Journal of Archaeology in the Low Countries 4-2 (April 2013)Laura I. Kooistra; Marieke van Dinter; Monica K. Dütting; Pauline van Rijn; Chiara Cavallo: Could the local population of the Lower Rhine delta supply the Roman army? Part 1: The archaeological and historical framework

5. Did the local population supply the Roman army?

The dynamic and varied landscape of the limes zone has undoubtedly influenced the way it was used. Analysis of wood data has demonstrated that wood for the construction of the forts, but also for later building activities, was acquired from the woodland in the limes zone. Most of the wood used in the construction of the forts around A.D. 40 came from the woodland on the levees and alluvial ridges. From the second half of the first century onward, most of the wood came from wetland woodland in the flood basins and the fen woodlands, where from the late first century production woodland was probably located. The bioarchaeological research has provided indications for the surplus production of cereals and the breeding of livestock. The fields for cereals would have been located on the levees of the Rhine, older alluvial ridges and dune ridges. Although the potential area for arable fields is limited, the requirements for wood and cereals do not appear to have been in conflict, because different parts of the landscape were used to obtain these products. Several landscape units could have been used for livestock. The required space for animal husbandry could therefore have conflicted with that for arable farming and forestry, but it is precisely because livestock was not tied to particular types of landscape that the animals could have been grazed in places where the other two space-consuming commodities did not grow, such as in the flood basins and the salt marshes. This would certainly not have been a second best option. Due to the regular flooding, the production of vegetation in the flood basins - the food for livestock - was higher than average.

An analysis of the many archaeological and bioarchaeological data has provided an impression of the layout of the landscape in the Rhine delta and landscape use by the military and rural population. The extensive research has provided information on the wood use by the Roman army and the food consumed by the soldiers and their associates. Most of the timber for military constructions came from local woodland, while part of the food was undoubtedly imported, as indicated by the written sources as well as the bioarchaeological research. There are also (bio)archaeological data and several written sources that indicate local food production for the army. It is unclear how important this local food production was. The next contribution will discuss this topic, on the basis of a theoretical calculation model.