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Sources about the Roxolani/ leather armour
#16
I should note that most lamellar finds are ritually deposited fragments, many in female graves, rather than complete sets associated with warrior burials.
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#17
Tony makes his point, and Dan is spot-on. Tacitus describes the Roxolani totally out of their element, the Romans had the advantage of lightness and took the day. No getting around it, combo lamellar and scale armor offers the best protection against advances by opposing cataphracts but this was not the case on that winter day.

The heaviness of lamellar-scale combo is impressive. I weigh a mere 155 pounds when standing naked on a bathroom scale. Putting on my full armor, helmet, Type 1 sword, leg braces, and akinakes, I weigh 225 pounds. If, as Dan points out, my armor was soaking wet or covered with ice? That's anyone's guess, but I would probably weigh at least 235 to 240.

I might add this. When he describes leather and horse-hoof armor, Tacitus is referencing something written earlier and probably about the 4th century BC Scythians. The Roxolani, as the Aorsi/Alan elite spearhead, were quite sophisticated with expert metalsmiths. This culture had mastered micro-soldering, they had folded steel blades (even gold-inlaid), and their armor sheets were made to an even thickness. Leather may have been worn by bowmen, but not the "Shining Alans," the actual Indo-Iranian meaning of "Rhox-Alani." Wink

(01-31-2017, 01:03 AM)Flavivs Aetivs Wrote: I should note that most lamellar finds are ritually deposited fragments, many in female graves, rather than complete sets associated with warrior burials.

Evan makes a point of a lack of complete armor in most early Sarmatian/Alan burials. Some jade scabbard slides found in the North Pontic have single chilongs, indicating Zhou or Qin manufacture, yet "reused" by subsequent generations. We also find arrowheads but not bows (which would still remain in the form of bone and horn bow-parts). The reason we find few pieces of lamellar, scale, and no bows... and quite often no swords... is explained by Simonenko, "It was preferable to leave the armor to protect the alives rather than furnish the deads." (A. Simonenko, p300) Also, we find more weapons in women's graves in the early period, less in the Mid Sarmatian Period, and hardly any in Late Sarmatian inhumations.
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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#18
 Just on the heavily armoured Sarmatian horsemen it does appear that although the various  groups undertook their raids in winter to take advantage of frozen rivers it does appear that against disciplined infantry they did have problems in icy or wet conditions with their heavy armour and slippery conditions which made their cavalry ineffective. 

The year before the Roxolani had no trouble wiping out two auxiliary cohorts and they still created havoc for a few years after their defeat on the ice.


 Besides the defeat of the Roxolani while crossing the river with their loot as described by Tacitus we also have the defeat of the overconfident Iazyges by disciplined troops on the frozen Danube during the Marcomannic Wars by Cassius Dio. Strabo also refers to either Roxolani, Aorsi or Siraces mercenary cavalry units fighting for one of the various Pontic rulers, being defeated by Neoptolemus, Mithridates’ general near Kerch on the Sea of Azov just after the beginning of the reign of Mithridates the Great. Although there is no mention of armour it is obvious that the battle took place on the frozen sea and it looks like conditions didn't suit them.
 
 Strabo then goes on to say that a few months later (I am not really sure which battle was first) Neoptolemus defeated the same enemy in the same spot in a naval engagement in Book 7,3,18 - It is said of Neoptolemus, the general of Mithridates, that in the same strait he overcame the barbarians in a naval engagement in summer and in a cavalry engagement in winter.
And  Book 2,1,16 - The frosts are so severe at the mouth of Lake Maeotis that, at a certain spot where, in winter time, Mithridates' general conquered the barbarians in a cavalry engagement fought on the ice, he afterwards, in summer time, when the ice had melted, defeated the same barbarians in a naval engagement.
 
 Pausanius was describing what he saw on display at the Temple of Aesculapius/Asclepius in Athens. Aesculapius was the Greek god of medicine and was venerated with snake imagery.

   

 It would not be surprising for someone to display Sarmatian armour with its reptilian look at the temple. As for Ammianus, I thought he was describing how some of the Alans fought in cuirasses made from smooth and polished pieces of horn. fastened like scales to linen shirts. The princes and the nobles probably had iron and hide armour. Smile 

Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#19
Thanks for the addition, Michael

We completely overlooked the use of horn scales, as mentioned by Ammianus. The "barbarians" fought by Neoptolemus might well have been the main group of Aorsi, and I think a bit historically late for Siraces. I found a very interesting image from Kosika, on the Kuban Peninsula and just across the straight from Kerch, again the same "barbarians."


   
Here we have a rider wearing scale armor, not a cataphract but holding a contus. It's an image of striking cultural continuity (probably should have been posted on the Origins of the Alans thread). This warrior wears less than shoulder-length hair, a Yuezhi diadem, and he sports a typical moustache that Karl Jettmar has called the, "Pazyryk cultural identity." All these features are seen on the frieze at Khalchayan, Bactria. His horse has a crenellated mane like those found on Mongolian Altai petroglyphs, in Shihuangdi's terracotta horses, and illustrated on Eastern Han ink rubbings.


   
And here's a noble from the Bactrian frieze. It was a small world. Big Grin
Alan J. Campbell

member of Legio III Cyrenaica and the Uncouth Barbarians

Author of:
The Demon's Door Bolt (2011)
Forging the Blade (2012)

"It's good to be king. Even when you're dead!"
             Old Yuezhi/Pazyrk proverb
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