But we'll let you know when they do.

Mars Ultor Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2018 11:57 a.m. PST

But seriously, just about every conclusion about what pattern belonged to what legions is based on very scanty evidence. If your read through the Barker book pages 83-86 there are lots of "maybe"s and "perhaps" and "is associated with" and many conclusions based on a single finding.

Paskal, I suggest that if you're researching this period then you get used to uncertainty.

Paskal Supporting Member of TMP08 Jun 2018 11:47 p.m. PST

I'm already used to it, but I never give up.

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