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Full Version: Batavians ? Alert for Peronis and Caballo
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Just a wild thought I had the other day......
On the RMRS site, you blokes illustrate some cut down, pelt covered helmets that might be associated with Batavian cohorts.
On p.55 of Connolly's "The Roman Army", he illustrates a similar cut down helmet (no neck guard or cheek pieces, but with "trajanic" cross pieces, and calls it an auxiliary helmet )

We know that Batavian auxiliaries won their "C.R." in the Dacian wars.Might this feat have been worthy of recognition on Trajan's column?
Lo and behold, auxiliaries (several) are shown on the column wearing pelt covered helmets ! I illustrated one of these as no. 15 on p.68 in Phil Barkers "Armies and enemies of Imperial Rome". The pelt covered helmets give them the look of legionary signifers, and many commentators dismiss them as 'sculptors error.'
Just gut feeling, and we have to slide over a lot of missing links in the evidence chain, but I don't believe 'sculptors error'. I think these may have been intended to be Batavians, or at the very least some other Germanic auxiliaries ( none of whom seem to have achieved the prominence of the 'Cohors Batavorum' ). The similarities are not exact with the earlier finds, but fashion could have changed a little, or the sculptors may not have seen Batavians and been working from a description...e.g. " they look like other auxiliaries, but are distinguished by their pelt covered helmets..."

If that is the case, then we may also have a plausible shield motif for them...
All the pelt covered helmet wearing auxiliaries have the same shield design, with slight variation. A circle round the boss, with a wreath around that, and a cresent above and below. ( I think it was Rossi who suggested the wreath indicated C.R. staus - on what basis I can't recall). This design is illustrated as no. lix on p.85 of Barker.

All a bit tenuous I know, but consistent with the little evidence we have, and plausible.

Your thoughts on the possibility ???
Yes, this is the Florence helmet that Robinson classified as an Auxiliary Infantry C type.

Quote:We know that Batavian auxiliaries won their "C.R." in the Dacian wars.Might this feat have been worthy of recognition on Trajan's column?


This helmet cross-bracing style isn't seen until late second to early third century. Way too late for the Trajanic period. I think PC and HRR tried too hard to match one of the helmets on Trajan's Column to an extant find and got the dating wrong. This cross-bracing (intersected vertical cross) can be seen on later cavalry helmets of the Aux Cav D and E types. I'm of the opinion that the Florence helmet is contemporary with these. Like this early one from the Axel Guttmann collection...
http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b242/ ... elmet1.gif

My personal thinking (from the dating of the cross-bracing) is that the Florence Aux Inf C should actually look something like this...
http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b242/ ... rence3.jpg
and not how Connolly reconstructed it.

I kept a broader (typically infantry style) neck guard, as the Florence helmet is unlike the cavalry types in respect of the rear arm of bracing not extending down to the occipital area.

As for the pelt-covered helmets, Yes it's quite plausible for them to be Batavian auxiliaries, or they could be the antisignani. The penchant for Batavians to cover helmets in furs and wigs doesn't necessarily translate as full-on pelts as seen on the Column. The evidence we have is (for infantry) the Krefeld helmet which was covered in a marten pelt (a very small ferret-like creature) and for the cavalry, the two helmets from Nijmegen and one from Xanten, which have the remains of wigs made from either human hair or bear fur. No full pelts as seen on the Column.

Quote:or the sculptors may not have seen Batavians and been working from a description...e.g. " they look like other auxiliaries, but are distinguished by their pelt covered helmets..."

The Batavians were certainly a strange bunch with strange ideas of military fashion, but I have to agree it IS a possiblity, but sadly we cannot say more than that. a possibility!
I agree- this section is a really interesting part of the column.

Elsewhere on RAT , Tarbicus did a really smart pictorial analysis in this thread http://www.romanarmy.com/rat/viewtopic. ... fur+helmet dividing this bit into three or more groups- from the club wielding numeri to the pelt-helmeted auxilaries.

One helmet here also seems to have similarities to the Krefeld Gelduba style (i.e. no cheekguards/ neckguard) with a chin strap (a comparable helmet is in Zurich, still with some of the leather strapping).
More on Batavian fur covered helmets here from Peronis - cavalry and infantry http://www.romanarmy.net/batavianhelm.htm

I don't buy sculptors' error here- this appears to be (IMHO) an attempt to represent auxilaries with fur covered helmets, though whether the scupltor had ever seen them is another matter!

As regards shield designs linked to a unit...who knows, but fun to speculate Big Grin ! However, our design is off the column as well.

Cheers

Caballo
Looking closely at the TC picture, it also appears that the men wearing the skin covered helmets are depicted with beards (a la Germanic clubman) whereas the soldiers without fur (as most of the other auxiliaries appear on the Column) have no beards.

Tacitus again...

In the Germania he describes the Batavi.. "Their young men cut neither hair nor beard till they had slain an enemy. On the field of battle, in the midst of carnage and plunder, they, for the first time, bared their faces. The cowardly and sluggish only, remained unshorn".

Quote:As regards shield designs linked to a unit...who knows, but fun to speculate ! However, our design is off the column as well.

The design seen on the 'pelted' auxiliaries on TC (the wreath and moons) is repeated in various scenes, and only once is it shown with the 'furry helmets'.
Quote:I think it was Rossi who suggested the wreath indicated C.R. staus - on what basis I can't recall

Possibly something to do with the 'Civic Crown' of laurels? The 'Corona Civica'

As Caballo says, ours is taken from the column
This guy..with a small crest.
[Image: crestedauxiliary-1.jpg]
The design is also repeated on the grave altar of a Batavian 'quartermaster' of the Equites Singulari Augusti...
[Image: equitesstone-1.jpg]
Thank you very much for the responses, guys.
I see my thoughts are hardly original, and it was interesting to read the previous thread !
One minor thought - if I recall correctly, crests on the column are shown rarely, and usually (always ? ) associated with guard units.
That would make the shield emblema that you use that of a guard unit of auxiliaries - possibly 'equites singularis' - which would be consistent with the gravestone..........
All very tantalising possibilities !!!
Postscriptum ;

It seems my memory is faulty regarding Rossi's theories - I've just checked - he points out that the title 'torquata' is shown on shields as the twisted wreath (torquata also means circular wreath in latin e.g. 'nexis torquibus arae' in Virgil describing wreaths festooned around an altar - Rossi, p.114 )
Using his ideas on iconographic symbology, he reckons to pick out 'cohors 1 Brittonum milliara Ulpia torquata p.f.c.r.' by a shield design having all his criteria; a wreath (torquata) and civium romanum (eagle and she-wolf badge). I have to say I am a little dubious here, but it is as plausible a theory as any other put forward.
A quick check ( no more at this stage ) shows the "wreath and moon" designs on fur-pelt-helmet auxiliaries (three or four) and only one or two others, who are bearded !
A similar design,minus wreath, and with lower moon replaced by a star, is carried by a 'shield wall' of 4 bearded 'symacchiari, two helmeted, two bare headed, the nearest one stripped to the waist and carrying a club.
Back in the 'seventies whist based in London, I started a full study of the column, via "Cichorius" in the British Library and the casts in the V&A, but alas never finished it as work etc took me away from London.........
I'm looking forward to Coulston's new book on the column - it will be interesting to see if he promulgates his earlier views of "sculptors mistakes" for many of the anomalies.
"My personal thinking (from the dating of the cross-bracing) is that the Florence Aux Inf C should actually look something like this...
http://i20.photobucket.com/albums/b242/ ... rence3.jpg
and not how Connolly reconstructed it. "

Yes, my thoughts exactly.

Crispvs