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Finds of Roman Military Equipment from the Augusteum in Narona

Sanja Ivčević ; Arheološki muzej u Splitu

Puni tekst: hrvatski pdf 440 Kb

str. 297-312

preuzimanja: 308


Puni tekst: engleski pdf 440 Kb

str. 297-312

preuzimanja: 74



Narona (Vid, near Metković) was in Antiquity one of the most important centres on the eastern coast of the Adriatic. It was not only its convenient position for commercial exchanges but also its fertile soil for the development of agriculture that contributed to the growth of the city in the area. After the middle of the 1st century BC, Narona acquired the status of colony, and at the end of that century, a shrine to Emperor Augustus was built in the city. Although it had primarily
an agrarian and mercantile character, which determined the natures of its inhabitants, the city with its surroundings was an important military base in the conquest of Illyricum and a major stronghold of the Romans for military campaigns against that people in the period from a bit before the middle of the 2nd century BC to the
beginning of the second half of the 1st century BC. In the surroundings of Narona the presence of soldiers is confirmed by numerous epigraphs, which are supported by archaeological finds, but apart from the five finds in the Augusteum, there are just a few in the area of the town.
The finds in the Augusteum comprise three items of horse equipment, one fragment of armour and a belt mount, probably belonging to a belt set. A tripartite leaf-shaped pendant for a harness (T 1.1) is dated to the time from the Claudian to the Flavian, and in the typology of M. C. Bishop is defined as type 1l. They are found in various sites in the Empire, this same variant also including specimens the central leg of which ends in the shape of a palmette, which are somewhat more
numerous than those of the kind from Narona. They can be found in Dalmatia too, for example, in Salona and Tilurium. Among the pendants from Dalmatian sites that belong to this type, if not to the variant, mentioned here by analogy, we find luxury pendants, not only at military sites, such as Burnum (variant 1p) and Tilurium (variant 1s) but in city centres such as in Salona (variant 1v). A second harness pendant from the Augusteum (T. 1. 2) is perhaps of the
tear-shaped type (Bishop 5), variant 5a, which is characterised by kidney shaped perforations at the top, a spherical ending and a shape close to that of a heart.
Tear-shaped pendants were in use long, first appeared at the latest in the age of Claudius, lasting the whole of the 2nd century. In various versions they are often found at Roman sites, but examples of variant 5a are not very numerous. There are similar pendants from Sisak and Augusta the edges of which are straight, but the closest analogy is a specimen from Wiesbaden. Also belonging to the harness
is a phalera (T. 1. 3) with a square loop on the rear, which belongs to the type with one loop through which the bridle was drawn (Bishop 1c), and since it has no central opening for a rivet was clearly meant only for a horizontal strap of the harness. The phalera from the Augusteum fits into the chronological framework of the rest of the material found, with the proviso that the dating of the phalerae to an extent similar to ours and some functional decorative items of similar form might suggest a period of the second half of the 1st century. Two bronze plates of scale armour (T. 1. 4) each with four pairs of holes, are dated, because of the existence of perforations on the bottom of the plates (which which they were additionally fastened to the lower row of scales), to the time of the 2nd century. In Croatia, most
numerous are fragments from Sisak, among which there are several that are similar to ours, while those from Dalj are more elongated and have a sharper tip. Finds from Burnum castrum, although they are elongated, do not have perforations at the bottom. As for finds in other areas of the Empire (including those from Corbridge, Avenches, Mušov, Bonn, Eining-Unterfeldt) those most similar, in terms of shape and distribution of the perforations, are items from Dura-Europos.
The belt mount belongs to the type with a trumpet-shaped decoration (T. 1.5). Items decorated with this kind of motif constitute a unique chronological grouping of material dating to the second half of the 2nd and the beginning of the 3rd century, possibly continuing through the first half of the 3rd, their dating being confirmed by finds with coins in closed grave units. Such mountings are a frequent find in the area of the Rhenish and the Danubian limes, but they can be found in numerous sites through the Empire. A decoration with trumpet shaped
motifs is not limited to belt sets, but is used in the decoration and shaping of objects for other purpose, horse equipment and fibulae, for example. The objects discussed in the article are also found in the temenos of the Augusteum in Narona, and it can be assumed that they came there as votive gifts.
The practice of dedicating weapons and horse trappings is known since prehistory, and is well documented in the Late Iron Age. The making of votive offerings, as proved on altars, was common in the Roman Empire, and research into shrines from Britain, Gaul and the Germanic area shows that parts of military equipment, especially during the 1st century, were frequently consecrated and deposited as
votive gifts. The small number of metal finds in the temple, as compared with other types of finds, can be explained in several ways. Researches from shrines at several sites have shown that usually whole objects or sets were consecrated, and we can assume that our finds are only parts of horse trappings or belt sets or armour that were originally dedicated. During the course of time, or during the
demolition and filling of the shrine, the metal objects might have been destroyed or collected for reuse of the metal, which was a common practice in the Roman period. It has to be borne in mind that this was a city shrine that was not primarily meant for soldiers, who might have undertaken their vows in shrines that probably existed in the camps in which they were stationed, which leads to the supposition
that originally military equipment was not represented to the same extent as some other categories of objects.

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