By Michael T. Burns
Digressus Supplement 1 (2003)
|Sub-rectangular scuta. Note the curved, semi-cylindrical shape and the metal boss fitted in the middle. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)|
It is not the purpose of this paper to make definitive statements regarding the development of military equipment during the Republic; the evidence available to us, both literary and archaeological, is insufficient for this purpose. Rather, what I hope to offer is a new perspective on a very neglected and misunderstood aspect of the Roman army, by examining why regional variations in Italic military equipment came to be replaced by a largely homogeneous panoply and method of fighting by the middle of the third century BC. The usual answer to this question is based almost entirely on the assumption that after the Romans defeated various Italic peoples, the latter subsequently adopted Roman arms and armour. Such a conception of the Romanisation of the Italic allies’ military equipment presumes that this is a one-way process. It ignores and glosses over a complex and fascinating period of military evolution, development, and interaction in Italy. The results of this process would later provide Rome with the foundations of a military system that few ancient powers could resist.