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Title: The fleets on the northern frontier of the Roman empire from the 1st to 3rd century
Author: Rummel, Christopher
Awarding Body: University of Nottingham
Current Institution: University of Nottingham
Date of Award: 2008
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Ancient sources consistently identify a strong naval element to Roman military activity along the northern frontier from the earliest occupation campaigns to Late Antiquity. This element is formed by four established provincial fleets, the CLASSES BRITANNICA, GERMANICA, PANNONICA and MOESICA. The current understanding of these units, however, is disproportionate to their importance and some current interpretations are in urgent need of revision in view of new archaeological and epigraphic data relevant to the fleets. This study identifies and analyses the main theories and problems in the study of naval activity on the northern frontier on the basis of concrete archaeological and epigraphic evidence. In order to establish a reliable foundation for further research, every site on the northern frontier identified as a fleet base in current research is studied in detail to identify fleet related evidence. These surveys, one for each of the provincial fleets based on the northern frontier, constitute the four main chapters of the thesis. The evidence for each fleet is summarised independently at the end of each chapter to revise current understanding of the respective fleet. The concluding chapter draws on all four of these summaries and reassesses the current understanding of naval power on the northern frontier of the Roman Empire from the 1st-3rd century, highlighting several misconceptions that exist in current scholarship. As such, the study illustrates that there is substantially less evidence for the provincial fleets than is currently being assumed, while the evidence at hand is not being utilized to its full potential. It is shown that literary evidence for naval activity must be treated with far greater care than hitherto anticipated and that a number of difficulties in our understanding of Roman naval activity on the northern frontier are caused by a serious misinterpretation of the term classis. Although the “regular” fleets were evidently far smaller than currently believed and had a far more limited range of operations than assumed, the naval element in Roman military activity on the northern frontier was far more substantial than these four established classes: there is clear evidence not only for the use of ad hoc fleets, created and often requisitioned for specific military campaigns, but also that naval arms were maintained by both legions and auxiliary units. These detachments played a significant role in the control and safeguarding of the Empire’s northern frontier – probably more so than the established fleets, the CLASSES BRITANNICA, GERMANICA, PANNONICA and MOESICA.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: DG Italy