9780714113890 / 0714113891

Life and Letters on the Roman Frontier: Vindolanda and Its People


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Publisher:British Museum Pubns Ltd, 1994



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About the book:

"Clodius Super to his Cerialis, greetings. I ask that you send the things which I need for the use of my boys...which you well know I cannot properly get hold of here..." So writes a Roman soldier stationed the wild northern frontier of England around AD 100. Over three hundred such letters and documents have recently been discovered at the fort of Vindolanda written on wooden tablets which have amazingly survived nearly 2,000 years. Painstakingly deciphered by Alan Bowman and David Thomas they have contributed a wealth of evidence for daily life in the Roman Empire. From the military documents we learn of the strength and activities of the units stationed at Vindolanda. The accounts testify to the lifestyle of officers and ordinary soldiers, with payments for pepper and oil, towels and tallow, boots and beer. Then there are snapshots of domestic life in letters between the officer's wives, including a birthday invitation. Most fascinating of all is the evidence for a high degree of literacy in the Roman army, when even a common soldier receives a letter from home promising him a parcel of socks. Alan Bowman's lively summary of this new evidence is followed by the text of 34 key tablets, in Latin and in translation, bringing the reader very close to the actual people who inhabited Vindolanda in AD 100.

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