Mawr Classical Review 2002.01.15
Eckhard Deschler-Erb, Ad Arma! R?misches Milit?r des 1.
Jahrhunderts n.Chr. in Augusta Raurica. Forschungen in Augst, Band
28. Augst: R?mermuseum Augst, 1999. Pp. 189;
115 ills.; 46 pls. ISBN 3-7151-0028-1.
Reviewed by James P. Holoka, Foreign Language Department,
Eastern Michigan University (email@example.com
Word count: 587 words
Taken as a whole, the archaeological finds from the site of
near Basel, are among the most meticulously excavated, inventoried,
preserved, displayed, and (now) published remains of the ancient
Roman world. Eckhard Deschler-Erb [ED-E] conceived the idea for the
present volume during his work at the Castrum Rauracense located in
the lower town area (Kaiseraugst) of Augusta Raurica.2
In Ad Arma!, ED-E expands his review of military finds to the
entire municipal area and a total of 872 objects.
The book's introduction (11-13) sketches the history of the
research and states its aims and methodology. The next part,
"Analysis of Finds" (14-73), is divided into sections and
subsections as follows:
Offensive weapons: artillery, heavy javelins
(pila), spears (iacula/hastae), arrows,
swords, and daggers.
Defensive equipment: helmets, shields,
greaves, and chain- and scale-mail.
Belt and apron
Cavalry tack: pendants, bridle parts, saddle parts, and
Additional equipment: clasps, "buttons," and a
fragment of an unidentifiable metal fitting. Signaling instruments:
(the mouthpieces of) various horns (tuba, lituus, cornu,
The descriptions in each category are enhanced by many
photographs and detailed line drawings, charts showing distribution
of finds by dates, and 327 footnotes mostly directing the reader to
discussions of the same or similar items in the archaeological
The book's next two sections (74-104) evaluate the finds in the
context of the history of Augusta Raurica. In particular, ED-E draws
on his carefully compiled time-distribution patterns to disclose
periods of peak military presence (reigns of Tiberius, Nero, and to
a lesser extent the Flavians). He also plots find concentrations
spatially, with many maps and charts, insula by insula in the lower
town and the central upper town (Augst) and certain of its suburbs.
ED-E also makes interesting and judicious inferences about social
and economic conditions of life as they evolved over time in this
No less than nine concordances (111-123) enable users to (a)
consult or cross-refer to other works3
treating a specific item, (b) identify the location of finds held in
outside the R?mermuseum Augst, (c) compare catalogue numbers in the
present volume with their museum inventory numbers, (d) associate
catalogue numbers with find-complex (assemblage) numbers and
inventory years, (e) ascertain dates of objects by five termini ante
quos (A.D. 30, 50, 70/75, 110, 150), and (f) position any item by
date within an insula or region.
A bibliography and list of illustration credits (124-127) is
followed by a catalogue of all the finds (128-189). For each item,
the following are provided: inventory number; plate and/or
illustration number in Ad Arma!; find-complex number; precise
find spot by region and insula; (broadly and sometimes narrowly
fixed) dates of any ceramics and coins in the same find-complex;
dimensions and weight as well as type (spear point, buckle, etc.)
and material; a short description; present repository; citation of
any previous publication.
The book concludes with forty-five pages of plates showing
excellent line drawings (by Stefan Bieri) of every object in either
1:2 or 2:3 scale. A forty-sixth plate is a topographical plan of the
whole site with region and insula numbers indicated.
This is a worthy and handsome installment in the Forschungen in
Augst series; its high production values extend to an attractive
four-color cover illustrating a Roman legionary soldier in full
battle gear. By his painstaking survey of archaeological finds, ED-E
has fleshed out the military and in part even civil life in an
important Roman outpost with extraordinary clarity and exactitude.
His book will satisfy the needs of students and specialists alike.
1. See The Princeton
Encyclopedia of Classical Sites, s.v. Augusta Rauricorum (http://www.perseus.tufts.edu/cgi-bin/ptext?doc=Perseus%3Atext%3A1999.04.0006%3Aid%3Daugusta-rauricorum),
and Alex R. Furger and Paula Zsidi (edd.), Out of Rome, Augusta
Raurica / Aquincum: Das Leben in zwei r?mischen Provinzst?dten
(Basel 1997), with review at http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/1998/98.6.13.html.
2. See Eckhard Deschler-Erb, et alii,
Das fr?hkaiserzeitliche Milit?rlager in der Kaiseraugster
Unterstadt, Forschungen in Augst, Band 12 (Augst 1991).
3. E. Deschler-Erb (note 2 above); A.
Kaufmann-Heinimann, Augst: Die r?mischen Bronzen der Schweiz
1 (Mainz 1977); id., Neufunde und Nachtr?ge: Die r?mischen
Bronzen der Schweiz 5 (Mainz 1994); S. F?nfschilling, "R?mische
Altfunde von Augst-Kastelen," Interne Augster Arbeitspap. 2
[unpublished] (Augst 1993); S. Deschler-Erb, Beinartefakte aus
Augusta Raurica: Rohmaterial, Technologie, Typologie und
Chronologie. Forschungen in Augst, Band 27 (Augst 1998).
4. Historisches Museum Basel;
Schweizerisches Landesmuseum Z?rich; Sammlung Frey, Kaiseraugst.