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BRITISH MUSEUM'S HADRIAN EXHIBITION: EMPIRE REPEATS ITSELF

Exhibition Highlights and Historical Background Notes
Courtesy of British Museum
26 October 2008

Writing-tablet with an intelligence report

This tablet describing the fighting habits of the Britons was probably a memorandum, perhaps left by a commanding officer for his successor. Despite the disparaging reference to Brittunculi ('Little Brits'), it may be that the document was an assessment of their potential for recruitment into the local military units.


Writing-tablet with an intelligence report
Roman Britain, late 1st or early 2nd century AD
Vindolanda Roman fort (modern Chesterholm), Northumberland

Trustees of the British Museum

Translation:

'... the Britons are unprotected by armour (?). There are very many cavalry. The cavalry do not use swords nor do the wretched Britons mount in order to throw javelins.'

Culturekiosque readers should note that the above images are from the excellent and lavishly illustrated book Hadrian: Empire & Conflict that accompanies the current exhibition. It is the work of Thorsten Opper, curator in the Department of Greek and Roman Antiquities at the British Museum. Highly recommended and astonishing value for money.

Hadrian: Empire & Conflict
By Thorsten Opper

Hardcover: 224 pages
Harvard University Press (September 2008)
ISBN-10: 0674030958
ISBN-13: 978-0674030954
$29.95



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