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Rob Ramaker in Roman armor
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Greek, Roman Armies Clash May 2 at WIU

April 30, 2007

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MACOMB, IL - - Take a break from the PlayStation, Xbox and Wii and see what hand-to-hand battle was like in the "good-old-days" of Ancient Rome and Greece.

Two groups of Western Illinois University students will model tactics and weapons from the Roman and Greek civilizations at noon Wednesday, May 2 on the University Mall, south of the Donald S. Spencer Student Recreation Center, rain or shine.

The demonstration is the product of two undergraduate research projects by junior history Rob Ramaker (Keokuk, IA) and graduate student Dirk Yarker (Peoria), who earned his bachelor's degree in history from Western in Spring 2006 and has returned to get a teaching certificate. Both students received funding from the College of Arts and Sciences and the history department for these research projects.

Ramaker's goal is to determine if Roman training methods and their success can be better understood through reenactment than through reading.

Ramaker, who is a two-year participant with the 14th Legion Gemina Martia Vietrix reenactment group of Wisconsin, is the leader of the Roman army.

"I love Roman history," Ramaker said. "I love to see it and experience it."

The Roman reenactment group will demonstrate the spears, shields and armor – which they made – and model the tactics used by the legions around the time of Julius Caesar's first century campaigns in Gaul.

Yarker, who has made long spears out of wood and foam footballs for his army, said, "Reenacting a battle helps students to better understand historical aspects of the evolution of Ancient Roman warfare through Greek military concepts."

The Greek reenactment group will model the densely packed formation called a Macedonian phalanx, dating back to Alexander the Great's fourth century campaigns; and they will change gear and model a Greek hoplite phalanx, dating from the Persian wars.

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