UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Theoretical approaches to Roman camp and fort design : an examination of the frontiers in Britain and North Africa under Hadrian Steinhoff, John Paul


This thesis reviews the research and theoretical models of Alan Richardson on Roman camps and forts in Britain and applies the models to Roman forts located in North Africa. Richardson developed his models from ancient textual sources, a thorough examination of Roman camps and forts throughout Britain, and intuitive mathematical reasoning. For this paper, the most important model produced by Richardson during his study was a model which utilizes the perimeter dimensions of a fort to predict the type of military unit that the fort was designed to house, as each Roman military unit had varying space requirements. This is significant to the study of the Roman military in North Africa because often little archaeological evidence from Roman forts remains other than perimeter dimensions. This is a powerful tool to examine and enhance our understanding of the epigraphic evidence available, as this model has been extremely accurate predicting the type of military unit when compared to inscriptional evidence. The successful application of Richardson’s models in two separate frontier regions suggests that this was indeed how the Roman military went about constructing camps and forts throughout the empire during the 2nd century AD. Furthermore, the fort model is used to explore troop distribution in the frontier regions of Britain and Numidia during the reign of Hadrian. The results suggest that these two areas associated with linear barriers, Hadrian’s Wall in Britain and the African Fossatum in Numidia, were manned by a similar number of troops and were managed as their own distinct military entity.

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