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Roman Military & Warfare

The Roman military played a crucial role in the expansion and maintenance of the Roman Empire. This collection of articles examines the organization, tactics, and strategies of the Roman military, as well as the weapons and technology used in warfare. Learn about the key battles and campaigns that shaped Roman history, and gain insight into the legacy of Roman military power.

Representative image of the Roman cavalry. Source: furyon / Adobe Stock  By Aleksa Vučković

Roman Cavalry, the Backbone of Rome’s Great Expansion

In ancient times, no army was truly powerful without a cavalry . The equivalent of modern tanks and special forces, cavalrymen were the terror of the ancient battlefields. A force to be reckoned with...
Conservator Bethan Bryan with the Roman arm guard. Source: Duncan McGlynn / National Museums Scotland

“Absolutely Amazing” Roman Arm Guard Pieced Together After 1,800 Years

Over 100 years ago, a Scot unearthed over 100 fragments of metal which he thought comprised a Roman chest guard. Now, National Museums Scotland have reconstructed the artifact and discovered that it...
A computer-generated image of the battle that is thought to have taken place on a remote mountainside south of Chur around 15 BC between Roman troops advancing northwards through the Alps and local Suanetes. Source: Courtesy of Leona Detig

Lost Roman Battlefield in Switzerland Discovered Through Thousands of Artifacts

In 2019, a spectacular Roman dagger was metal detected in a remote region of the Swiss Alps. Now, a team of scientists and students have mapped a 2,000-year-old Roman battlefield representing the...
This group of figures depict an early Roman victory. Marcus Furius Camillus, sometimes called the second founder of Rome, is shown in his victory over Brennus, King of the Gauls. Source: Slices of Light/CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

More Than a Founder, Marcus Furius Camillus Was an Exemplar of Roman Virtue

While ancient Rome achieved many awe-inspiring feats, it is also remembered for its controversial citizens—especially its leaders—who embraced unrestrained decadence. Their conduct was so outlandish...
A sample of Poidebard’s (1934) aerial photographs: A) fort at Qreiye; B) Roman fort and medieval caravanserai at Birke; C) fort at Tell Zenbil; and D) castellum at Tell Brak.

Declassified Cold War Spy Satellite Images Reveal Roman Forts In Syria and Iraq

In their examination of aerial photographs from the 1960s and 70s, archaeologists have identified 396 uncharted Roman forts in the Syrian and Iraqi regions along the Syrian steppe, from “the world’s...
The Sertorian War saw Roman generals and forces clash with the rebel leader Sertorius in a prolonged struggle for control. Source: Hui / Adobe Stock

The Sertorian War: How Rebels Nearly Toppled Rome from Within

Even the greatest of empires and kingdoms can be weakened by internal strife and civil war. The formidable power of Rome was no exception. Throughout its history—from the Republic to the Empire days—...
Cllr Paul Hodgkinson, Cotswold District Council Cabinet Member for Leisure, Culture and Health and Emma Stuart, Corinium Museum Director. Proudly exhibiting the Roman swords recently found during a detectorist rally. Source: Cotswold district Council

Two Out of Place Roman Swords Dug Up By Cotswolds Detectorist

A treasure hunter participating in a metal detectorist rally in England’s Cotswolds District unearthed not one, but two ancient Roman swords. These two weapons are unlike most Roman swords discovered...
Archaeologists Oriya Amichay and Hagay Hamer removing one of the Roman swords from the crevice where they were hidden. Source: Amir Ganor/Israel Antiquities Authority

Four 1,900-Year-Old Roman Swords Found in Dead Sea Cave

Archaeologists working with the Israel Antiquities Authority (IAA) have uncovered a remarkable cache in the Judean Desert near the Dead Sea: four Roman swords in "almost perfect condition," believed...
Archaeologist found ruins of the lost city of Titiakos, dating back to more than 2000 years ago, in Deza, Soria in Spain. Source: (Perez, E.S. et all/ Archaeological & Anthropological Sciences)

The Lost City of Titiakos: Ruins of Celtiberian Stronghold From 2,000 Years Ago Discovered in Spain

In the midst of excavations in north-central Spain’s Soria province, archaeologists stumbled upon the remarkable discoveries of a Roman camp and the ruins of the 2,000-year-old ancient Celtiberian...
Queen Amanirenas, warrior queen AI representation. Source: Refineria AI/adobe Stock

The One-Eyed African Queen Who Defeated the Roman Empire: Amanirenas

Few are those who stood defiant to the powerful Roman Empire and opposed its incessant expansion. From the barbarian tribes of Central Europe to the warlike Britons and Gauls, and all the way to the...
A Roman legion. Source: mehaniq41 / Adobe Stock.

A Brief History of Roman Britain: A Land Transformed

For the Romans, ancient Britain was the final frontier. Situated at the edge of the known world at the time, it was a symbol for the ultimate expansion of the Roman Empire. Conquering it meant...
The Battle of Actium took place on the 2nd September 31 BC. Painting by Laureys a Castro in 1672. Source: Public domain

Was the Battle of Actium Lost for Cleopatra and Mark Antony Before It Even Started?

The Battle of Actium proved to be a catastrophic blow to the hopes and dreams of Cleopatra VII and Mark Antony. With unwavering confidence, the renowned duo had nurtured the belief that they were...
Roman legions at the last battle in the Second Punic War. 	Source: vukkostic/Adobe Stock

The Second Punic War – Hannibal’s Infamous Offensive

In the annals of ancient history, there emerges a clash of titans that shook the foundations of the Mediterranean world—the Second Punic War. It was an epochal struggle that pitted Rome, the rising...
An AI generated Roman Legion, representative of Legio X Fretensis. Source: Noel Cook/ Adobe Stock

Coins Dug Up in Georgia Expose Dirty Work of Legendary Legio X Fretensis

Archaeologists in Georgia have discovered a hoard of ancient coins, which had symbols punched into their faces long after they were created. When the researchers learned the nature of the symbols,...
Roman ship ramming a Carthaginian ship. Naval battles were key in the First Punic War. Source: Massimo Todaro/Adobe Stock

Rome vs. Carthage: The First Punic War and the Birth of a Superpower

The First Punic War was a brutal conflict that pitted two of the greatest powers of the ancient world against each other. With the might of Rome on one side and the naval supremacy of Carthage on the...
Proclaiming Claudius Emperor

The Praetorian Guards: To Serve and Protect the Roman Emperors… Most of the Time

The Praetorian Guard is said to be one of the most prestigious military units in the ancient world, and is arguably one of the most well-known today. These elite soldiers are best known for serving...
Dacian draco, symbol of Dacia, the warrior realm who attached the Romans. Source: Craitza / Adobe Stock.

The Wolves of Dacia Take On the Roman Empire

In ancient times, Dacia was the name given to the area of Central Europe bounded by the Carpathian Mountains . This area corresponds roughly to the modern countries of Romania and Moldovia...
Roman weapons were vital to protecting and conquering the ancient world.

Roman Weapons: Sharp Blades to Conquer the Ancient World

The Romans were arguably one of the most successful conquerors of the ancient world. At the height of their power, the Roman Empire stretched from the British Isles in the north to Egypt in the south...
The Huns approaching Rome, led by Attila the Hun, painted by Ulpiano Checa. Source: Public domain

Droughts, Not Gold, Drove Attila to Invade the Roman Empire

History has remembered Attila (c. 406 to 453) for having terrorized the Roman Empire with a campaign of violence as the ruler of a nomadic Central Asian and Eastern European people known as the Huns...
Legendary Battle of Monte Medulio.

Did the Legendary Battle of Monte Medulio Really Happen?

Monte Medulio is the name of a legendary battle which is believed to have happened in 22 BC between the Romans and the united army of Cantabrians, Asturians, and Galicians. It is said to be the most...
Classis Ravennas and the Defense of the Roman Empire

Classis Ravennas and the Defense of the Roman Empire

For almost 500 years, Classe was an important Roman seaport right up until the early Middle Ages. Protected by surrounding marshes, Classe was well placed for patrolling the Adriatic Sea , but the...
The Lycurgus Cup.

Romans Mastered Nanotechnology and Used it for Eye Catching Decoration

A strange chalice made its way into the British Museum’s collection in the 1950s. It is a 1,600-year-old jade green Roman artifact called the Lycurgus Cup. The image on the chalice is an iconic scene...
Catapulta by Edward Poynter

Were Catapults the Secret to Roman Military Success?

The Roman Empire conquered the known world in large part due to its army. The Roman Army was a formidable force of training and discipline led by military minds who established organizational and...
The Roman Army employed whistling stones as an effective terror weapon. Source: James Steidl / Adobe Stock.

Whistling Sling Stones: Psychological Warfare and the Roman Army

1800 years ago, Roman troops carried a very unusual kind of missile weapon for defeating their enemies. Those weapons were “whistling” sling bullets, and new research suggests these were employed as...

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