The Western Frontiers of Imperial Rome

By Steven K. Drummond; Lynn H. Nelson | Go to book overview

IV
PASTORAL PURSUITS: RANCHING AND GRAZING ON THE FRONTIER

We have concentrated on agricultural development in our discussion of the economies and societies of the Roman Empire's frontier distracts for a number of reasons. The supply of wheat was the first and most pressing need in feeding the army, and the villas that increased cereal production along the frontier left remains that can be uncovered and analyzed by archaeologists. It is possible in this way to fix the sites of agricultural exploitation and to trace their evolution over time. The same cannot be said for husbandry and ranching. These activities, even if practiced on a large scale, leave few detectable marks on the landscape; nor are they fixed in place, as agriculture is fixed to sites with arable land or capital improvements. Ranching sites can be shifted with ease over great distances. Although one can determine a great deal from the study of animal remains, such as bones, found at centers of consumption, these remains offer little information as to their origin. Since animals can walk, ranching is far less affected than agriculture by the need to locate near existing transportation routes. Nevertheless, no discussion of the economic development and social structure of the empire's frontier districts would be complete without a consideration of pastoral pursuits. Agriculture and pastoralism, together with mining and forestry, were the principal means of both exploiting of the resources of the frontier and filling the basic needs of the army for supplies and materials.


Military Demands for Leather

It is difficult for the modern reader to imagine the variety of uses to which animals and animal by-products were put in Roman times. If

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The Western Frontiers of Imperial Rome
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • List of Maps vii
  • Preface ix
  • I- The Edge of Empire 3
  • II- The Frontier Takes Shape 13
  • Notes 35
  • III- Feeding the Army- The Agrarian Settlement 42
  • Notes 70
  • IV- Pastoral Pursuits- Ranching and Grazing on the Frontier 77
  • Notes 96
  • V- Trading on and beyond the Frontier 101
  • Notes 122
  • VI- The Towns and Cities of the Frontier 127
  • Notes 147
  • VII- The Growth of Industry 152
  • Notes 169
  • VIII- The "Romanization" of the Frontier 172
  • Notes 191
  • IX- The Gods and Goddesses of the Frontier 196
  • Notes 212
  • X- Final Thoughts 216
  • Notes 224
  • Chronology of the Roman Frontier 225
  • Glossary 235
  • Selected Bibliography 249
  • Index 267
  • About the Authors 277
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