The Western Frontiers of Imperial Rome

By Steven K. Drummond; Lynn H. Nelson | Go to book overview
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pottery, and other wares began to take on a Celtic or German look, while at the same time they became cruder and more primitive in concept and execution. The design of frontier goods was a clear sign not so much that Roman industry on the frontier had ceased to advance, but that it had ceased to be Roman.

Such conditions are, of course, advantageous to any business, regardless of the era.
R. J. Forbes, Studies in Ancient Technology 7:153.
By the third century A.D., complaints surfaced regarding the failure of Rome's mineral resources. Cyrian, "Ad Demitriam," 5:58, says that "to a less extent are slabs of marble dug out of the disembowelled and wearied mountains; to a less extent do the mines already exhausted offer quantities of silver and gold, and the impoverished veins are lessened day by day."
Much of the metal required by the army was used for weapons such as javelin heads, arrow points, artillery bolt points, and slingers' pellets--items that were, in short, literally meant to be thrown away. Other items were easily worn out, bent, or broken. A more dramatic example of the army's profligate ways with metal lay in the fact that each retiring legionary by custom kept his own armor. This meant that the army of the western frontier required some 4,000 new suits of armor annually, simply to replace those lost to retirement.
H. Russell Robinson, The Armour of Imperial Rome, p. 183, states that legionaries depicted on Trajan's Column appear to be wearing body armor made of metal strips and plates. An iron-bound wooden chest was found at Corbridge under the floor of a building close to the headquarters. The chest contained tools, nails, bundles of javelin heads, a sword scabbard, and a quantity of iron armor. See also J. B. Campbell, "Roman Body Armour in the First Century A.D.," Congress of Roman Frontier Studies: 1969, p. 82.
Robin Birley, Vindolanda: A Roman Frontier Post on Hadrian's Wall, p. 130, includes among the iron items found at Vindolanda ballista bolts, a sickle, two heavy stone hammers (one weighing 14.5 pounds), knives, needles, four keys, thirteen stylus pens, a razor, meat hooks, and a multitude of nails, varying from small studs to others considerably longer. N. S. Angus, G. T. Brown, and H. F. Cleere , "The Iron Nails from the Roman Legionary Fortress at Inchtuthil, Perthshire," Journal of Iron and Steel Industry 200 ( 1962):956-968, discuss the three-quarters of a million nails discovered at the first century A.D. legionary fort at Inchtuthil. See also Geza Alföldy, Noricum, p. 109.
Strabo, Geographica 4:5. Tacitus, Agricola 12, states that Britain's wealth in gold, silver, and other metals made it worth conquering. See also Pliny, Naturalis Historia 24:17.
Oliver Davies, Roman Mines in Europe, p. 163. See also Sheppard Sunderland Frere , Britannia: A History of Roman Britain, p. 283.
H. D. H. Elkington, "The Mendip Lead Industry," in The Roman West Country, ed. Keith Branigan and P. J. Fowler, pp. 183-184, states that pre-Roman


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