Warfare and Food-Supply in the Late Roman Empire Ghent, 21 April 2017

Location: KANTL, Koninklijke Academie voor Nederlandse Taal en Letterkunde

Organised by Jeroen Wijnendaele () and Wouter Vanacker ()

In 1998, Paul Erdkamp published his pioneering study Hunger and the Sword on the significance of logistics, landscapes and the feeding of the Roman Republic's armies during wartime. The same period also saw a surge in renewed interest on the Late Roman army, including such studies as Hugh Elton's Warfare in Roman Europe, AD 350-425 and Martijn Nicassie's Twilight of Empire. While studies on various aspects pertaining to the Roman army in both era's have been prolific over the past two decades, there is still a noticeable lacuna. In Framing the Early Middle Ages, Chris Wickham already remarked that "surprisingly, not much work has been done on the supply aspect of the Late Roman military logistics."

The empire-wide organization of the annona militaris was arguably the single most important economic activity affecting the Mediterranean world and its European hinterlands. Successful supply to the army could make the difference in its performance during war in all its guises, from raids, to sieges and pitched battles. Yet these very same logistics also formed a double-edged sword that could be turned against the Empire in times of adversity. Local communities, urban governments and civilian elites could be equally affected by these ramifications.

This workshop will bring together an international team of scholars focusing on both the general concept of the Late Roman military food-supply and other crucially related issues to help advance our knowledge on this long-neglected theme.

9-9:30: Welcome and Coffee

  • 9:30-10:30. Paul Erdkamp (Vrije Universiteit Brussel): War, Food Supply, and the Economic Decline of the Roman West
  • 10:30-11:30. Philip Rance (Freie Universität Berlin): The Farmer and the Soldier should be Friends – Justinian's Legislation on the Provisioning of Soldiers in transit
  • 11:30-12:30. Alexander Sarantis (Aberystwyth University): The quaestura exercitus and 'centralised' military provisioning in the Balkans: an archaeological and socio-economic perspective

12:30-13:30 Lunch

  • 13:30-14:30. Jeroen Wijnendaele (Ghent University): Food as a Weapon? The African Grain-supply during Late Roman Civil War
  • 14:30-15:30. Mark Humphries (Swansea University): Valentinian, Vandals, and Victuals: responses to crisis in the mid-fifth century west

15:30-16:00 Coffee

  • 16:00-17:00. Doug Lee (University of Nottingham): Food Supply and Military Mutiny in Late Antiquity

Those who are interested to attend are kindly advised to contact the organizers.