I watched a documentary on some headless Romans while I was having my tea (as you do), and it brought up a question I’d like to ask you guys.
It’s not about the main point of the story (though that is interesting too), it’s about their recreations of the Romans. Not having painted a Roman since I was a wee lad, I’d never really thought about how many different skin colours you’d find in a legion, century, or even a single contubernium. Now I actually come to think about it they should be a mix of all sorts of people from all over the Empire, and increasingly so as time wears on (and the recruiters get ever more desperate to fill the ranks). Now I know this harks back to the article I posted the other day, but I promise you this is just a coincidence.
Anyway, to my question.
Does anyone know of any published research on the ethnic origins of individual legionaries? Books, articles, whatever. I’m thinking about the origins of the men themselves rather than the nominal origins of the legions, which are unlikely to remain representative for long. Strontium isotope testing is unlikely to have been done on everyone in a cemetery, but there may be papyri or other stuff kicking about. Just wondering. I know of a few snippets from various places, but I really wanted a larger scale analysis.
And I know that I can paint things whatever I like. Happy to. I just like to know what the actual history is (if I can) before I ignore it 😉
Having just finished re-reading some of Graham Sumner’s excellent books about the Roman uniform colour debate it would be an other facet that would not only make the legion look rather less uniform. The more I read, the more that Victorian textbook ideal is looking unlikely.