Examining ‘Special’ Recruitment Practices
Both ancient writers and epigraphic sources indicate that Batavian units continued to recruit Batavians well into the second century AD, but the degree to which other units might have retained special, ethnically-based recruiting practices is much debated today. Syrian units have been regarded as a special case since the early twentieth century, while evidence for both British and Thracian units has been used to claim that they too followed special recruitment patterns for at least some of their history. This chapter assesses these claims with particular attention to Syrian units. It argues that, contrary to what has been suggested by other scholars, with the exception of the Batavians, the evidence does not support the existence of special recruiting practices sustaining ethnically distinctive enclaves of soldiers. This finding has important implications for the understanding of the Empire’s relations with different ethnic groups.
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