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Recent research on the Cantabrian Wars: the archaeological reconstruction of a mountain war

  • Eduardo José Peralta Labrador (a1), Jorge Camino Mayor (a2) and Jesús Francisco Torres-Martínez (a3)

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Over the centuries, Spanish historiography has attached great importance to the wars that Octavian launched at the start of the last third of the 1st c. B.C. against the population in the north of the Iberian peninsula. In this way he intended to bring an end to the long conquest of Iberia that had begun two centuries earlier in the hegemonic struggle with Carthage. Although the wars previously attracted the attention of European scholars, today they play little part in the historiography of the Early Roman Empire and even less in the biographies of Augustus, who suffered some of his worst military fortunes in this war, putting his very life in danger (Suet., Aug. 29.3 and 81.1; Hor., Carm. 3.14; Dio 53.25.5-7; Oros. 6.21.4). Even Departments of Ancient History in Spanish universities have failed to progress beyond well-worn exegesis of the written sources. This is because until just two decades ago all the information came from two historical sources: Florus and Orosius, on the one hand, and Dio Cassius, on the other (the relevant books of Livy being lost). Although they stress the importance of the conflict, these sources are excessively laconic; they have also been subjected to erudite speculations about place-names that have turned the military campaigns into a series of historiographic fictions.1

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Recent research on the Cantabrian Wars: the archaeological reconstruction of a mountain war

  • Eduardo José Peralta Labrador (a1), Jorge Camino Mayor (a2) and Jesús Francisco Torres-Martínez (a3)

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