Monday, April 22, 2013

2013 Two Truths and a Lie #3


FALSE

   Which might be confusing if you've seen the picture below with no context.
  Trajan's Column is an impressive record of both of the Dacian Wars. The part relevant to us is the exterior of the column, which has a spiral frieze carved on it. Many of the "barbarians" depicted on it are Dacian, but Sarmatians take part and make an appearance.
  On the column, there's a panel showing the Sarmatians fleeing from the Romans. Both they and their horses are decked out in scale mail from head to toe. However, no one thinks this is an accurate representation of what the Sarmatians would be wearing. Because let's face it....it just seems ridiculous. Can you imagine a rider sitting on scale mail pants while his horse is trotting? Or a horse trying to run with a tube of scale mail around its legs scraping against the scale on its side? This depiction could be based on the scared and exaggerated memory of a survivor, an artistic flight of fancy, or a miscommunication between the two. Elsewhere on the column, hauberks are depicted as spoils of war with no evidence of pants. 

 Ammianus and Pausanias, two classical authors from different centuries, both describe Sarmatians as wearing scale cuirasses made from horse hooves. Pausianus mentions that they are sewn on with horse or cattle hair and Ammianus adds that they are sewn to a linen shirt. Neither of them mention scale pants. Frustratingly, though, no hoof cuirasses have been found in any Sarmatian archeological finds. I haven't done much serious research into Sarmatian armor, but current opinions seem to hold that a mix of metal scales and lamellar plates are more likely/common.



Pausianus, Periegesis
Ammianus Marcellinus, Res Getae
Brzezinski, R., and Mielczarek, M., 2002, Men-at-Arms: The Sarmatians 600BC-450AD, Osprey publishing.


6 comments:

  1. I guessed it! :D I especially like the tent-wagons. I want a tent-wagon.

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  2. Are you from Eastern Europe by chance or just interested in Sarmatians?Either way,nice stuff!

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    1. Nope. I'm American with my genetics mostly from Western Europe with a touch of Native American. I just think Sarmatians are really interesting. :)

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  3. Nice,good to see some Americans are interested in this kind of history too:P

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  4. Hi! Newcomer here. I thought you might find this interesting:

    http://www.ajaonline.org/sites/default/files/AJA1141_Yablonsky.pdf

    It's a fairly recent archaeological report (with pictures!) on some Early Sarmatian kurgan burials found in Russia, and has some interesting tidbits about armor and weapons.

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    1. Excellent! I'll have to write a post on this one.

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