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The contubernium was the smallest organized unit of soldiers in the Roman Army and was composed of eight legionaries, the equivalent of a modern squad. The men within the contubernium were known as contubernales.[1] Ten contubernia were grouped into a centuria. Soldiers of a contubernium shared a tent, and could be rewarded or punished together as a unit.

It was led by a Decanus, the equivalent of a junior non-commissioned officer. They were appointed from within the contubernium and were most likely the longest serving legionary.[2] Their duties would include organising the erection of the marching tent and keeping discipline.[3]

Two auxiliary "servants", comparable to modern support troops, were assigned to each contubernium.[1] They were responsible for the care of the contubernium's pack mule, making sure the legionaries had water during the march, and often had special skills like blacksmithing or carpentry.


  1. ^ a b "The Roman Army of the Roman Republic". 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  2. ^ "Roman Military Glossary". 15 Mar 2010. Retrieved 12 April 2010. 
  3. ^ "Decanus 1st century AD". Retrieved 12 April 2010. 

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