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Curiosities of ancient Rome (Army)

The world of ancient Romans abounded in a number of amazing curiosities and information. The source of knowledge about the life of the Romans are mainly works left to us by ancient writers or discoveries. The Romans left behind a lot of strange information and facts that are sometimes hard to believe.

Dogs on battlefield

Ancient Egyptians were the first to use dogs on the battlefield. Those proved to be so effective that managed themselves during one of the battles between rebellious slaves and the royal army possessing those dogs.

Roman testudo – defensive formation of legions

Romans used the testudo formation to protect themselves from the enemy’s fire. The legionaries resembled a turtle-covered shell – hence the name. It was a compact rectangular formation in which the legionaries (usually 27) from the first row and from the sides of the formation held the shields in front of them or from the side of their exposed side, while the legionaries from the inner ranks held the shields horizontally above each other and over the legionaries of the first and side ranks, thus creating a shield of the whole formation covering themselves from enemy shots.

Arcani – Roman agents in Britain

Arcani, also called areani, were agents in Roman military units based in Roman Britain during the later part of the island’s occupation. They were used as both scouts of legions and secret spies. Many of them were mercenaries. This unit was disbanded by the father of the later emperor Theodosius I – Flavius Theodosius, for their participation in conspiracies.

Fabricae – Roman armory

Until the fourth century CE, the production of armor and weapons in the Roman Empire was centralized and their execution was the responsibility of the so-called fabricae. Armories were deployed throughout entire provinces and their main task was the production of military equipment.

Aquilifer – Roman soldier signifer

Aquilifer was Roman Roman soldier signifer bearing the eagle standard of a Roman legion. He belonged to a group of legionaries (principales) and was entitled to double pay (duplicarius). He enjoyed enormous prestige and belonged to the best protected people in the legion during the battle. Not only he did carry the sign of the legion, whose loss was the greatest dishonor for the individual and Rome, but he also probably kept watch over the money of the legion. For this reason, soldiers surrounded him with special protection.

Why was Roman army unique?

Roman army was unique in many aspects and to this day its organization is copied in many different variants. At the time of the greatest Roman conquests, during the reign of emperor Trajan, the area controlled by his army was more or less the shape of a 9,000 x 16 thousand km rectangle. In this vast territory from Britain to Asia Minor and North Africa, 27 legions were stationing – about 150,000. people. And Romans could mobilize even more – about 300,000.

In Roman army, machines were commonly used

Roman army and the weapons it used are associated (especially for the laymen on this subject) mainly with the equipment of a Roman legionary. Who has not heard of a rectangular shield called a scutum, a short sword called gladius or a spear – a pilum? Not everyone, however, even heard about siege machines and their role in the Roman army, and some know them only from films like “Asterix and Obelix”.

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