Book Review: Feeding the Roman Army: The Archaeology of Production and Supply in NW Europe


by Sue Stallibrass and Richard Thomas, editors

Oxford: Oxbow Books/Oakville, Ct.: David Brown Books, 2008. Pp. v, 169. Illus, maps, diagr., notes, biblio. $60.00 paper. ISBN: 978-1-84217-323-7

In ten essays, several noted specialists in Roman studies address the question of how the Romans fed their army during the heyday of the Empire. 

Focused on north-western Europe, the work nevertheless draws upon evidence ? literary, documentary, archeological ? from other parts of the Roman world.  Zoological and botanical evidence is considered in great detail, and the reader will find ample material on the varieties of animal and vegetable foods provided for the troops, how local environment affected the military diet (e.g., pork was of only minor importance in the meat ration in some areas, while in others it ranged up to 60 percent), the problem of supplying wine and oil to distant garrisons.  Several essays note how patterns of consumption changed, as local production began to replace importation, how lifestyles on the frontiers evolved over the centuries as Romanization advanced, and then Roman influence began to wane. 

A highly technical work, and not the easiest read, Feeding the Roman Army will be of value students of the Roman military or those interested in logistics.

Reviewer: A. A. Nofi   

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