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Soldiers and Documents: Insights from Nubia. The Significance of Written Documents in Roman Soldiers’ Everyday Lives

From the book Literacy in Ancient Everyday Life

Michael A. Speidel


The Roman army as an institution and the Roman soldier as an individual could not have functioned without the written word. A few newly published finds from Primis / Qasr Ibrim in Lower Nubia as well as a number of other documents discussed in this paper illustrate the extent to which administrative paperwork and the soldiers’ (semi-)private correspondence contributed to the army’s functioning and governed the soldiers’ everyday lives already in the first decades of the new imperial army. Other evidence shows how the formal and symbolic qualities of imperial and official texts, and administrative documents served Roman soldiers from all types of units in their private documents and monuments as a means to demonstrate military identity

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