Numantia - Encyclopedia

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NUMANTIA, an ancient hill fortress in northern Spain, in the province of Soria (Old Castile), overhanging the village of Garray, near the town of Soria, on the upper Douro. Here, on a small isolated high plateau in the middle of the valley, was the stronghold which played the principal part in a famous struggle between the conquering Romans and the native Spaniards during the years 154-133 B.C. Numantia was especially concerned inthe latter part of this war from 144 onwards. It was several times unsuccessfully besieged. Once the Roman general Hostilius Mancinus with his whole army was compelled to surrender (137). Finally, Scipio Aemilianus, Rome's first and only general in that age, with some 60,000 men drew round the town 6 m. of continuous entrenchments with seven camps at intervals. After 15 months (134-133) he reduced by hunger the6000-8000Numantine soldiers, much as Caesar afterwards reduced Alesia in Gaul. The result was regarded as a glorious victory, and in Roman literature the fall of Numantia was placed beside the fall of Carthage (149 B.C.). In truth, the maintenance in effective condition of so large a Roman force in so remote and difficult a region was in itself a real achievement and such as at that time no one but Scipio could have performed. He redeemed by organized strategy the vacillations and follies of statesmen who had sat at home and sent out inadequate expeditions or incompetent commanders. The site was, under the Roman Empire, occupied by a Roman town called Numantia, and the Itinerary tells of a Roman road which ran past it. It is to-day a "Monumento Nacional" of Spain, and has yielded I remarkable discoveries to the skilful excavations of Dr Schulten (1905-1910), who has traced the Celtiberian town, the lines of Scipio and several other Roman camps dating from the Numantine Wars. (F. J. H.)

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