The Early Roman Empire in the West: New Excavations at the Roman Camps Near Numantia (Renieblas, Spain, 2nd–1st c. BCE)
The Roman camps near Numantia (Renieblas, Spain), are one of the earliest and best-preserved in the Mediterranean. The camps were involved in the first phase of Roman expansion, the conquest of the province of Hispania (modern Spain and Portugal) and the siege of the native settlement at Numantia, which resulted in Rome’s annexation of much of the Iberian Peninsula in 133 BCE. At the beginning of the 20th c., German ancient historian Adolf Schulten, excavated the remains of at least five overlapping Roman camps, loosely dated to the 2nd and 1st c. BCE. The plan of Camp III (49 hectares), drawn more than 100 years ago by topographers from the German army under Schulten’s supervision, became key for our current understanding of the basic structure of the Roman Republican army. It is usually assumed that the archaeological remains clearly correspond to the description of the arrangement of a manipular army by Polybius (book 6, 2nd c. BCE) and how different ranks of soldiers were housed inside a typical Roman camp.
Yet despite the spectacular results of Schulten’s excavations at the site between 1908 and 1927 many basic and important questions about Renieblas (including the chronology of each of the camps) remain unanswered. His interpretation of the camps is problematic and the analysis of the archaeological finds (stored in the RGZM, Mainz, Germany) is contested, due to the lack of archaeological context. Our team set up in 2015 a new excavation project at Renieblas with the goal of providing archaeological information about this important site. In this paper I will discuss the most important results of the first three fieldwork seasons (2015–2017), in which we have documented a series of artifacts in archaeological context (ceramic, fragments of arms and armor, coins), studied faunal remains and dated organic samples (charcoal and bones) using C-14. In 2018 and 2019 we combined different techniques (LiDAR, photogrammetry, terrestrial scanners, archaeological surveys, historical maps and aerial pictures), to create a new plan of Camp III in order to shed new light on the vexed problem of the structure and internal layout of the Roman camps in the 2nd c. BCE.
December 12 at 6:00 pm
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