Age and the Roman soldier: the evidence of tombstones

Hope, Valerie M. (2007). Age and the Roman soldier: the evidence of tombstones. In: Harlow, Mary and Laurence, Ray eds. Age and Ageing in the Roman Empire. Journal of Roman Archaeology, Supplementary Series (65). Portsmouth, RI, USA: Journal of Roman Archaeology, pp. 111–129.


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This paper looks at how and why age at death was revealed for Roman soldiers. The majority of Latin epitaphs do not include an age at death for the deceased. When given, age statements characterise certain social groups, especially children. The recording of adult ages is more unusual, thus rendering the common inclusion of age at death for Roman soldiers particualarly striking. Why was age at death recorded for military men? What does this suggest about the life and death of soldiers and the military life course? This paper focusses in particular on military epitaphs from the North-West provinces of the Roman empire and undertakes a statistical analysis of age statements, evaluating the worth of the epitaphs for demography, social history and life course studies.

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