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I’ve some questions about the Roman marching camp during the republican times, especially Punic Wars.

I read that the Romans were used to bring with them the wooden elements of the palisade for the vallum, but I can just find informations about the later camps: I don’t think that the sudes were used already two centuries B.C. Livy writes that Romans had shorter stakes than the Greek ones and they were placed close, but were they so close that there was no space between them? I’d really like to see a reconstruction image, but it’s just plenty of images of permanent imperial camps and it’s not what I’m looking for.


The other question is about the gates. I couldn’t imagine that there were big gates with hinges, since even if they managed to carry them during the march, how could they place them? it’s something complicated, I think, not very suitable for a marching camp just for one night or a little more. But if there were no gates with hinges, how they closed the entrances?


I hope someone will help me with my doubts!

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I've considered this a lot over the years. We know Roman infantry carried two sticks but this would not be enough for a camp palisade or sturdy enough, given they must be carried along with other gear, to fend off any attack. In fact the Romans merely say they carried sticks to help build the camp so we might actually be looking at measuring implements rather than defensive assets.

The camp was primarily defended by a ditch and rampart. No gate as such, but guards posted at the gaps used to access the site. This was a marching camp after all and not a permanent defensive work. If they did erect a fence around it, for practical reasons it could not have been much better than one you might use around your garden.

Note that the Roman sources do not discuss the defensive strength of camps. They do however discuss the behaviour of guards.

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This is a really great answer, thank you very much! I didn't think of how much they discuss the behaviour of guards, very interesting remark.

Even if I studied ancient history, there are some technical questions for which it's very difficult to have an explanation. I'm quite new on the site and it's great to find so many people here who have the same interests and be able to put together what we know. I hope to help in the future too.

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