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Social sciences: history

Grade 5

The ancient roman civilization: 5oo b.c. to 500 a.d.

Module 16

The roman army

The power of the Roman Empire lay in its military power. Their main aim was to protect the Empire and to maintain peace. In the beginning there was only a farm system. There were not enough soldiers, so they implemented a permanent force.

By 200 B.C. there were only four legions (6 000 men each) as opposed to 28 by 50 A.D. The defence force was like a well oiled machine. Soldiers had to supply their own weapons (swords, spears, shields). Weekly they were instructed in the art of fighting together, handling weapons, drilling, etc. for each soldier to know precisely what his duty was in the legion. Their success also lay in the fact that the commander could move around his units to where they were needed most. If a particular unit acted in a cowardly fashion, every tenth man in this unit was killed to serve as an example to the rest.


To observe the cause and effect, as well as the formations of the roman army

[lo 2.2]

First of all we are going to get to know more about the daily activities of the soldiers.

  1. Nominate each section of the soldier's outfit. Only use the letters.
Helmet …………..
Body shield of leather, iron plates
Iron sword with bone grip
Spear with iron tip and wooden shaft
Shield of wood covered with leather
Belt/apron of metal
Leather sandals with iron studs

Now discuss in your groups the reasons for the specific design of each part of the outfit!

b) The legions could move about and attack in different formations. Explain, by means of sketches, how you would attack the following:

  • a strong fort;
  • a herd of stampeding elephants!


Explain to your friend why the Roman army became famous for its method of besieging a hostile city.

d) Choose your own soldiers!

The following game to recognize causes and results will test your ability to its limits.

Emperor Claudius decides to attack a hostile British tribe, the Britons. Unfortunately he has little money available, because they are busy building ships for the Empire, and they also have to pay thousands of soldiers. The abacus shows how much money you can spend (represented by the five beads.)

First study the secret information that is provided below very carefully and help the emperor to calculate a suitable combination. Colour in the row of beads of your choice. The cost is indicated on each item e.g. LL.


e) Resulting from the brainstorming session, write a short letter to the emperor and motivate the choice you have made. Also briefly refer to the tactics you would use to defeat the Britons. You may include sketches.

b) Soldier game!

This should give you a good idea of a day in the life of a Roman soldier who is not at war. Once again you will see the continuous relationship between cause and effect.

Rules: Rules: Use a dice and two markers and play in pairs.


LO 2

HISTORICAL KNOWLEDGE AND UNDERSTANDING The learner will be able to demonstrate historical knowledge and understanding.

We know this when the learner:

2.1 understands chronology and time:

compiles an historical time line with BC, AD, ancient, modern;

2.2 supplies reasons why an historical event took place (causes, effects):

is able to supply proof orally or in written form of causes / effects of events, and to identify patterns;

2.3 differentiates between different periods (similarities, differences):

shows differences / similarities between situations experienced at present and those of a specific period by making use of written evidence.




Helmet d
Body shield of leather and iron plates e
Iron sword with a bone grip c
Spear with iron tip and wooden shaft a
Shield of wood and covered with leather h
Belt/apron of metal f
Leather sandals with iron studs g
Dagger b

(c) The gigantic catapults could fire giant rocks and spears caused damage to the walls and gates of enemy cities. It was made of wood and rope that was wound tightly.

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Source:  OpenStax, Social sciences: history grade 5. OpenStax CNX. Sep 23, 2009 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col10988/1.2
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