1st Workshop of Young Researchers in Military History in Antiquity, Barcelona (Spain)
The 1st Workshop of Young Researchers in Military History in Antiquity took place on the 26th of October 2018 at the Autonomous University of Barcelona (Spain). This first encounter was consecrated to “The fear and psychological and physical traumas caused by war in Antiquity”.
This project emerged from the necessity of a space for exchange and reflection between historians, archaeologists and art historians specialized in “New Military History”, and it was targeted at young researchers. In addition, the first topic proposed for this first edition arose from the need to focus research on how both soldiers and civilians (including children) perceived and experienced war in ancient times. It is worth mentioning that the need for such research and its originality, as well as the international nature of the participants (Spain, France, Italy and Quebec) turned this first edition into an international workshop.
War is a condemnable activity that touched, and touches, everybody who had, and has to experience a hostile situation. This subject makes different approaches possible, as it can focus on the point of view of elites, soldiers or civilians, and for the latter, on that of women and children. Furthermore, this perspective contributes to “gender studies”, a field of research that cannot be neglected since its object of study concerns more than a half part of the population, and, therefore, is essential to achieving an approach that is truer to the reality of the time and a non-androcentric perception of History. This led to a programme that was extremely varied and that represented different periods and cultures.
The Ancient Near Eastern perspective was presented by Patricia Bou Pérez (Ph.D. candidate at Université Lyon 2, Archéorient – Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona). Her presentation, entitled parṣam ša mutim šipirti zikari: De la glorificación literaria al miedo a la guerra en el período amorreo (ca. 2002 – 1595 a.n.e.), was aimed to analyse the perception of war based on texts, mainly correspondence and literature, to dissociate the experience of soldiers in war and the image of conflict transmitted by literature, such as The Epic of Zimrī-Lîm.
Presentations of the Greek chrono-cultural area began with a talk by Julia Guantes García (Ph.D. candidate at Universidad de Oviedo) entitled Niños y niñas en la Guerra del Peloponeso: violencia y vulnerabilidad. She focused on the treatment of children during the Peloponnesian war (431-404 BCE) through the unfinished work of Thucydides History of the Peloponnesian War, and the works of Herodotus, Xenophon, Euripides and Aristophanes.
In the following talk entitled Tras los pasos de Menandro: Los traumas durante la conquista y la formación de los estados helenísticos, Adrià Muñoz de la Luz (Ph.D. candidate at Universidad de Salamanca – Université d’Avignon) discussed the psychological traumas caused by war during the creation of Hellenistic kingdoms in the 4th century BCE, using the texts of Menander, such as Aspis.
Research on Alexandri proelium cum Dario. L’umano terrone e il sovrumano impeto nell’immortale scontro dell’Antichità was presented by Eleonora Voltan (Ph.D. candidate at Universidad de Málaga – Università degli Studi di Padova). She gave an art-historical perspective of the subject, approaching the representation of fear in the characters featured on the “Alexander mosaic”, found in ancient Pompeii, which depicts the battle of Issus (333 BCE). Her analysis was especially focused on Darius III and his army.
Simon Cahanier (Ph.D. candidate at Université Lyon 3, HiSoMA) gave the first talk on the Roman era, which was the most represented period in this workshop. His presentation entitled Sous le regard de Fides : le mythe du suicide des Sagontins ou l’invention d’un traumatisme concerned the myth of the mass suicide of the Saguntians. Sagunto was an Iberian settlement allied with Rome, which was besieged by Hannibal. This episode marked the beginning of the Second Punic War (218-201 BCE). Nevertheless, some years or even centuries later, Rome created a myth on the mass suicide of the Saguntians during the siege of Hannibal to justify the declaration of war on Carthage.
Juan Pablo Prieto (Ph.D. candidate at Université Bordeaux Montagne, Institut Ausonius) presented De la incompresión military a la desconfianza política: la “estrategia” romana oriental y las Guerras macedónicas (214-148 a.C.), in which he aimed to analyse how the military encounters between Romans and Macedonians, such as the battle of the Aous (198 BCE), influenced the geopolitical construction of the oriental borders of Rome, apparently based on mistrust and division.
Similarly, Pierre-Luc Brisson (Ph.D. candidate at Université du Québec à Montréal) talked about how fear influenced the elaboration of the foreign policy of Rome during the 2nd century BCE, in his presentation entitled Peur et “dilemme de sécurité” dans le système international hellénistique : Le cas de la politique extérieure de Rome, 188-146 A.C.
Concerning the Roman army, Rubén Escorihuela Martínez (Ph.D. candidate at Universidad de Zaragoza), presented his study entitled Miedo y sugestión en el ejército romano republicano: La insurrección como reacción. His aim was to elucidate how war influenced the Roman republican soldiers during their lives: how and how much war impacted their behaviours, what kind of traumas they endured, etc.
Borja Méndez Santiago (Ph.D. candidate at Universidad de Oviedo) provided a more literary approach in his presentation entitled Reaccionando al miedo en las Vidas de Plutarco. Una selección de testimonios. He spoke about the handling of fear of different characters featured in the Parallel Lives of Plutarch. He talked not only about soldiers, but also about women, children and elders, and about “the mass panic” of cities such as Sparta and Xanthos.
Final talk entitled Viol et sanctions dans l’armée romaine: l’exemple de Sertorius chez Appien? was presented by Juliana Gendron (Ph.D. candidate at Université Paul-Valéry-Montpellier3, LabEX Archimède). She approached the topic of rape and sanctions in the Roman army through the example of the Roman general Sertorius, as described in the works of Appian. This author evokes an episode contextualised within the Sertorian War (80-72 BCE) where Sertorius sentenced to death an entire legionary cohort because one of his soldiers tried to rape a woman after the conquest of Lauron (76 BCE).
This 1st Workshop started with an introduction by Dr. Antela Bernárdez, member of the Ancient History Department of the Autonomous University of Barcelona. The emphasis of his introductory speech was on the importance of new generations of young researchers continuing to work in the domain of controversial and occasionally frowned upon research fields such as Military History.
Following the presentations, a debate on the topics discussed ensued between the participants. This created a great dynamic and interactive atmosphere that promoted interesting thoughts and ideas and enriched this workshop. The debate which acted as a general conclusion to the variety of subjects presented was so rich and dynamic that it continued unofficially once the workshop was over.
In conclusion, we would like to highlight the importance of creating discussion spaces in order to exchange different viewpoints, opinions and hypotheses, and to generate links between young researchers.
Patricia Bou Pérez (Ph.D. candidate in Assyriology at the Université Lumière Lyon 2, Archéorient and Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona).
Javier Montilla Moreno (Master in Roman History and Archaeology at Univeristé Lumière Lyon 2).
Adrià Muñoz de la Luz (Ph.D. candidate in Hellenistic History at Universidad de Salamanca – Université d’Avignon).