Whither the Ninth? Redux

A while back we posted about the ‘mysterious’ (non)disappearance of the Ninth, in the context of a documentary (which I never saw mention of again); now an academic (Miles Russell) has written on the subject for the BBC, inter alia:

Since then, generations of children and adults have been entranced by the story of a young Roman officer, Marcus Aquila, travelling north of Hadrian’s Wall in order to uncover the truth about his father, lost with the Ninth, and the whereabouts of the Legion’s battle standard, the bronze eagle.

The historians have dissented, theorising that the Ninth did not disappear in Britain at all, arguing both book and film are both wrong. Their theory has been far more mundane – the legion was, in fact, a victim of strategic transfer, swapping the cold expanse of northern England, for arid wastes in the Middle East. Here, sometime before AD 160, they were wiped in out in a war against the Persians.

But, contrary to this view, there is not one shred of evidence that the Ninth were ever taken out of Britain. It’s just a guess which, over time, has taken on a sheen of cast iron certainty. Three stamped tiles bearing the unit number of the Ninth found at Nijmegen, in the Netherlands, have been used to support the idea of transfer from Britain.

But these all seem to date to the 80s AD, when detachments of the Ninth were indeed on the Rhine fighting Germanic tribes. They do not prove that the Ninth left Britain for good.

In fact, the last certain piece of evidence relating to the existence of the Legion from anywhere in the Roman Empire comes from York where an inscription, dating to AD 108, credits the Ninth with rebuilding the fortress in stone. Some time between then and the mid-2nd Century, when a record of all Legions was compiled, the unit had ceased to exist.

The early years of the 2nd Century were deeply traumatic for Britannia. The Roman writer Fronto observed that, in the reign of the emperor Hadrian (AD 117 – 138), large numbers of Roman soldiers were killed by the British.

The number and full extent of these losses remain unknown, but they were evidently significant. The anonymously authored Augustan History, compiled in the 3rd Century, provides further detail, noting that when Hadrian became emperor, “the Britons could not be kept under Roman control”.

The British problem was of deep concern to Roman central government. Thanks to a tombstone recovered from Ferentinum in Italy, we know that emergency reinforcements of over 3,000 men were rushed to the island on “the British Expedition”, early in Hadrian’s reign. The emperor himself visited the island in AD 122, in order to “correct many faults”, bringing with him a new legion, the Sixth.

The fact that they took up residence in the legionary fortress of York suggests that the “great losses” of personnel, alluded to by Fronto, had occurred within the ranks of the Ninth.

It would seem that Sutcliff was right after all.

It was the Ninth, the most exposed and northerly of all legions in Britain, that had borne the brunt of the uprising, ending their days fighting insurgents in the turmoil of early 2nd Century Britain.

The loss of such an elite military unit had an unexpected twist which reverberates to the present day. When the emperor Hadrian visited Britain at the head of a major troop surge, he realised that there was only one way to ensure stability in the island – he needed to build a wall.

Hadrian’s Wall was designed to keep invaders out of Roman territory as well as ensuring that potential insurgents within the province had no hope of receiving support from their allies to the north. From this point, cultures on either side of the great divide developed at different rates and in very different ways.

The ultimate legacy of the Ninth was the creation of a permanent border, forever dividing Britain. The origins of what were to become the independent kingdoms of England and Scotland may be traced to the loss of this unluckiest of Roman legions.

I’m not a fan of ‘quibbling’ and when it is suggested there is no evidence that they were “taken out of Britain”, that’s using weasel words and asking people to prove a negative. I’m also not a big fan of passing over evidence which throws the ‘romantic theory’ out the window. What the above ignores is that we have a number of diplomas and other cursus evidence which suggests the Legio IX Hispana was alive long past its purported ‘destruction date’. One of the better articles collecting the evidence is Menachem Mor, Two Legions: The Same Fate? (The Disappearance of the Legions IX Hispana and XXII Deiotariana) Zeitschrift für Papyrologie und Epigraphik 62, (1986), pp. 267-278. The article talks about the evidence from Nijmegen, but since that seems to be what is contested above, we should consider some other evidence, which at the time, was new and argued against suggestions that the Legio disappeared in the Bar Kochba times. An important excerpt:No, this isn’t evidence that the Ninth was “taken out of Britain”; but it is evidence that it existed long past its puported romantic end date. Indeed, if one takes the evidence for the supposed destruction of the Ninth (all of which is inferred from non-specific textual evidence and an omission from a list a generation or so later) and places against all this other inscriptional evidence (possibly similarly inferential, but specific to the Ninth), I’m really not sure how an academic can seriously argue for the romantic view.

CONF: The Archaeology of Italy: State of the Field 2011

Seen on Rome-arch (rather short notice on this one; I must have missed the original posting):

The Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World will host the
symposium "The Archaeology of Italy: State of the Field 2011" on March 18th and
19th 2011. The symposium aimsto discuss the current state of the archaeology
of peninsular Italy in the twenty-first century, with an emphasis on the North
American academy. With an interest not only in tracking the trends and
methodologies in use in the archaeological investigation of this very important
piece of the Mediterranean, the symposium also seeks to examine the place of
peninsular Italian archaeology with respect to other geographical sub-fields of
Mediterranean archaeology. Perhaps most importantly, the symposium will
discuss not only the current state of the field, but also explore possible
future directions, methodologies, and techniques to be employed.The symposium
will several four sessions; one session dealing with the current state of
research, another future directions in research, and a third (in two parts)
that will serve as forum for graduate students to discuss their own research
and network with graduate colleagues and faculty. John Robb (Reader in European
Prehistory, University of Cambridge) will deliver his keynote talk, "Italian
Archaeology 2011: Where Is It and Where Is It Going?", on March 18th at 5.30pm.
The venue for the location is the home of the Joukowsky Institute, Rhode Island
Hall on Brown’s campus (60 George Street • Providence RI).

Friday, March 18
5:30 PM – Keynote session
* Welcome and introduction – Susan E. Alcock Director, Joukowsky Institute for
Archaeology and the Ancient World; Joukowsky Family Professor in Archaeology;
Professor of Classics; Professor of Anthropology

* “Italian Archaeology 2011: Where Is It and Where Is It Going?” – Dr. John
Robb Reader in European Prehistory, University of Cambridge

7:30 PM – Reception in Rhode Island Hall atrium
Saturday, March 19
* 9:00 am – coffee
* 9:30 am – Introduction to the sessions
* 9:45 – 10:45 Session I – the state of today’s field moderator: Steven Ellis,
University of Cincinnati

* "Breaking the boundaries of proto-history and Etruscology" – Corinna Riva
University College London

* "Digging the past, building the future: a research agenda for 1st millennium
BC Italy" – Jeffrey Becker Joukowsky Institute, Brown University

* "’The Land without History’: forever?" – Marco Maiuro Columbia University
* "Italy Today" – Richard Hodges University of Pennsylvania Museum of
Archaeology and Anthropology

* 10:45 – 11:00 am – coffee break
* 11:00 – 12:15 Session II – Graduate Student Research forum, part I moderator:
Jessica Nowlin, Joukowsky Institute, Brown University

* “New Methods and Theories for the Study of Domestic Space in the South
Italian Bronze Age” – Nicholas Wolff Boston University

* "Sacred Matter: Sacrifice and the Altars of Republican Rome and Latium" –
Claudia Moser Joukowsky Institute, Brown University

* "The tombs of Roman Campania: Reconstructing regional ties through funerary
culture" – Allison Emmerson University of Cincinnati

* 12:15 – 2:00 pm – Lunch
* 2:00 – 3:15 Session III – Graduate Student Research forum, part II moderator:
Clive Vella, Joukowsky Institute, Brown University

* "Digging Digitally: New excavation recording methodologies and why they
matter" – Jessica Nowlin Joukowsky Institute, Brown University

* "The archaeology of rural production in central Tyrrhenian Italy" – Abigail
Crawford Boston University

* "The Roads at the Latin City of Gabii" – Andrew Johnston Harvard University
* “Studying ‘Italian’ archaeology at UT Austin” – Jenny Muslin University of
Texas at Austin

* 3:15 – 3:30 pm – coffee break
* 3:30 – 4:30 Session IV – the state of tomorrow’s field moderator: Nick
DePace, Rhode Island School of Design

* "Italian Archaeology and Social History: Future Directions" – Annalisa
Marzano University of Reading / ISAW at NYU

* "Purity and Danger: On the Study of the Art of Ancient Italy" – Francesco de
Angelis Columbia University

* "Archaeological Remote Sensing to Visualization: a focus on Stabiae" –
Margaret Watters Joukowsky Institute, Brown University

* 4:30 – 5:30 pm – Final Discussion

If you would like more information on the symposium or if you have an interest
in attending, please contact Jeffrey Becker or Susan Alcock.

Joukowsky Institute for Archaeology & the Ancient World, Brown University • Box
1837 / 60 George Street Providence, RI 02912 • Telephone: (401) 863-3188; Fax:
(401) 863-9423

Jeffrey_Becker AT Brown.edu

JOB: Roman Archaeology or History @ Wilfrid Laurier (one year)

Seen in the Canadian Classical Bulletin:

Wilfrid Laurier University – The Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies invites applications for a one-year Limited Term Appointment at the rank of Assistant Professor, effective July 1, 2011, subject to budgetary approval. We are seeking a candidate with a research specialty in Roman Archaeology and/or History. We are especially interested in candidates who are connected with an archaeological field school in the Mediterranean World. The successful candidate will be expected to teach undergraduate courses in Latin, and Classical Archaeology and Civilization. Candidates will have completed a PhD, or be near completion. Applicants should submit a letter of application, curriculum vitae, a brief teaching dossier, and the names and contact information for three professional referees in hard copy. Recent PhD graduates, or PhD candidates, are requested to send graduate transcripts with their application. Please address all correspondence to Professor John Triggs, Chair, Department of Archaeology and Classical Studies, Wilfrid Laurier University, Waterloo, Ontario, N2L 3C5 by April 15, 2011.

Wilfrid Laurier University is committed to employment equity and values diversity. We welcome applications from qualified women and men, including persons of all genders and sexual orientations, persons with disabilities, Aboriginal persons, and persons of a visible minority. All qualified candidates are encouraged to apply; however, Canadians and permanent residents will be given priority. Members of the designated groups must self-identify to be considered for employment equity. Candidates may self-identify, in confidence, to the Dean of Arts, Dr. Michael Carroll (mcarroll AT wlu.ca). Further information on the equity policy can be found at https://www.wlu.ca/page.php?grp_id=2465&p=10545.

Caesar’s Brain Tumour?

Yong-Lin Ow just posted a very interesting item on Facebook by Francois Retief and Johan Cilliers from the South African Medical Journal (100.1, January 2010) postulating the underlying reason for Caesar’s epilepsy was an underlying benign brain tumour. The brief version would be something like: Caesar didn’t display any epileptic-like symptoms until the battle of Thapsus (rather late), deteriorating health (esp. headaches) toward the end of his life,  and the length of the “warning aura” prior to the second attack described by Plutarch lead to the conclusion:

In conclusion, we suggest that Julius Caesar’s epilepsy,
which first manifested after his 50th birthday, was secondary
to underlying intracranial pathology, possibly a benign brain
tumour. Terminal erratic behaviour might even have caused
him to be unduly negligent about his own safety and so have
aided his assassins on the Ides of March.

Definitely worth a read: