What We Learned From Learning About Septimius Severus During The Know The Ledge Project

During the project "Know The Ledge" we discovered very revealing and important information about Septimius Severus, the Roman Emperor of Rome.

Septimius Severus was born in Leptus Magna which is modern day Libya in 145 C.E and died in 211 C.E. According to historians - Dr Cheik Anta Diop and Dr Ben Jocannan, at the time of 197 C.E, the region which is now known as Libya was primarily populated by people of African origin or people with mixed European and African ancestry.

He became the emperor of Rome by seizing power with a military force of 75,000 soldiers in the year 197. This is an excerpt from the book Know The Ledge by 7E Youth Academy: “It is well known that during the Roman Empire there were many legions made up predominately of African soldiers and who conducted operations across the world including Britain.”

During our workshop with historian Robin Walker, we discussed with the group the ethnic origin of the Romans and the make up of their armies. He described how certain Roman legions were made up of soldiers from different regions. For example mainly Germanic legions or African legions.

We also looked at the work of historians Dr Ivan Van Sertima, J.A Rodgers and Dr Runako Rashidi. We also looked at the nature of Roman Citizenry and the fact that race was not the defining factor of a person in Roman times as it is now. Rome was a much more diverse society than we have been led to believe involving a significant African population.

There are various methods of analysing human remains to determine age, gender and ethnicity. Archaeologists and heritage professionals can also examine tools, household items, artefacts and regalia to determine the cultural origin of a person or tribe. Methods including carbon dating, electromagnetic dating, pollen analysis can be used for these purposes.

"The skeletons of African soldiers in Romanized British towns have been found in York and Stratford upon Avon and African regiments were known to have been present guarding Hadrian wall which bordered Scotland from Roman Britain during that time (BBC News, Coventry & Warwickshire 2011). Septimius Severus the African Roman Emperor ruled Rome between 193-211 CE and visited Britain in 208 CE. Emperor Septimius Sevrerus was the Roman Emperor from 191 C.E".

Learning about Septimius Severus was great for all of who attended the workshops and were involved in the project.  We learned that he was one several key figures of African origin in Roman society. We also found that there have been archaeological finds of an "African Queen" also known as "The ivory bangle lady" and other lay non-military British Roman citizens of African origin. Also by studying his life reached into learning about wider Roman life, the empire, the ethnicities of the ancient Romans and Roman involvement in heritage.

By Omar Buchanan

Bibliography and Further Reading

Ivan Van Sertima, "Golden age of the Moor" Journal of African Civilisations, 1996.

J.A. & "Sex and Race Vol 1, 2 and 3" Helga M. Rodgers, 1970.

Dr Cheik Anta Diop. & "African the origin of civilisation; Myth or Reality" Chicago Review Press, 1989.

7E Youth Academy. "Know The Ledge". 7EYA. 2015.