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Full Access Roman Infantry Helmets and Commemoration among Soldiers

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Roman Infantry Helmets and Commemoration among Soldiers

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It has long been recognized that perceptions of individual posthumous memory and the commemorative devices harnessed to maintain it differ greatly through time. In pre-Christian Rome, the belief that an individual enjoyed an afterlife through the perpetuation of their memory before and after death was central to Roman social identity and encompassed not only the act of reproducing or recalling anindividual or an event, but reflected an individual’s character and virtues. Recent studies demonstrate that the material correlates of commemorative behavior pervaded the Roman visual landscape. Although the majority of evidence bespeaking commemoration represents the elite, the importance of memory was widely recognized. It would, therefore, be difficult to assume that only the upper classes engaged in such rituals. Roman soldiers, as individuals in a profession that took them far from their native land, also practicedsuch behavior. Without the means to engage in traditional commemorative practices, Roman legionaries devised unique methods to fulfill their commemorative needs. This investigation argues that the personalization of infantry helmets did more than denote personal property. It also became a tool created by soldiers to safeguard their memory. As objects that pervaded the visual landscape of the military realm, legionary helmets became an ideal medium for commemorative behavior.

Affiliations: 1: Boston University, Department of Archaeology, 675 Commonwealth Ave., Suite 247 Boston, MA 02215, brando@bu.edu; www.theclassicalarchaeologist.com

10.1163/22134603-00101001
/content/journals/10.1163/22134603-00101001
dcterms_title,pub_keyword,dcterms_description,pub_author
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It has long been recognized that perceptions of individual posthumous memory and the commemorative devices harnessed to maintain it differ greatly through time. In pre-Christian Rome, the belief that an individual enjoyed an afterlife through the perpetuation of their memory before and after death was central to Roman social identity and encompassed not only the act of reproducing or recalling anindividual or an event, but reflected an individual’s character and virtues. Recent studies demonstrate that the material correlates of commemorative behavior pervaded the Roman visual landscape. Although the majority of evidence bespeaking commemoration represents the elite, the importance of memory was widely recognized. It would, therefore, be difficult to assume that only the upper classes engaged in such rituals. Roman soldiers, as individuals in a profession that took them far from their native land, also practicedsuch behavior. Without the means to engage in traditional commemorative practices, Roman legionaries devised unique methods to fulfill their commemorative needs. This investigation argues that the personalization of infantry helmets did more than denote personal property. It also became a tool created by soldiers to safeguard their memory. As objects that pervaded the visual landscape of the military realm, legionary helmets became an ideal medium for commemorative behavior.

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/content/journals/10.1163/22134603-00101001
2013-01-01
2016-12-06

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