Soldiers and tribesmen : the Roman army and tribal society in late imperial Africa
This thesis is concerned with two groups which guarded North Africa's frontiers during the Later Roman Empire, firstly the regular army, and secondly, the gentiles, or tribesmen. The subject is introduced in Chapter I, and the academic debate on this subject summarised . In Chapter II, the continued existence of a garrison of regular soldiers, in the fourth century sector commands (limites), is demonstrated. The present consensus regarding the manning of the limites would assign a much larger role to some kind of tribal militia. The actual role of the Moorish and Libyan tribes in frontier defence is analysed in the next chapter. They are seen to be essentially an adjunct to the limitanei rather than a replacement for them. The long involvement of African tribesmen in the military service of Rome is traced in Chapter IV. The field army is examined in Chapter V. A pattern of steady growth is discerned, gradually supplanting the limitanei. In Chapters VI and VIr attention is focussed once more on the frontier troops. The location of the limites listed in the Notitia Dignitatum, and their internal organisation are analysed in Chapter VI. Chapter VIr studies the duties of the limitanei. The essentially policing nature of their work is stressed. Finally, two cases of extensive tribal integration are studied and some comments made on the relations between the imperial administration and the tribal aristocracy. In conclusion, it is noted that soldiers and tribesmen did not occupy two separate worlds, a Romanised Africa and an Afrique oubliee. On the contrary they were often one and the same, as soldiers were probably recruited from amongst tribesmen, and formed part of a single frontier society.