Skip to comments.So what have the Romans ever done for us? Ireland's links with the Roman empire are being investi...
Posted on 06/20/2012 6:42:38 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
Roman artifacts including coins, glass beads and brooches turn up in many Irish counties, especially in the east.
Cahill Wilson investigated human remains... using strontium and isotope analysis and carbon dating.
Remarkably, this allowed her say where they most likely spent their childhood. One burial site on a low ridge overlooking the sea in Bettystown, Co Meath, was dated to the 5th/6th century AD using radiocarbon dating. Most of the people were newcomers to the area, Cahill Wilson concluded.
The clue was in their teeth. Enamel, one of the toughest substances in our body, completely mineralises around the age of 12 and its composition remains unaltered to the grave and beyond. It is "a snapshot of where you lived up to the age of 12", Wilson explains.
The element strontium (Sr), which is in everything we eat and drink, exists in a number of chemical forms, or isotopes. The ratio of two of these isotopes (87Sr and 86Sr) varies, shifting with the underlying geology, and this too can indicate where the owner of the tooth grew up.
Similarly, the ratio of oxygen isotopes varies with factors such as latitude, topography and hydrological conditions.
"Enough comparative data is available now that we can start to plot and map the ratios to see where people are likely to be from," Cahill Wilson explains. Paired analysis of strontium and oxygen in tooth enamel from a burial in Bettystown revealed that one interred individual grew up in North Africa...
Roman material has been found at Tara and Newgrange, and Roman pottery has been dredged from the River Boyne. A large coastal promontory fort in north Dublin also turned up Roman objects, and Kilkenny hosts a Roman burial site.
(Excerpt) Read more at irishtimes.com ...
Well, there is running water and the road system...but nothing else. ;-)
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The Romans liked redheads?
Yes, the Romans did invade Ireland -- And we don't need Roman forts as evidenceTacitus tells us that Agricola, while pondering the invasion of Ireland, had with him an Irish chieftain for use in just such an exercise. At about the same time, Juvenal specifically tells us, Roman 'arms had been taken beyond the shores of Ireland'. The myth of Tuathal connects him to a number of Irish places, some of which have been excavated and have produced Roman material of the late 1st or early 2nd centuries AD. Indeed, the sparse inland distribution of early Roman material matches Tuathal's 'mythical' campaign remarkably well.
by Richard Warner
We may interpret Tuathal as an exiled warrior/adventurer seizing and keeping power with the aid of Roman arms, who was followed by a number of other exiles with similar support over the next couple of centuries. We can say this because the sites that produce early Roman objects also produce later Roman material. In particular Tara, the midland ritual complex, and Clogher, a northern hillfort, have produced early and late Roman material, but no native objects. Both became capitals of the new ascendancies whose ancient origin-tales derived them, with their armies, from Britain. Cashel, the southern capital of just such a group, has not only produced a stray late Roman brooch, but was named from the Latin castellum.
It is not acceptable to dismiss this concatenation of evidence simply on the grounds that neither a Roman stone fortress nor straight road have been found. Nor may we easily dismiss the extraordinary fact that the material and, to a great extent, social culture of the upper class Irish from the 6th century on owes far more to Roman than to native Irish precursors. To give just two examples among many: the favoured Irish cloak-fastener from the 4th-11th century, the penannular brooch, evolved from a Romano-British brooch; and the early medieval Irish sword was, both in form and in name, a borrowing from that of the Roman army.
You mean, Apart from better sanitation and medicine and education and irrigation and public health and roads and a freshwater system and baths and public order... what have the Romans done for us?
Delivered by Heywood Banks:
by Vittorio Di Martino
For the Celts they succeeded in conquering (not the Irish/Scots or the Picts) with hundreds of thousands slaughtered and literally millions enslaved, the price of that progress was very high. Were they alive today one could ask Vercingetorix and Boudica what they thought of Roman civilization.
All right, but apart from the sanitation, medicine, education, wine, public order, irrigation, roads, the fresh water system and public health, what have the Romans ever done for us?
Roman Meal Bread.
What the heck is roman meal bread?
OBTW, good luck with my teeth - I can’t remember how many countries I lived in before I was 12.
My wife says I have Roman hands.... :)
Gladius is on the wrong [left]side, unless he’s supposed to be a Centurion, and the helmet [leather?] says ‘NO’. No Lorica segmenta or chain mail. the spear’s wrong. Couldn’t they at least have used one of those British re-enactors. their gear is spot on.
Thanks for this thread.
“FIRST CENTURY AD. The Roman General Agricola reportedly says he can take and hold Ireland with a single legion.”
I’m not Irish, but I DON’T THINK SO. It took the Brits nearly 700 years to conquer the Irish. They are great brave fighters and aren’t beat easily.
Thank God we had a lot of them on OUR side in the Revolution, Civil War, WW1 and WW2!!!!
The Romans incorporated the Celts into their political and military system.
Even the much maligned Julius Caesar recruited an entire legion, the Legio V Alaudae “The Larks”, entirely from the Gauls. The Romans were conquerors - they beat up people who opposed them and welcomed and incorporated those who did not or who were conquered and survived. It was part of the strength of the Empire - making the conquered into Romans and then incorpating them to spread the Empire. This is very unlike the Assyrians, Babylonians, Persians, Greeks, etc. who never really made any attempt to assimilate conquered people into their political, economic, social and military systems and share power with them.
Like the Ermine Street Guards.
... and Russian fingers?
On a more serious note, I think the importance of the spread of the universal church of Catholicism and the universal lingua franca, Latin, is not given enough attention.
Setting aside the potential civilizing effects of Christianity as a religion, the effects of a written language which could be used in every corner of the Roman world for trade and education cannot be dismissed lightly.
Most of the remarkable public works and infrastructure fell into disuse or went unrepaired, but the language and religion survived.
But if by "Bahh!" you mean that the process of having one's culture, religion, language and ages old social order crushed under a Roman boot heel was a welcome or enjoyable experience, then we do have a disagreement. The fruits were roads, cities, running water, a unified and generally just code of laws, and ultimately Europe and to a certain extent America as we know them. I'm just stating that all of those benefits were paid for beforehand in the blood and enslavement of millions.
Oh, and the Greeks and Persians most certainly accommodated their conquered people while allowing them to retain their own cultural and religious identities. In the former case their cultures became "Hellenized", as in Ptolemaic Egypt and Judea at the time of Christ. And the Persians were a multi-cultural empire a few thousand years before the phrase was invented. The Romans tended more to stomp their conquests into proper shape before allowing them full entry and "citizenship" in the Empire. And they had a particular ax to grind with the Gauls or any other sort of Celts (sack of Rome - 390 BC) who dared to stand up to them. The Assyrians and Babylonians were a different and more brutal sort again.
For instance, the Ptolemys never even bothered to learn the language of their subject people. Cleopatra was the fist and last Ptolemy to ever do so. And the Ptolemys were so concerned about keeping power within the ruling family that they practised incest. There was a clear distinction with respect to political power between the subjects of the Persians and Greeks and the ruling race.
The Romans, on the other hand, did more than just accommodate local customs. They also assimilated subject people and shared political power with them once they had been Romanized. There were emperors drawn from nearly every population within the Empire. The Romans were also quick to adopt and improve techniques and practices of subject people which appealed to them. Their helmets and shields were patterned after that of the Celts. Their swords came from designs used by Spanish tribes. Celtic Gods and Goddesses were worshiped in Roman Temples along with Olympian Deities. Etruscan agrees and religious ceremonies were a part of Roman State Religion. The Roman Upper Classes learned Greek and studied classical Greek authors.
And I really doubt that “millions” of Gauls were killed by Caesar.
As for the Romans and their attitude towards the Celts, it was hardly any different than their attitude toward any political power which opposed them. Just as they were quick to assimilate subject peoples and their customs and pantheons, they believed in total war and unconditional surrender. Qualities the west would be wise to emulate today.
“The Romans tended more to stomp their conquests into proper shape before allowing them full entry and “citizenship” in the Empire.”
But the point is, they DID so and they allowed FULL citizen participation to subject people once they stopped resisting them.
The Romans weren't saints by any means. But when compared with societies that preceded them, were contemporaneous with them, and more than a few which came after them, they fair pretty well in comparison.
Patton's response is a quote from Monty Python's Life of Bryan (1970). What have the Romans ever done for us.
Your points are all well taken and it's these kinds of debates over the large and the finer points that make history (for some of us) enjoyable. But the article and initial comments which started all this tended, I thought, to overlook how utterly brutal Imperial Rome, as a civilization, really was. Brilliant as well? No doubt. If not for Rome the entire history of humanity on this planet over the past two thousand years would have been quite different.
I knew that. It is my favorite comedy of all time.
The one thing the Romans did in every country where they roamed was build baths, both public and private in homes of the wealthy.
The Romans had a great civilization, but I lit a couple of their candles for dinner one time and durn near blowed the house up. Their orgies were good too.
All right, I’ll grant you that. But aside from peace and sanitation and....
Sorry. I wasn't certain.
It ranks up there as one of my favorite comedies (along with Dr. Strangelove Or How I Learned To Quit Worrying And Love The Bomb). So many scenes, such as "Romans Go Home," are priceless - and "Always Look on the Bright Side of Life" matches "The Universe Song" as Eric Idle's best composition, IMHO.
“Always Look on the Bright Side of Life” matches “The Universe Song” as Eric Idle’s best composition, IMHO.
Thanks for the grin.
Mea culpa - I have been on the road for days. Sorry to ignore everyone.
The Assyrians, yes, but the Persians incorporated all subjects into their armies. Herodotus describes the composition of the Persian invading force in great detail, information he got from the Persians themselves. The Asian Greeks served the Persians, and worked as mercenaries for Egyptian pharaohs. The Babylonians relied on their Scythian and Median allies to sack Nineveh and smash the Assyrian empire.
Often the same thing is said about Highland Scotland, which was spared Roman conquest because Agricola wasn’t allowed to finish things up — that’s imperial politics for ya. Agricola knew what he was talking about.
Roman involvement with clients and allies in Irish fits their pattern elsewhere. Roman penetration of the German frontier was in the form of creeping Romanization. Tribes just along the border were brought into alliance through largesse; former auxiliaries recruited from over the border resettled after their service, and thus Roman towns grew up over the border, deeper and deeper in areas not strictly in the Empire. In the Near East, client states were maintained as buffers between Rome and Parthia, until the buffer states became more trouble than they were worth — then they got conquered outright.
Vercingetorix lived out his days near Rome, on a pension, basically under house arrest. Boudica was the Celtic leader who mass murdered thousands, so her complaints would be hollow.
But the Persians never actually incorporated non-Persians into the actual Persian army proper. The army which Darius led into Greece was actually an assemblage of different military forces recruited from various subject people who fought in their own weapons and style. The Romans did this also with Auxiliary forces. But, as in the case of the Alaudae, one of the earliest examples, they recruited into the Roman Army proper individuals of non-Roman blood and armed and trained them as Roman soldiers proper.
The Romans did so with non-Roman and non-Italic people to an increasing extent with time so that the Roman Army proper towards the end of the Empire was nearly entirely composed of people recruited from outside the Italian Peninsula.
Even the auxiliaries were officered by Roman soldiers, learned Latin, and when discharged received full Roman citizenship. An inclusiveness absent in other Ancient Empires.
I believe the Romans practiced a form of incorporation and assimilation of subject peoples into their power structure to a far greater extent than any political entity before them and any of the political entities which existed after them for some time.
And that, I believe, is one of the reasons for the strength and stability of the Empire.
Great summary! Even though the Roman Empire underwent tremendous political turmoil leading to various regime changes, including having no central gov’t for much of the 3rd c AD, the stability of the Roman legions kept the local governance and commerce on track. Not bad for an empire with no public education system, no general literacy, no banking system, no postal system, a remarkable variety of ethnic, cultural, and linguistic groups...