Abstracts from speakers who have completed booking forms:




Phil   de Souza                 


A New Approach to Ancient Naval Warfare




Ben   Angell          


Training the Legions of the Late Republic and Early Empire: A Reassessment


This paper takes a fresh look at the issue of training. Many ancient sources attribute the Roman army’s success to training (e.g. Cic. Tusc. 2.37, Joseph. BJ. 3.72-5, Veg. Mil. 1.1), and modern scholars take its importance for granted. But one notes that little study has been devoted to the content of training (the complaint of Bohec 1994 still stands); and I argue that serious misconceptions plague our understanding.




This paper will:


i. Argue that the evidence of Vegetius, on which many modern discussions of training place great weight (e.g. Watson 1969), is not to be trusted.


ii. Examine the organisation of training in the late Republic, demonstrating that practices were highly irregular, dependent on the opinions of individual commanders, and were rarely centred on technical weapon practice.


iii. Argue that despite Augustus’ regularisation of the army, no uniform training programme was enforced, and there were great continuities with Republican practices. However, developments such as the emergence of campidoctores suggest some degree of routinisation.


iv. Discuss the ways in which training was shaped by elite preoccupations, including the potential glimpse into differing views of how training should be conducted offered by Fronto’s criticism of Hadrian.




It is my contention that the faulty evidence of Vegetius, as well as anachronistic assumptions, have misled scholars into considering training a regularised phenomenon centred on technical skills. The word exercitatio, invariably rendered as ‘training’, typically consisted more of the inculcation of a martial state of mind and readiness for war, effected just as much through labour and toil as strictly ‘military’ activities. Thus ancient notions – and hence practices of training – differed considerably from modern ones.








Joanne Ball                       


The treatment of captured combatants in the Roman world




At the end of battle in the Roman world, many combatants would lie wounded on or near the battlefield, have surrendered, or been forcibly captured by the victorious army. Many would find themselves enslaved or executed, a far smaller number would be set free; their fate ultimately lay, in most cases, with the field commander. While there was no formal recognition of “prisoner-of-war” status in the Roman world, it does not automatically follow that as a result all violence towards them was permitted. In reality, the mistreatment of captured combatants was varied, and acts of extreme violence could be condemned as often as they were praised or accepted; nevertheless, they continued to occur.




This paper addresses the fate of captured combatants in the Roman world, both Roman and non-Roman, focusing in particular on the immediate aftermath of battle. Drawing on historical evidence, archaeological battlefield remains, and sculptural depictions of warfare, this paper will present the preliminary results of this research into the phenomenon of battlefield violence in the post-battle period in the Roman world. As well as detailing the frequency of different actions towards captured combatants, the paper considers the wider political, military, ritual, and social influences which caused, or prevented, acts of mass violence and brutality. The paper will also consider how ethnic tensions, and the relationship between Roman and native in individual provinces, may have impacted the treatment of captured combatants.




Yasmina Benferhat               


Hannibal’s tactical use of water


Winning a battle depends on many things, as we all know: the skills of the general, the experience, the logistics, luck sometimes… A skilful general might take in account the meteorology, the coming of wind for example. He will have to take in account the nature of the battle field, if there are hills, swamps, a river for example, and that plays a part in his choice of the place where to fight, if he can chose of course.


This paper aims at studying some battles between Hannibal and the Romans during the Second Punic War, in order to show how the Carthaginian general took in account the presence of water and even used it in his plans to win. We would like to focus on three examples : first the battle in South of France against Scipio, with the river Rhône in the middle, then the battle of the Trebia in 218 BC when a river played an important part against the Romans, and of course the famous disaster of Trasimene in 217 BC. 




Fabrizio Biglino


The speech of Spurius Ligustinus: rethinking second century Roman military service








The traditional structure and image of the Roman Republican army is the one provided to us by the Greek historian Polybius. His description of the Roman military system in book VI of his Histories is considered the reference source when analysing the Roman army during most of the Republican period until the changes introduced by the reforms attributed to Gaius Marius in the late second century BC. However, it is our suggestion that Polybius’ portrayal of the Roman army was obsolete by the time he actually wrote book VI and it is possible to argue that the structure he described was already outdated by the time of the First Punic War.




While it seems that we do not possess any information on the crucial period of the second century BC, when looking at alternative sources it is actually possible to gather clues that offer us a different picture of the mid-Republican army. This paper will investigate the numerous changes that transformed the Roman military before the Marian reforms, as well as the society’s view of the military service. Interesting information can be found in Velleius and Appian, but the crux of this investigation is the well-known speech of Spurius Ligustinus (Livy, XLII. 34), an important source of information on the Roman army by the mid-second century BC and its mechanisms, from the recruitment system to military service itself.




Without being blinded by Livy’s attempts to over glorify him as the ideal Roman citizen, Ligustinus’ passage suggests fascinating possibilities regarding the relationship between citizens and military service in terms of the attractiveness of the army, a topic of great importance for our understanding of the Roman military during the expansion of the Republic and the controversies connected to it.






Alessandro Brambilla           


πίλεκτοι, what are they good for?




Ancient sources attest the existence of several standing élite military units in the Greek armies during the V and IV centuries BC. Usually styled λογάδες or ἐπίλεκτοι, or identified with a proper name, these permanent troops were often maintained at public expenses and given the opportunity to train for battle, and represent a development of the widespread practice of forming detachments composed by hoplites selected from the ranks of the army for a very specific and short-term purpose. The emergence and spread of this kind of élite corps is normally explained with the need for at least some highly trained and solid troops who could perform more efficiently on the battlefield than the rest of the amateur army, thus improving its tactical sophistication. But how effective were these ἐπίλεκτοι? How were they deployed and what kind of tasks were assigned to them? Finally, was there any real advantage in creating a fairly expensive and politically hazardous permanent élite corps rather than forming a temporary unit by picking a certain number of strong, capable and trustworthy men on the spot from the ranks? Through the analysis of few significant examples attested by the sources, this paper aims to answer these questions in order to provide a better understanding of developments in Greek military thought and tactics during the Classical period.




Kathy Gaca                      


The Martial License for Massacre and Torture in Ancient Mediterranean Warfare




An ancient Mediterranean rule of martial power asserts an entitlement for superiors to torture and massacre targeted fighting-age men through techniques such as selective beheading and throwing javelins at prisoners in enclosed confines.  Early attestations of this rule indicate that it began as a way to quell insubordinate and ineffective behavior within the ranks.  Bronze Age Hittite kings had specialty forces on call to massacre rebellious men and have their dependents repossessed and delivered to his majesty.  This punishment system, which includes maltreating the forces’ dependents, is also discernible in soldiers’ oaths of the Hittites and in the Iliad.  Centuries later, the Romans aptly named this rule of power necis potestas.  This means not simply ‘the power to put to death,’ but to kill with torturous pain.  In Roman society, this rule is familiar as patria potestas, giving patres carte blanche to run their households as subordinate brigades.  Yet Roman decimation shows that this rule also applied to the men.  Roman commanders could have every tenth man executed among contingents judged insubordinate or ineffective, so that the overawed remainder would hasten to obey.  Thus, when martial commanders unleashed torturous lethal force on external enemies, they were extending necis potestas to them as though they too were defiant insiders deserving an excruciating comeuppance.  


Men and their dependents caught in this snare of martial power were treated as slaves and could be named douloi.  Though distinct from chattel slavery, this slave institution was still what Patterson terms “social death”— turning human beings into violable non-persons to be killed with impunity as expendable, here for going against martial oaths and covenants.  This is one basic reason why it has historically been unthinkable for martial forces to go on strike.  To strike implies free laborers negotiating with management, whereas slaves can only rebel.




Bart Danon                 


Roman marching capabilities in the first century BCE estimated using Monte Carlo calculations


Over a period of numerous centuries Roman armies have been marching in wars across large parts around the Mediterranean basin and beyond. When in need for an estimate of the marching speed of these armies, many scholars (e.g. Gichon 1981, Benario 1986, Whipp et al. 1998, Scheidel 2013 or http://www.orbis.stanford.edu) fall back on the values presented by Vegetius (Mil. 1.9): either 20 or 24 Roman miles in five summer hours. However, Vegetius wrote in the fourth century CE and referred to training legionary recruits. It seems therefore that these values in many cases are inapplicable and/or anachronistic. In this presentation I intend to assess the marching capabilities of Roman armies in the first century BCE and compare them with Vegetius’ values. The marching speeds will be reconstructed using the quantitative descriptions as supplied in Caesar’s Commentarii de Bello Gallico, Sallustius’ Iugurtha and Cicero’s letters regarding his Cilician campaign. Because the numerical interpretation of these type of literary descriptions is notoriously difficult due to e.g. rounding, qualification (Rubincam 1979) or the use of formulaic numbers (Scheidel 1996), I propose to use a state-of-the-art probabilistic method, viz. Monte Carlo calculations. When applying this method, instead of using fixed values for the variables in the calculations, their values are based on recurrent random sampling from continuous Probability Density Functions (PDFs). Assuming differently shaped PDFs for different variables, the above-mentioned interpretational difficulties can be embedded into the calculations. The results indicate that marching speeds in the first century BCE in real war contexts were much lower than Vegetius indicated (Stolle 1912). Surprisingly, the longer marches more often approach his values as compared to the shorter marches.








Richard Evans             


Greek Non-Combatants during Inter-State Conflict.


The term non-combatant is used frequently within modern scholarship concerning ancient Greek warfare, but rarely, if ever, do scholars define it. Rather, non-combatant is used as an evident fact, with no exploration as to its meaning and where it belongs, if at all, in describing conflict and law within the ancient Greek world. This is worrying, primarily because the concept of non-combatant status, for a modern audience, is wrapped up in expectations that are reflections of a post-WW2 world, not of the ancient Greeks. Consequently, to appreciate how conflict was structured between poleis without the imposition of modern expectations, I argue that it is vital for historians not only to investigate carefully what we mean by non-combatant, but also attempt to understand who or what the ancient Greeks themselves might have regarded as inviolable during periods of conflict. Did the Greeks possess a concept of inviolable status during inter-state conflict? If so, can we call them non-combatants? Furthermore, what could Greek non-combatants mean for wider studies in ancient warfare? This paper offers new ideas on where the ancient non-combatant lay within the Greek city-state structure.






Cristina Garcia            


The evolution of the Macedonian army


The program of military reforms introduced by Philip II transformed the Kingdom of Macedonia into a military power. This program included the creation of a new phalanx, supported by the cavalry and light infantry and equipped with long spears (sarissai) and lighter panoply. Due to the success of these innovations, the phalanx continued to be the main infantry unit until its defeat at Pidna (168 BC) against the Roman legions.


Even though some problems are faced when studying the organization of the Macedonian army before the reign of Philip, his reforms are well-known. There are not only classical sources that inform us directly of the measures taken by the king, but both the historians of Alexander the Great (Arrian, Curtius, Diodorus, Justin and Plutarch) and the iconographic representations (Mosaic of Alexander, Macedonian tombs, etc.) provide us with valuable data about the organization and equipment of the soldiers in the last years of the Temenid dynasty (it seems reasonable to believe that most of the characteristics attributed to Alexander’s army had originated already during his father’s reign). However, after the conqueror’s death, the situation is once again confusing: it is even difficult to distinguish which forces in the Diadochi’s armies were Macedonian and which were native.


Starting from the few evidences about the state of the army before Philip II, we will analyze three battles (Chaeronea, Ipsus and Pidna) in order to determine the evolution of the Macedonian armed forces. Moreover, the Macedonian phalanx had to fight against three different enemies (the hoplitic phalanx, the Macedonian phalanx and the Roman legion, respectively), allowing us to evaluate its performance against them and to track the causes behind its eventual defeat (probably its inability to respond to a break in its lines or to protect an exposed flank).






Julian Gieseke              


The dual military and political role of mercenaries under the Deinomenids in ancient Sicily




In my PHD project I concern myself with the tyrannies of the Deinomenids and the Dionysii in Sicily and attempt to explain their rules by using both recent interdisciplinary concepts from the ongoing discussions on territory and territoriality as well as new inputs from network theory.


During my presentation at the conference I’d like to discuss the role of mercenaries under the earlier dynasty, the Deinomenids, with a special emphasis on the founder Gelo. After securing Syracuse as his capital, he had conquered vast parts of Eastern Sicily and eventually won panhellenic fame with his victory at the battle of Himera. Large numbers of Greek mercenaries, who had been recruited from both Magna Graecia and the Peloponnese, played a crucial role during these campaigns. In peace time they served as garrisons and bodyguards. Their role, however, was also political, as Gelo had settled 10 000 of them in his capital, where they received Syracusan citizenship. His brother and successor Hiero later most likely also drew on his mercenaries when he founded the military colony Aitna in the place of the polis Katane.


The aim of my contribution will be to underline the significance of this dual role of mercenaries for the Deinomenid tyrants. Their political role resulted primarily from the military successes, but it went beyond it by enabling Gelo and Hiero to plant loyal cores of supporters into the capital Syracuse as well as other large cities like Katane/Aitna. However, even after the mercenaries had been settled, they still fulfilled a military role as garrisons. Is it possible to identify this usage of paid warriors as a distinctive feature of the Syracusan tyrannies in general? And furthermore, which role did they play in shaping the character of Gelon’s arche?






George Harrold                    


Terrain in Book IV of Thucydides’ Peloponnesian War


My proposed paper is a literary study of terrain and its military effects in Thucydidean warfare, particularly focusing on Book IV of The Peloponnesian War. I am currently researching this subject for my MRes thesis. My paper will present this research and, like my thesis, will be broadly split into two parts: (1) I shall argue that Thucydides’ references to terrain provide a historiographical perspective of Thucydides as military historian; and (2) I shall examine and highlight the tactical and individual effects of terrain in Thucydidean warfare.


(1) My research of Thucydides’ references to terrain – specifically those in a military context – has shown that these references are disproportionally frequent in Book IV. In total, I have counted thirty-two instances of Thucydides referring to terrain in a military context; of these thirty-two instances, fifteen are in Book IV, which is clearly a disproportionately high number. I am arguing that this disproportionate frequency is due to Thucydides’ first-hand experience and knowledge of the campaigns during these years. Furthermore, I am suggesting that – based on this case-study of Thucydides – terrain is a military detail which could provide valuable historiographical insights when studying other ancient historians.


(2) Because Thucydides often had both military experience for, and first-hand knowledge of, the battles which he narrates in Book IV – as I have indicated above –  his narratives for these battles provide a valuable source for the study of terrain in Greek warfare of the late-5th Century B.C. His account of the Battle of Sphacteria, which contains insights into the effects of terrain on both a tactical and an individual level, is an excellent example of this. Demosthenes’ concerns prior to the battle (IV 29) are a rare indicator of the effects of woodland terrain in Classical Greek warfare. Additionally, the prominent role of the rough ground in the development and eventual culmination of the battle (IV 33-34) offers an insight into the contrasting effects of a different type of terrain.






Ben Lay              


Trireme-Enabled Power Projection: British Maritime Doctrine of the 21st Century and Athenian Naval Strategy in the Peloponnesian War


While avoiding the cliché that “history repeats itself” and acknowledging the frequent work conducted on military staff courses examining historical precedents in a modern light, there is still merit in setting the Athenian Naval strategy in the Peloponnesian War alongside the concept of Maritime Power laid out in British Maritime Doctrine (BMD, Joint Doctrine Publication 0-10, 2011).  Doing so, we can see the Athenian military of the Fifth Century BC exploits the Attributes of Maritime Power as laid out in BMD (most notably Access, Lift Capacity, and Sustained Reach) and practises aspects of both sides of the Royal Navy’s “Warfighting Role”, namely Maritime Power at Sea and Maritime Power from the Sea, delivering the net product of Maritime Power Projection.  Furthermore there are elements of the other roles, Maritime Security and International Engagement, observable in Athenian strategy, although necessarily limited.


            Overall I believe that we can see in the employment of the Athenian Fleet of the Fifth Century a great deal that is familiar from a study of the modern, British conception of how maritime forces can be used.  While some notable gaps in Athenian practice, when measured against the checklist of BMD, could be ascribed to inherent, conceptual differences or failings of implementation (one thinks most obviously of the inability to use Maritime Power Projection to “limit” the enemy and thus defend Attica), the chief differences (less Versatility, increased reliance on amphibious operations for projection ashore, etc) are a product of the equipment available.  We can nevertheless see that the trireme-centred fleet of two and a half millennia ago provided the essential reach and capability that are still the mainstay of a modern Naval force, as seen in the Royal Navy as it enters the age of large-deck aircraft carriers and fifth generation aircraft.




Geoff          Lee     tba




Ian Russell Lowell       


Laying a Tice: Hittite Strategy in the War with Amurru & Egypt 1275–1274 B.C.


The detail highlighted most about the Battle of Qadesh 1274 B.C. is the mention of three-man Hittite chariots by Ramesses II.  This paper asks why did the Hittites use such an apparently inferior weapon and answers it with reference to earlier battles against the northern Gašgan tribes led by the commander of the Hittite army at Qadesh (later reigning as Ḫattušili III), and the strategic objectives of the Hittite king Muwatalli II.  Drawing on practical research the three-man chariot will be shown to be a deliberate misrepresentation in Ramesses’ accounts, and the Hittite records will be used to present a clearer understanding of the success of the Hittite strategy with regard to regaining the territory of Amurru and preventing Ramesses taking the city of Qadesh.  Laying a Tice is an opening gambit in the game of Croquet.






Carlo Lualdi                


Classic warfare and modern media: “The Battle of the Bastards”, a case study


Classical warfare is a subject that offers an interesting source of inspiration for the modern entertainment system. If we focus on the representations of a single specific battle, which is generally known by the great public , we can quote the battle of Thermopylae, described in the graphic novel of Frank Miller “300” and its homonymous film adaptation. Recently an episode of the last season of HBO’s fantasy series “Game of Thrones” was focused on a pitched battle called “Battle of the Bastards”. The tactical development of this military confrontation was inspired, as was stated by the screenwriters of the episode1, by different historical battles and especially by the encirclement put in place by Hannibal Barca in the battle of Cannae, during the Second Punic War. Focusing about this specific tactical maneuver we have developed a multidisciplinary analysis including the recent academic essay “Canne, la sconfitta che fece vincere Roma”2 written by Professor G. Brizzi, the literary sources, the iconographies and the material evidences related to the military cultures involved in the battle. We have also compared the development of the battle between Hannibal and the Roman Republic and its modern reinterpretation. Our purpose was to create a case study by analyzing the interpretation of the classical warfare in the modern media. 




Roel Konijnendijk               


The Face of Battle at Plataiai


The battle of Plataiai, the decisive engagement of the Persian Wars, has a unique place in modern analyses of ancient warfare. Instead of tactics or generalship, our understanding of the battle largely hinges on notions of which side’s equipment was superior and which side was better at close combat. The focus is entirely on the battle experience of the individual hoplite or Persian Immortal.


In light of this, it is striking that Philip Sabin, in his seminal 2000 article on the ‘Face of Battle’ in Antiquity, barely discussed Plataiai at all. However, his article makes some very interesting points that are relevant to the battle, and that can help us understand what Herodotos meant in the more puzzling parts of his description of the fighting – the most detailed description of hand-to-hand combat in any Classical Greek source.


Specifically, my paper will explore the possibility that Herodotos preserves an accurate description of the sort of tentative, protracted engagement assumed by the “pulse theory” of ancient combat. Rather than constantly charging and shoving, the two lines drew apart after the fall of the Persian shield wall, after which small local fights erupted all along the line. The battle was only decided after the Greeks in one part of the line gathered the courage to resume their assault en masse, possibly due to the death of Mardonios. If this is right, it would explain the meaning of the term othismos (‘the pushing’) Herodotos uses at this point; it would also allow us to get a better understanding of the transition of Greek infantry tactics from fluid and loosely organised formations to the rigid phalanx of Classical times.




Matt  Lloyd                  


The Spear-Famed Euboeans: Regional Variety in Early Greek Warfare (ca. 1200-600 BCE)




In a poem usually dated to the seventh century BCE, Archilochus of Paros attributes to the Euboeans a particular kind of warfare: fought at close-quarters, with swords, and few light-armed troops with slings and arrows. The “orthodox” view of Greek warfare holds that Archilochus was writing around the time at which warfare was transformed from loose formations prioritizing long-range weapons to close formation “hoplite phalanxes”, and yet the contemporary literature and archaeology indicate that particular styles of warfare might be ascribed to particular regions. In the fragmentation of the Aegean that followed the collapse of the Mycenaean Palaces, regionalism is essential to our understanding of many aspects of Greek culture, from vase painting and burial practices to political organization. It is reasonable to assume, therefore, that warfare would also vary by region.


In this paper I will present Euboea as a case study for regionalism in warfare in early Greece, from ca. 1200 to ca. 600 BCE. Euboea presents a solid example of regional variety throughout the period, from the unusual prosperity of the gulf region in the post-palatial Bronze Age (ca. 1200-1100 BCE), the “warrior graves” of its Subprotogeometric cemeteries (ca. 950-825 BCE), its eighth-century iconography, and its literary reputation including the fragment of Archilochus mentioned above. I will compare Euboea to other regions with particular characteristics throughout this time period in order to show the changing place of Euboea in the Aegean world. These will include the twelfth-century warrior burials of Achaia, the iconography of the postpalatial Argolid, and the variety of evidence from Athens. In conclusion, I will show the limits to which we can understand the regional characteristics of warfare in Early Iron Age Greece.






Andrea Scarpato                   


Agis IV and The Peloponnese


Spartan foreign policy during the reign of Agis IV represents a topic that has been neglected in recent scholarship. While this scholarship has addressed important issues such as the program of reforms advanced by the Kings Agis IV and Cleomenes III and the impact that these reforms had on Spartan society (Oliva 1971; Shimron 1972; Cartledge 2002), they have focussed on the expansionist policy carried out by Cleomenes and his intention to restore the authority of Sparta inside the Peloponnese. Foreign political expeditions undertaken by Agis, the nature of his agency in foreign policy, the issue of continuity or change in the way in which the Spartan governing bodies performed their foreign political plans, and the nature of the power relations between Spartan kings and ephors constitute topics that have not been fully addressed in the latest contributions. The application of Realism – an interpretative tool offered by International Relations Theories – to the scanty evidence for Sparta in this nebulous period may provide us with a new understanding of the ways in which Hellenistic states operated. According to Realism, states framed their foreign plans as large and monolithic human entities, which vied for hegemony.


This assumption appears to neglect important aspects which deserve attention while exploring Spartan foreign policy: the nature of the relationship between Spartan kings and ephorate, the role of single individuals, and their esteem in the international stage. As will be argued, King Agis IV was deployed by the ephors in order to perform important military expeditions inside the Peloponnese. The assessment of these expeditions will enable us to further explore the nature of the King-Ephors relationship: it will point towards a more nuanced rapport between the king and the ephors, in which the single individual played a major role. Lastly, it will show a Spartan continuity of interest for some Peloponnesian locales. 




Martine Diepenbroek            


Caesar cryptography and the Enigma Machine


The principal aim of this paper will be to analyse key aspects and examples of the use of the Caesar cipher in the Enigma machine used in World War II.


To secure his private communication in antiquity, Julius Caesar used a method which is nowadays known as the Caesar Cipher. The Caesar Cipher is an example of a cryptographic method. Nowadays, cryptography is part of the studies of mathematics and computer science, and scholars working in these fields have written numerous works in which the Caesar cipher is referred to (e.g. Bishop, 2003, 111; Churchhouse, 2002, 13; Kahate, 2013, 36; Young, 2003, 28). Yet, none of these works focus on the earliest history of the cipher; nor does any historical study. Many people do not fully appreciate the link between the earliest history of the cipher and modern communication security. The aim of the current study is to show the relevance of understanding the ancient history of the Caesar cipher; and placing this into a modern context, namely, the use of the cipher in the Enigma machine in World War II.                       


Using the remarks of Suetonius and Aulus Gellius on the Caesar cipher as a starting point, in this paper I will first explore Caesar’s own use of the Caesar cipher, and then its use in the Enigma machine. I will argue that it is highly likely that Caesar himself used the cipher very often, since he mentions many situations in his own works in which he sent or received confidential information. I will also explore the strength and reliability of the Caesar Cipher as a cryptologic method, informing its use in the Enigma Machine used by the Germans in the Second World War.




Silvannen   Gerrard              


Hellenistic War-Elephants: Dynamics of Prestige and Power Projection




     Following the conquests of Alexander the Great, the Hellenistic era (323/2 – 146 B.C.) can be seen as a ‘golden age’ of military experimentation and a time of intense cultural interaction. As such, this period saw a rise in the use of ‘exotic’ weapons, of which the most notable was the war-elephant. Originating in ancient India, the war-elephant was first encountered in battle by the Greco-Macedonians at the Hydaspes (327/6 B.C.), but after the death of Alexander (323/2 B.C.) it rapidly became a significant feature of all Hellenistic armies. Nevertheless, this animal has often been dismissed by modern scholarship as an expensive, unreliable weapon that soon lost its effectiveness in battle.


     However, by focusing solely on the military efficacy of this animal, recent scholarship (such as Serrati (2013) and Gaebel (2002)) has neglected the complex socio-political dynamics that are so fundamental to this period. Alexander’s death plunged the ‘Greek’ world into political chaos, and thus when the Hellenistic kingdoms finally emerged, there was a constant need for rulers to demonstrate their superiority and legitimise their de facto power. Since the war-elephant had acquired a symbolic resonance in Indian culture, it is my contention that the continued Hellenistic use of the elephant, as a physically impressive and ‘exotic’ animal, should be seen within the dynamics of prestige and power projection, as well as a weapon of war. Furthermore, despite the criticisms of previous scholarship there has been little attempt to explain why the use of war-elephants persisted throughout this period.


     In this paper, I therefore intend to address this gap, by going beyond merely the elephant’s military performance and assessing its potential as a symbol of kingship. I thus intend to demonstrate that when due consideration is given to the importance of the period’s cultural and political concerns, the use of the Hellenistic war-elephant is potentially far more complex that the majority of previous scholarship has allowed.




Lorenzo Paoletti           


Macedonian cavalry in the Seleucid Empire: developments and new structures at the end of the Third Century BC




Cavalry has always been the fastest, and often the most decisive, element on battlefields all over the world, at least until the introduction of fire weapons and motorised machines. The aim of my paper is to consider the evolution the Macedonian cavalry corps underwent between the death of Alexander the Great and the reign of Antiochus III. I will examine third century Seleucid cavalries, focusing on the influence of the contact with Oriental horsemanship. By presenting cavalry weaponry developments, I will attempt to define which elements derived from occidental (Greek-Macedonian) or oriental (Iranic) tradition to better comprehend how and if they influenced each other. Moreover, I will shortly examine tactics and logistics, emphasizing the role they played in the army between the end of the IV and the beginnings of the II century BC.  I will try to answer some key questions. Which were the main differences between Alexander’s and Antiochus’ III cavalries? When did the most significant Seleucid cavalry reforms happen? Why did a very efficient weapon such as IV century Macedonian cavalry so radically change? Why was Seleucid cavalry so unprepared to face Roman legions? The analysis of some pitched battles fought by Alexander and his Epigons will provide an insight view on tactics and equipment developments. The lack of sources for the first half of III century BC leads me to consider mainly the reign of Antiochus the Great. It was during this period that most of the changes took place. For the battle of Raphia (217 BC), in which occidental traditions were still strong, we have Polybius’ account (Book V). The battles of Panion (200 BC, Polybius Book XVI) and Magnesia (190 BC, Livy Book XXXVII, Appian Syriaca) showed the deep changes that had occurred after Antiochus’ Anabasis (212-205 BC, Polybius Books XI and XIII). 






Alastair Lumsden                    


Cisalpine Gaul: Fact or Fiction? Reassessing Gallo-Italic Military Development c.400-170 B.C.




The Roman literary sources depicted northern Italy as originally being inhabited by a


mixture of Etruscans, Ligurians, Umbrians, and Venetians, who were then displaced by large


waves of marauding Gallic peoples from north of the alps during the fourth century.


Consequently, modern scholarship has generally continued to adhere to these poorly


informed ethnographic assumptions of northern Italy and attributed weapons such as the


shanked javelin and Montefortino helmet to them because they were found in what was


considered to have been Gallic necropoleis. However, since the 1980s a more critical


approach to the material evidence in these necropoleis has demonstrated that, the Gallic


migrations did not displace the original inhabitants of the region, but that they rapidly


integrated themselves to create multi-ethnic and cultural communities. Yet, the results of


these studies have for the most part, not been applied to the military development of these


peoples. Therefore, northern Italy is still regarded as belonging to a pan-Gallic La Tène style


of warfare in terms of both tactics and weaponry.




The focus of this paper is to illustrate that the traditional scholarly arguments of what can


be considered Gallic military developments in northern Italy requires reassessment.


Specifically, whether the heavy shanked javelin and Montefortino helmet were in fact pieces


of Gallic military equipment. It alternatively suggests that they could be better understood


as being the products of the multi-ethnic and cultural integration of Gallic and Italic peoples,


and that they are representative of the wider military developments contemporaneously


occurring throughout the Italian peninsula. For example, the heavy shanked javelin does not


appear north of the Alps until the second century, yet it is attested amongst all the Italic


peoples from the fifth century onwards. Thus, this paper aims to demonstrate that these


Gallo-Italic forces potentially fought with largely similar tactics and weaponry as their Italic








Marcello Lusvarghi               


The Christian need of military life: the dilemmas of the comes Bonifatius in the letters of Augustine.




 Modern historiography only has a small number of documents (Aug. Ep. 185; 185A; 189; 220) concerning the relationship between the comes Bonifatius and Augustine, Bishop of Hippo: these, however, are enough to record a very close and rather complex personal connection. The aim of this paper is to provide an overview of the developments of Christian thought on the exercise of war, and then analyze how these theoretical developments were applied to the reality of events. The analysis of Augustine’s letters allows us to study a specific case that shows how the military action – performed in order to protect Africa from barbarian attacks – became necessary enough for Augustine to persuade himself that was essential to convince Bonifatius to continue to exercise his duties, instead of devoting himself to a life of Christian otium. The ten-year chronological arc in which the events described in the letters take place will also allow an examination of the relationship between the two men, in relation to the historical framework changes – with particular attention to disputes within the West imperial court – and to the needs of both.




Owen Rees          


The Athenian Muster


Scholarly interest has recently focussed on the Athenian process of hoplite conscription, the katalogos, and the unique elements of this intricate system (Christ, M. (2006) The Bad Citizen in Classical Athens; Crowley, J. (2012), Psychology of the Athenian Hoplite). However, one element that has still evaded any thorough analysis is not the system of calling the muster, but the muster itself. Taking into account how active the Athenian military was throughout the 5th century, it has not yet been ascertained where they mustered their armies, the average size of these armies, the regularity by which they were mustered, nor where they were most often sending their troops.


In this paper I shall focus on some fundamental aspects of the muster itself. From the available evidence I will attempt to identify the mustering ground(s), and why this location was chosen. In addition I shall present a collation of statistical data to create a broad perspective of the Athenian muster, including average muster sizes, the frequency of muster, and the wider demographic realities inherent in this data. In addition, I will present the naval commitment to these musters, not only to give a fuller picture of the military commitment of each call to arms, but also to help ascertain the mode of transportation that was most frequently used by an Athenian army.






Kathryn Riley              


Camouflaging Ancient Hoplite Shields


During World War I, many battleships were painted with complex patterns of geometric shapes in contrasting colours, interrupting and intersecting each other. Known as ‘dazzle camouflage’, the decoration was designed to disorder impressions of the shape, speed and direction of the vessels making them more difficult to target. I would like to offer a paper based on my hypothesis, included in my PhD research, that hoplites applied comparable sensory disruption techniques to the panoply via a number of methods including use of crests. To demonstrate this technique I shall focus, in particular, on blazon decoration.


Contrary to depictions of shield blazon decoration found in pottery (which I believe to be a narrative device to highlight aspects of depicted stories) the material culture and representations of blazons in other media, broadly speaking, reveal the predominance of concentric circles, often with additional decoration, with spiral, ‘floral’ and wheel patterns also in evidence. The blazon was likely to have been the single most observable aspect of the hoplite on the battlefield, allowing opponents to target individuals and gauge the potential size of the force. Drawing on research into optical illusion, I will argue that the aforementioned designs might have been employed for their ability to visually disrupt: that these designs might inhibit the eye’s ability to focus, potentially preventing opponents from singling out individuals, or ascertaining an individual’s line of direction. 






Hannah Ringheim                 


The Journey Home: Dedications by Greek Mercenaries in the Eastern Mediterranean during the 6th to 5th Centuries BCE.


 Perpetual military campaigns and power struggles between the major Near Eastern Empires dominated activity from the sixth to fifth centuries BCE. Events such as the Saite Dynasty’s military campaigns in the Levant, the Neo-Babylonian invasion by Nebuchadnezzar, and the subsequent Persian invasion, precipitated the need for manpower. It is in this tumultuous environment that the dissemination of foreign mercenaries occurred in the Eastern Mediterranean. For instance, literary and epigraphic sources exemplify the employment of Greek and Carian mercenaries by the Egyptian pharaohs. Likewise, archaeological evidence of Greek imports in Egypt and Israel led scholars to surmise a mercenary presence in various fortresses.


 This study of mercenary activity focuses on the consequences of the mercenary phenomenon; that is, the impact mercenaries had upon their return home. This materialises most prominently through votive dedications in religious spaces. This paper will investigate three case studies of religious centres with foreign dedications: Tel Dor in Israel, Naukratis in Egypt, and the Samian Heraion. The finds from these sites reveal the use of foreign objects as archaeological markers for mercenary activity. In turn, the provenance and functionality of these objects shed light on the motivations behind mercenary service, the types of provisions they received, and on the complex military interactions between the Aegean and the Near East. This research will provide a novel understanding on the nature of mercenary employment in antiquity not only through the literary sources of where and when these groups were employed, but also through archaeological indicators upon their return to their homeland. 






Ornella Salati (Project Platinum)               


Roman Military Documentation in the light of Latin Papyri




How did Roman military clerks work? How was the documentation linked to the operations in the field? How efficient was it?  Thanks to the physical evidence, coming both from West and East and preserved on different supports (stone, tablet, papyrus, and potsherd) it now seems possible to answer these questions. In particular Egyptian papyri provide invaluable information about features and purposes of the military paperwork. Although some scholars have discussed the various typologies of documents (Fink 1971; Watson 1974; Phang 2007; Le Bohec 2008), and have reconstructed the structure of archives and the branches of military bureaucracy (von Domaszewski 19672; Austin-Rankov 1995; Stauner 2004), until now the topic is still a field open for study.  This paper deals with the question of documents’ composition within Roman army during the first three centuries AD. The starting point is the papyrological evidence: taking into account the Latin documents, a full and update framework will be offered according to date, provenance, typology, and units. Next, a specific kind of documents will be used as case study, in order to show method of work and criteria followed by military clerks. Particular attention will be focused on the daily reports (acta diurna) recording the routine duties of Roman soldiers. The analysis will consider in detail their form (layout, script) as well as their content (specific sentences, formulas). Further reports from different locations (Bu Njem, DuraEuropos, Vindolanda) will help to interpret Egyptian evidence. Comparison will shed light on significant and typical features of the documents, and hence on skills of the clerks within the Roman army.




Marco Sferruzza          


Free yet not wholly free: Herodotus and the “rules of war” – the case of Sparta


Greek, namely hoplite, warfare has been traditionally marked as a particularly regulated way of waging war, with many constraints regarding both the behaviour towards the enemy and the duty towards the comrades in arms. Today this view has been substantially challenged, for Greeks would often disregard those norms which in theory were severely abided to.


The ambiguity of Greek warfare ethics does not however require us to dismiss the notion of the “rules of war” altogether. Greek culture can be fully aware of the complex relationship between ideology and reality in warfare, as Herodotus’ Histories very well show.


The motif of the nomos despotes which compels Spartans to “never flee from the battle before any multitude of men, but must abide at their post and there conquer or die” (Hdt. VII 104, 5) is omnipresent in Herodotus’ narrative. While Leonidas’ last stand at Thermopylae seems to be the exemplary incarnation of this supreme rule, Herodotus reports also cases of less clear-cut compliance. The story of Aristodemus, the lone survivor of Thermopylae, illustrates an incongruent implementation of the law: charged of cowardice by his compatriots, he would seek a heroic death at Plataea; his fellow citizens would however ignore his sacrifice because he died fighting out of the phalanx, not abiding by the rules. Again, at Plataea, when the commander Pausanias orders to retreat to a safer spot before the battle, only Amompharetus, a stereotypical Spartan, objects and refuses to move, but his blind compliance to the nomos despotes is not praised.


A most clarifying example of the complexity of such a rule is given by the struggle for Thyrea between Sparta and Argos: the Battle of the Champions is the archetype of Spartan ‘best behaviour’ in battle personified by Othryadas, yet shows also the failure of preliminary agreements since both parties would disagree on the outcome and fight a second battle.




Simon McLoughlin


Acropolis Now (or why we should stop looking at American wars when making comparisons with ancient conflict).


Even before Gilbert Murray drew parallels between Euripides’ Trojan Women and the Boer War, academics have looked to ancient descriptions of combat to find relevance to wars of their own time.


In recent discussions, Jonathan Shay’s Achilles in Vietnam (1994) established a baseline for psychological comparisons of ancient and modern combat by examining echoes of the Homeric epics in modern cases Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). However, despite the wider view taken by publications such as Peter Meineck and David Konstan’s Combat Trauma and the Ancient Greeks (2014), populist works like Bryan Doerries’ The Theatre of War (2015), whilst including other battlespaces and contexts, also firmly recentre the arguments around American perceptions.


This presentation will argue that comparisons with American wars need to be treated with caution and will address:


How people with no combat experience obtain their underlying assumptions of what it is like to go to war.


Why those assumptions need to be challenged.


Why Vietnam is a poor match with Troy.


Why the US military is itself a significant outlier.


Why, whilst acknowledging the merits of Shay and Doerries’ work, Classicists should consider different models and reach out to their own militaries to find answers.




Jeroen Wijnendael


Who were the Buccellarii?


With those who cherish higher ambitions, the desire for wealth is entertained with a view to power and influence and the means of bestowing favours; Marcus Crassus, for example, not long since declared that no amount of wealth was enough for the man who aspired to be the foremost citizen of the state, unless with the income from it he could maintain an army.” (Cicero, De Officiis, 1.25)




A defining trait of modern warlords is that they have access to armed forces primarily obedient to them and accessible outside state control, for which in return they are obliged to provide patronage. In the Late Roman world, the buccellarii have often been regarded as a direct antecedent of this phenomenon. From the early fifth century onwards, various high-ranking imperial officials are reported owning significant armed retinues, sometimes even employed against the state during times of rebellion. By the sixth century, the phenomenon of buccellarii was both entrenched in the western successor kingdoms (such as the Visigoths) and the eastern Roman empire, where they had developed into some of the finest mounted shock troops in the field armies. However, the origins of the buccellarii is steeped in much uncertainty. They have been traditionally seen as mercenaries or private bodyguards, originating from Europe’s Barbaricum. With this paper I would like to survey the earliest evidence for the buccellarii and argue that they were neither a form of ‘military privatization’ or a barbarian Gefolgschaft transplanting itself on Roman territory. Instead I will demonstrate that the buccellarii were state troops whose function altered during times of political volatility.


*** ***


Stuart McCunn




Running Prefectly: The Transition of the Praetorian Prefect from a Military to Administrative Position




For the first three centuries of the Roman Empire the praetorian prefects were among the most important generals in the state and commanders of the emperor’s praetorian guard. By the fourth century, the praetorian guard had been disbanded and the prefects were now among the most powerful civil officials in the Roman state, second only to the emperor in judicial, administrative, and land tax matters. The shift from a predominantly military to an entirely civil post is the largest change that the institution underwent during its lifetime and examining it in detail can tell us much about the circumstances of the third century and the structure of the empire.




In this paper I will examine the changing nature of the praetorian prefects during the third century “crisis” and the shifting of their authority between military and administrative roles. While the empire was rent by division, the government became more openly autocratic and militaristic. Were the responsibilities of the prefect moving in the opposite direction? There will be a close focus on the increasing responsibility for military supply since this was to lead to the prefect’s most important duty in the late empire: his overseeing of the land tax. Through this analysis a greater understanding of the military and economic structure of the empire can be achieved.




Alexandros Koutsoukis


The Surrender of Acanthus in the Peloponnesian War: Process Sociology and Thucydides




The surrender of the Acanthians to Brasidas has been described both positively and negatively. Acanthus is praised for not committing the Melian mistake and at the same time criticised for being seduced by Brasidas. We wonder if Norbert Elias’ sociological work, on what he coined the civilising process, can illuminate the surrender of Acanthus. This paper attempts to do so by comparing the surrender of Acanthus with that of Plataea and Melos. We focalise on a key relationship in civilising and decivilising processes: the fluctuating ‘We/They’ identification and its impact on self-restraints on violence. In Acanthus the gradual change of the ‘We/They’ identification is enabled by Brasidas’ self-restraint and rhetoric. This sets in motion his glorification and military successes. In Plataea, in contrast, we see the struggle to ossify the ‘We/They’ identification. The Thebans portray the Plataeans as Atticisers. This enables the Plataean massacre. Similarly, in Melos, the Athenian self-aggrandisement rests on an inflexible ‘We/They’ identification. This leads to another tragedy. Overall, Brasidas’ rhetoric and actions, and Thucydides’ ambiguous narrative evince the challenge of emotional control and changing We/They identifications amidst a decivilising process that begins with Plataea and reaches a high point with Melos. Necessity, like the Peloponnesian War, Elias argues, creates incentives to control emotions and moderate self-interest. The surrender of Acanthus to Brasidas, out of both seduction and fear, is such a brittle effort. Yet, Elias observed, international competition for power and security also lead to a difficult to control decivilising process and ‘elimination struggles’. Geopolitical struggles generate fear, and reduce emotional control and self-restraints on violence, like the disintegration of the community of Hellas. Even instances of surrender, the least regulated type of warfare for the Greeks, should not be considered in isolation from the pattern which informs them; the decivilising process of the Peloponnesian War.




Lizzie Pearson


Livy 44.16.4: The Mystery of the Six Thousand Togas


In the 44th book of his history, Livy records that in 169BC the urban praetor Gaius Sulpicius let the contracts for clothing and horses to be transported to the consul Quintus Marcius Philippus and his army in Macedonia.  Among the required items were six thousand togas.  This detail is given by Livy as entirely unremarkable, appearing in a list alongside thirty thousand tunics and two hundred horses.  The contracting out of supplies such as clothing, food and horses within Livy’s narrative is not isolated to this example, and is presented as an ordinary activity to be undertaken by the urban praetor.  However, as Briscoe has remarked, the request for togas is a unique and surprising inclusion.  For whom were these togas destined?  Briscoe concludes that it is evidence for the regular wearing of the toga in camp by Roman soldiers, but, unlike the simultaneously requested thirty thousand tunics, the six thousand togas cannot be easily tallied with a body or subsection of troops or officers.  This paper will examine the problem, aiming to explain, or at least provide credible suggestions for, Philippus’ request for six thousand togas.






Dan Powers




Innovative Warfare in Alexander’s Conquest of Asia




            By the time of Alexander’s campaigns against the Achaemenid Empire, mercenaries were in wide use throughout the classical world. Both Macedonia and Persia made use if hired soldiers, and did so in different ways both on and off the battlefield.  What impacts do these mercenaries have on the battlefields, if any? Do the specialized troop types impact the overall performance of each army during the battle? Does the presence of specialized mercenary troops become a catalyst for internal development of that troop type to avoid the need for mercenaries?


            The late Fourth Century witnessed “game changing” military innovation that allowed for major developments in both operational and tactical execution of war. Did the mercenary commanders, or the availability of any specialized troop types contribute to the atmosphere of successful ‘combined arms warfare,’ which proved to be so effective on the battlefield?


            An analysis of the campaign of the Fall of Tyre will enable an analysis of the different schemes in which both sides used mercenary forces to supplement their original sources. This paper will help to provide a larger operational and strategic picture for two of the most flexible armies of the ancient world. By exploring the usage and outcomes of battles in which mercenaries play a role, I hope to learn the larger impact on operational and strategic military thought.






Eoghan Finn




The Men in Command”: Officers of Non-legionary forces in the Writings of Tacitus




Lucius Stertinius, a cavalry commander appointed for his innate understanding of cavalry tactics (Tac. Ann. 2.8-11, 17, 22), Julius Briganticus, a Batavian nobleman appointed due to his hatred of his uncle (Tac. Hist. 4.70), Aquilius, a primus pilus forced to take command of some of the remnants of the armies of Germany during the Batavian Revolt because there was no else left (Tac. Hist. 4.15). None of these men appear in the epigraphic record, yet they are among the most memorable officers mentioned in Tacitus’ Annals, Histories and Agricola.  The majority of research into non-legionary officers has focused primarily on the epigraphic sources, from which we simply do not get information like the cases above.


While many scholars either dismiss the literary evidence, or merely employ it to supplement the epigraphy, careful analysis of these sources offers a more complete picture of the nature of these men and their careers. This paper will explore how Tacitus treats the officers of the auxilia and other non-legionary forces and will trace the development of the careers of such men, showing how they relate to the evolution of non-legionary contingents over the course of the first century AD.


An investigation of the terminology used in relation to these officers reveals the very fluid nature of the non-legionary arm of Roman military system and sheds light on an evolution which is not necessarily evident from the epigraphy.  This can offer much needed insights into the emergence of the regular auxilia in the latter half of the first century AD.




Ido Yahalom




Reinterpreting Diodorus


A new approach for elephant tactics in the Hellenistic world: The battles of Paraitacene, Gabiene, Gaza and Panion


Scholarly literature on elephant warfare in the ancient Mediterranean (4th – 2nd c. BCE) offers some understanding of the use of war elephants. Several attempts were made to suggest solutions to two main problems of elephant tactics: a – The deployment of the war elephants and light infantry in front of the phalanx in the center. b – The battle that took place between the heavy infantry of the two opposing armies.


The customary approach (based primarily on Diodorus) claims that the war elephants were deployed in front of the entire phalanx with intervals filled with light-infantry. After the elephants’ assault, the elephants retreated through spaces in the phalanx together with the light-infantry; or the phalanx advanced through the intervals between the elephants and engaged the enemy’s heavy infantry.


However, internal contradiction in Diodorus’ own descriptions of armies’ arrays and of the following battles; as well as Polybius’ criticism for such a maneuver by the phalanx (criticism highly ignored by scholars), demonstrate the need for a different solution.  


This paper offers a novel analysis for the battles of Paraitacene, Gabiene, Gaza (4th c. BCE) and Panion (c. 200 BCE). The main contributions to current research are: The intervals between the elephants were narrower than hitherto assumed, either for defensive purposes or for offensive shock-attack. That meant a shorter line of elephant screen covering only part of the army’s center. The units of the phalanx that stood behind a screen of elephants did not fight. Those who actually fought did not have elephants in front of them.  


The light infantry-men were deployed in a line behind the elephants and not in the spaces between them, a tactic practiced for a while by the Hellenistic armies but not by Carthage or Rome.




Martin R. Bates and Keith Parfitt


 Dover’s lost harbours from the Bronze Age to the Tudors: an archaeological perspective


The present harbour in Dover owes much to its role as a front line port for both military and civilian activities.  The modern port can be traced backwards through its 20th century wartime role to early attempts to create a safe haven for ships in the time of Henry VIII (the Paradise Pent) (Biddle and Summerson,1982) .  Older structures, documenting harbour construction can be traced back to the Roman period when the Classis Britannica established a major fort in the area (Philp, 1981).  Finally traces of activity on the water can also be seen in the Bronze Age, as evidenced by the discovery of the Bronze Age Boat in 1992 (Clark, 2004).


 Despite the long history of harbour construction many of the constructed features seem to have had limited lifespans and were subject to infilling and abandonment due to natural processes of longshore drift.  In this paper we examine two phases of harbour building in Dover.  Recent evidence from within the town centre area has allowed us to re-evaluate the nature of the port facilities and their demise in the Roman period.  Secondly we examine early attempts in the Tudor period to create a safe haven for boats in the vicinity of the Western Docks.  Our paper relies on recent archaeological observations and palaeoenvironmental reconstruction and dating to create a new narrative for harbour development associated with military activity.