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News from a wargamer with a special interest in the military history of the Balkans. It mainly covers my current reading and wargaming projects. For more detail you can visit the web sites I edit - Balkan Military History and Glasgow & District Wargaming Society. Or follow me on Twitter @Balkan_Dave
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Saturday 14 October 2017

Roman Army Units in the Eastern Provinces

A new Osprey on a Balkan subject is an easy purchase and read, while I work through weightier tomes. This study by Rafaele D'Amato covers Roman units in the Balkans and further east, from 31BC to AD195.

The author starts with a brief chronology of the eastern provinces during this period, highlighting why they were so important to the Empire. He then identifies the distribution of units and their bases. This includes the legions and the more numerous Auxilia cohorts. This is a complex picture, with the Auxilia in particular being used as garrisons on the frontiers and lines of communication. He also lists locally recruited Numeri and Nationes, largely used for paramilitary policing duties.

The largest part of the book covers the arms, equipment and clothing in the different provinces. It is here were you can see the local influences, including units and equipment that you don't normally associate with the Roman army. This part of the book covers the latest archeological finds, which show these local influences. For example, in Macedonia there are strong Hellenic influences with muscled corselets, and in Dacia, the falx and draco standards.

Of course, the colour plates are what attract wargamers in particular to the Men At Arms series. The artist Raffaele Ruggeri doesn't let us down with superb artwork.

I am off to Serbia next week and plan to visit several Roman sites. On my last visit to Belgrade (Roman Singidunum), I remember an early morning visit to the Kalemegdan fortress overlooking the Danube, imagining what a Roman legionary might have been thinking as he gased through the mist into the Barbaricum over the river. I also hope to get to the remains of Felix Romuliana, Galerius's planned retirement palace. No less than 17 Roman emperors were born on what is now Serbian territory.

Here is one of them, in the imperial purple, with some fellow commanders in 28mm.

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