6. F2011 Vindolanda Letters

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Letters found at Vindolanda illuminate life on the frontier of Roman Britain

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  • Vindos – whiteLanda – enclosure
  • cornets and buccinae. The trumpet sounds the charge and the retreat. The cornets are used only to regulate the motions of the colors; the trumpets serve when the soldiers are ordered out to any work without the colors; but in time of action, the trumpets and cornets sound together. The classicum, which is a particular sound of the buccina or horn, is appropriated to the commander-in-chief and is used in the presence of the general, or at the execution of a soldier, as a mark of its being done by his authority. The ordinary guards and outposts are always mounted and relieved by the sound of trumpet, which also directs the motions of the soldiers on working parties and on field days. The cornets sound whenever the colors are to be struck or planted.The tuba of ancient Rome is a military signal trumpet, quite different from the modern tuba. The tuba (from Latin tubus, "tube") was produced around 500 BC. Its shape was straight, in contrast to the military buccina or cornu, which was more like the modern tuba in curving around the body. Its origin is thought to be Etruscan, and it is similar to the Greek salpinx. About four feet in length, it was made usually of bronze, and was played with a detachable bone mouthpiece.uditum'(t he bucina, which is made of bronze, is curved toward itself in a circular fashion; the cornu, which is made from bovine material, is decorated with silver, and produces a modulated sound according to the ability and force of the breath of the player) by restoring the Vegetius text to its original form ('cornuquodi n semetaereocirculoflectitur; bucinaquaee x urisagrestibus,argentonexa, temperatumartespirituquecanentisfatusemittitauditum'), we shall arrive at an exhaustive description of the two instruments, according to which the cornuis the instrument' of bronze and curved in a circulars hape' (see Pl. VII (a) and (b), where a cornicenisportrayedwith his instruments),8 and the bucinai s that which is 'made of bovine horn', decorated with silver, which produces a modulated sound, according to the ability and the force of the breath of the player (Pls. IX (a) and (b); X (a) and (b)).9 Thus one
  • heaven by continual rain and cloud,
  • A letter from one slave to another about preparations for the Saturnalia festivalThe household of an officer in the Roman army included slaves, who appear both in the correspondence and documents found at Vindolanda. On the back of this letter from Severus to Candidus, referring to some payment for the Saturnalia festival, Candidus is described as a slave of Genialis, and there is no doubt that Severus was also a slave. The Saturnalia, a festival in December, was particularly significant to slaves; it was the one day of the year on which they were formally allowed to change places with their owners.Translation:'Severus to his Candidus, greetings. Regarding the ... for the Saturnalia, I ask you, brother, to see to them at a price of 4 or six asses and radishes to the value of not less than 1/2 denarius. Farewell, brother.'Back: 'To Candidus, slave of Genialis the prefect, from Severus, slave of ?16 as to a denarius
  • Roman Britain, late 1st or early 2nd century ADVindolanda Roman fort (modern Chesterholm), NorthumberlandIn the commanding officer's residence (praetorium) at Vindolanda, probably during the occupation by Cerialis and his family, someone took a wooden writing-tablet on which a private letter had been begun, but not finished. They wrote on the back of it, in a rather good hand, a complete line from the second half of Virgil's Aeneid(9.473).It was certainly not a readily memorable line, which makes us wonder: Were the texts of Virgil available at Vindolanda? Were they used for writing practice as is commonly found on papyri? By whom? Cerialis' children?Last word should be urbem
  • A writing tablet records a squad of builders being sent torepair or construct this bath house, around AD 100. The garrison was then the 1,000 strong Ninth Cohort of Batavians. The building was demolished in the mid second century, being too large for the reduced garrison of 500 men.
  • 5c Bronze enamelled wheel-shaped brooch; Corbridge (Scale I:I). 5.5 cm.6 Gold wheel-pendant; Dolaucothi (Scale 2:I). 2.2 cm
  • The largest single concentration in the distribution of hairpins in the 3rd century has come fromthe baths, and in particular the drain running through the floor of the changing room. In thecontext of changing clothes and preparing for a bath it is not surprising that so many shouldcome from this area. It is more difficult to explain why hairpins should be found in reasonablenumbers from the bath house toilet drains. A possibility explanation is that the hairpins couldhave been washed down into the toilet drain from the changing room drains before becominglodged the toilet sediment. It is difficult to ascertain whether or not the dominance of bonehairpins in the archaeological record from Vindolanda reflects that fact that bone was thematerial of choice, readily available and therefore cheaper than metal, shale or jet, or wassimply less durable than copper alloy, and therefore more liable to break and be discarded.The dwelling immediately to the east of the baths also produced a number of hairpins as it hasfor a number of different artefact categories in this study such as beads, spindle whorls andgaming counters.
  • In the third century there was a degree of commonality between intramural and extramural areasof the site of Vindolanda in terms of leisure activities represented by gaming counters. Thedeposits of gaming counters matches that of military kit (section 4.4), and industry (section4.12) in the 3rd century extramural areas. Therefore although counters have been chosen asrepresenting a ‘shared activity’, the results of this depositional pattern could be interpreted asbeing military by association with other categories of artefacts that have been designated asbeing part of military kit.
  • The lowdeposition rate of artefacts associated with women inside the fort (ramparts aside) compared tothe evidence from the extramural area suggests that although women were most definitely notexcluded in the 3rd century their presence may have been in some way limited. Some mayquestion whether women, other than those associated with centurions or commanding officers,were permitted to stay inside the fort at night. The evidence presented here would support thetheory for female day time activities such as spinning where daylight would have beenpreferable. However, it could be argued that the evidence for women equates to actual residenceif personal adornment is taken into account. For surely it is more likely that the majority ofthese types of artefact would have been deposited when undressing at night. This is of courseconjecture but the results of the artefact distribution, have, I believe, successfully shown that thewalls of the Vindolanda fort acted as a demarcation line in the 3rd century but also that theywere porous in both directions and cannot therefore be regarded as a great divide.
  • 6. F2011 Vindolanda Letters

    1. 1. Vindolanda<br />gwynfinn<br />You’ve Got Mail!<br />white (fair)<br />llan<br />
    2. 2. Signaling<br />
    3. 3. Short Range Communication<br />Trumpets<br />Charge, retreat<br />Cornets ( played by cornicen)<br />Motion of colors<br />Classicumor buccina(horn)<br />Used by commander, salutes, executions<br />Tuba (played by tubicen)<br />Signal trumpet<br />Vegetius, De Re Militari<br />
    4. 4. Trajan’s Column<br />
    5. 5.
    6. 6. Longer range communication<br />Beacons<br />Semaphores<br />Coded signals<br />Manpower needed?<br />caelumcrebrisimbribus ac nebulisfoedum<br />
    7. 7. Signaling<br />The other 'evidence' from field archaeology, aerial photography and excavations for Roman military signalling systems is hypothetical, and varies from the ridiculous to the inconclusive. <br />Donaldson, “Signalling, Communications and the Roman Imperial Army” 1988<br />Probable Method: pony express<br />
    8. 8. Vindolanda<br />
    9. 9. Resources<br />Find slag<br />Find coal in 2nd C.<br />
    10. 10.
    11. 11.
    12. 12. Where?<br />
    13. 13. The Place<br />
    14. 14. When? Stages<br />
    15. 15.
    16. 16. Who?<br />
    17. 17. Leading Cast<br />Flavius Cerialis, Prefect<br />AeliusBrocchus, another prefect (off-stage)<br />
    18. 18. Roman Names<br />
    19. 19. Significant Others<br />Sulpicia Lepidina, wife of Flavius<br />Claudia Severa, wife of Aelius<br />
    20. 20. Their Home<br />
    21. 21. Correspondents<br />Felicio, a centurion<br />Priuatis, a slave<br />Caecilius September, prefect of a cavalry unit<br />
    22. 22. The Extras<br />Types of auxiliary units<br />Quingenaria or milliaria<br />Equitata<br />VIIII Batavians<br />I Tungrians<br />Itinerant cavalry, legionaries, other units<br />
    23. 23. Cavalry Present<br />
    24. 24. Bronze military diploma<br />Malpas, Cheshire 103 CE<br />To:<br />Reburrus, a Spanish decurion in the 1st Pannonian cavalry<br />
    25. 25. Military Diploma<br />From Hadrian for the units:<br />which are in Britain…. … soldiers who have served twenty-five years and received an honourable discharge …. To them and to their children for posterity has been granted … citizenship.<br />
    26. 26. Marriage<br />
    27. 27. Life at VindolandaThe Written Record<br />
    28. 28. Not Written on Stone<br />Papyrus<br />Vellum<br />Wax tablet – business and legal use<br />Ink tablet – ephemeral use<br />
    29. 29. Wax Writing Tablet/Styli<br />Found in or near the River Walbrook, London<br />1st or 2nd century<br />
    30. 30. Wax Writing Tablet-Vindolanda<br />
    31. 31. Writing Tablets and Scribes<br />PROC AVG DEDERVNT BRIT PROV <br />'The imperial procurators of the province of Britain issued this<br />
    32. 32. Ox Goad<br />Or Pen?<br />
    33. 33. Challenge-Reading the Tablets<br />Conservation<br />Dirt: Infra-red photography<br />Reading script<br />New words, new spelling<br />Filling in missing parts<br />Formulaic writing<br />Standard abbreviations<br />Recognized names<br />
    34. 34. Script<br />
    35. 35. Cerialis Seeks Advancement<br />Now (?), in whatever way you wish, fulfil what I expect of you and ... so furnish me with friends that thanks to you I may be able to enjoy a pleasant period of military service.<br />
    36. 36. Wishing Cerialis Success in his Upcoming Meeting with the Governor<br />
    37. 37. Expenses<br />Dinners with Brocchus<br />Hunting<br />Distribution of beer to the decurions<br />Chickens<br />Dinner guests<br />Holidays <br />
    38. 38. Account<br />
    39. 39. Account - Details<br />Cloaks, number 6, 11 /2 denarii each, total 69 denarii<br />Skillets, number 4, denarii 2 7/8 and 1 as each, total 11¾ denarii.<br />Scarlet curtain (?), measuring 11 ½ , total 54 ½ + denarii<br />Hair, 9 pounds in weight, 5¾ denarii per pound, total 51¾ denarii.<br />Drawers, number 10, 2 ½ denarii each, total 25 denarii.<br />
    40. 40. Supplies – Detailed List<br /><ul><li>Wheat
    41. 41. Hides from tannery at Catterick
    42. 42. Send cash
    43. 43. Delivery delay because the bad roads would have resulted in injuries to the animals</li></li></ul><li>Inventory<br />
    44. 44. Buying Food for the Holiday, etc.<br /><ul><li>Barley
    45. 45. Beer
    46. 46. Wine
    47. 47. Fish-sauce</li></li></ul><li>More for the Saturnalia<br />Back: To Candidus, slave of Genialis the prefect, from Severus, slave of  ?<br />Severus to his Candidus, greetings. Regarding the ... for the Saturnalia, I ask you, brother, to see to them at a price of 4 or six asses and radishes to the value of not less than 1/2 denarius. Farewell, brother.’<br />
    48. 48. Recipe<br />Found in kitchen<br /><ul><li>Garlic
    49. 49. Spiced wine
    50. 50. Olives ?
    51. 51. Salt ?</li></li></ul><li>New Year’s Day Sacrifice<br />
    52. 52. Early<br />Late<br />Footwear<br />
    53. 53. Lepidina’s‘Designer’ Sandal <br />
    54. 54. Birthday Invitation<br />To SulpiciaLepidina from Claudia Severa, wife of AeliusBrocchus<br />On 11 September, sister, for the day of the celebration of my birthday, I give you a warm invitation to make sure that you come to us, to make the day more enjoyable for me by your arrival, if you are present (?).<br />
    55. 55. Birthday Letter<br />
    56. 56. Child’s Sock<br />
    57. 57. HW<br />INTEREA PAVIDAM VOLITANS PINNA TA .VBEM segn.<br />Meanwhile, the winged [bird, rumor], flying though the trembling city. Virgil IX 473 Slack<br />
    58. 58. Neglecting HW?<br />
    59. 59. Damaged pottery<br />From Graufinesque, S. Gaul<br />
    60. 60. The Rank and File<br />
    61. 61. Roll call<br />18 May, net number of the First Cohort of Tungrians, of which the commander is IuliusVerecundus the prefect: 752, including centurions 6 of whom there are absent:<br />[list numbers of absentees and where they are]<br />
    62. 62. Work<br />Three groups <br /><ul><li>Building a hospitium
    63. 63. Working at lime-kilns
    64. 64. Getting clay for making wattle fences</li></li></ul><li>Recommendation Letter<br />
    65. 65. Clothing <br />I have sent (?) you ... pairs of socks from Sattua, two pairs of sandals and two pairs of underpants, two pairs of sandals ... Greet ...ndes, Elpis, Iu..., ...enus, Tetricus and all your messmates with whom I pray that you live in the greatest good fortune<br />
    66. 66. Expense Account<br /><ul><li>Wine
    67. 67. Barley
    68. 68. Wagon-axles
    69. 69. Carriage
    70. 70. Accommodation
    71. 71. Vests</li></li></ul><li>Travel<br />
    72. 72. Account of Loan(?) of Wheat<br />
    73. 73. Request for Leave<br />I ask, my lord Cerialis, that you consider me a worthy person to whom to grant leave<br />
    74. 74. Masclus’ Request<br />P.S. My fellow soldiers have no beer. Please order some to be sent.<br />
    75. 75. Purchases by Lower Ranks<br /><ul><li>Pepper
    76. 76. Tallow
    77. 77. Towels
    78. 78. Overcoat
    79. 79. Thongs</li></li></ul><li>Complaint<br />I want you to know that I am in very good health, as I hope you are in turn, you neglectful man, who have sent me not even one letter. But I think that I am behaving in a more considerate fashion in writing to you ... to you, brother, ... my messmate.<br />
    80. 80. Mistreatment - Complaint<br /> I implore your majesty not to allow me, an innocent man, to have been beaten with rods… I implore your mercifulness not to allow me, a man from overseas and an innocent one, about whose good faith you may inquire, to have been bloodied by rods as if I had committed some crime.<br />
    81. 81. Intelligence on the Britons<br />... the Britons are unprotected by armour (?). There are very many cavalry. The cavalry do not use swords nor do the wretched Britons (Brittunculi) mount in order to throw javelins.<br />
    82. 82. British Uprising<br />
    83. 83. Fort<br />Vicus<br />
    84. 84. Development of Vici<br />Traditional model<br />Extra mural area with bath house and a few traders and camp followers<br />Economic development<br />Some political independence<br />Survive dismantling of the fort<br />Military annexes or fortified civilian annexes<br />
    85. 85. Extramural Vindolanda<br />Antonine (~160) <br />Defensive enclosure perhaps to facilitate wagon parks, horse lines<br />Severan (~210)<br />Stone fort<br />3rd century<br />Settlement<br />
    86. 86. Vindolanda 3-4 C.<br />
    87. 87. Baths<br />
    88. 88. Baths<br />
    89. 89. Footwear for the Baths<br />
    90. 90. Roman-Celtic Temple<br />
    91. 91. Model altar and stands<br />
    92. 92. Brooch and pendant<br />
    93. 93. The Environment<br />c. 180 CE<br />85-92 CE<br />
    94. 94. Traditional View<br />Fort – combatants<br />Vicus – noncombatants<br />Merchants<br />Women<br />
    95. 95. In the vicus or nearby<br />Oxherd; keeper of pigs<br />Brewer<br />Veteran<br />Guesthouse<br />
    96. 96. Finds in barracks<br />Female shoes – not just associated with prefect<br />Bracelets and beads at Catterick<br />
    97. 97. Shoes in barracks2nd C.<br />21% smaller sizes<br />
    98. 98.
    99. 99.
    100. 100.
    101. 101.
    102. 102. Women in the fort - 3rd & 4th C.<br />Weaving work<br />Not just associated with prefects or centurions<br />Fort boundaries porous in both directions<br />

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