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Sarmatian Cavalry
#1
I'm working on a Sarmatian Cavalry Impression, and I've gotten soem research down, I'm currently working on horn scale armor. I can't seem to find much on swords, I'm thinking it would appear similiar to a Roman Spatha?

Would a saddle for Sarmatian's be similiar to a Roman Saddle? I've done a great deal of research on the ancient world for my BA, but I have found scant little in the way of info on these subjects. I have found several primary source references, the neatest being the quote on the armor being made "of horn or hoof, in a scale pattern"

Thanks to all who will offer help,
Matthew
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#2
Tacitus said it was a sword so large it was over the shoulder and wielded with two hands. It kind've makes sense. Sarmatian heavy cavalry (which is what i'm assuming you're researching) didn't carry shields because of the size of their kontos's(kontoi?). I can't find anything about weapons from the Pokrovka burial sites. Sarmatian cavalry would've influenced later cataphracts and clibarnii. I would say that a lengthened spatha form would be as good a guess as any.

Saddles are tough one. Historians (especially from ones that glorify infantry) don't write about saddles. An armored man wielding lance, sword, and bow without stirrups would definitely need a lot of support. I saw somewhere that it was mentioned that in some cases the lance was chained to the saddle to keep the rider from falling off at impact and to add the weight of the horse to the strike. Sadly, the source totally escapes me. I've also seen illustrations of Sarmatian cavalry showing large guards attached to the saddle to protect the rider's legs.

Tacitus says iron scales in Origins of the Germans. My guess is that it would've depended on the wealth of the wearer. Metal scale armor would've been extremely expensive to make and maintain. Not to mention the wearer would need a big horse that couldn't subsist on open grazing except at certain times of the year while campaigning.

My own personal guess would be that the poorest men would've worn scale armor of boiled leather scales moving up to the richest wearing iron or bronze with hoof/horn scales in the middle somewhere. To save weight, Japanese armorsmiths mixed their materials using metal scales (technically lames) to protect vital areas and lacquered rawhide for less vital areas. It's not too terrible a leap to think that Sarmatians might've done come up with the same idea.

Tacitus also mentions chainmail protecting the neck IIRC.

Hope this helps.
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#3
Quote:Tacitus said it was a sword so large it was over the shoulder and wielded with two hands. It kind've makes sense.

Metal scale armor would've been extremely expensive to make and maintain. Not to mention the wearer would need a big horse that couldn't subsist on open grazing except at certain times of the year while campaigning.

To save weight, Japanese armorsmiths mixed their materials using metal scales (technically lames) to protect vital areas and lacquered rawhide for less vital areas. It's not too terrible a leap to think that Sarmatians might've done come up with the same idea.

Nate is pretty much on the money. My research falls in the Alanic culture, or Eastern Sarmatians. Tacitus said the Roxolani swords were long, not necessarily "large." These swords were designed much like the early Han Dynasty sword. The Alans, or a subtribe thereof, called the "Wusun," were allies of the Chinese against the Xiongnu. The Wuson lived in the Ili River valley and around Issyk Kul. They are the original breeders of the "Heavenly Horse." These animals were not small.

The Wuson descended from the Altai culture, where horses of 15 hands were used by high nobles. The Altai culture also used the "scabbard slide" three centuries before it showed up on Chinese scabbards. I believe (and I don't think I'm alone on this) the Chinese were heavily influenced by the Eastern Sarmatians and vice versa. The Roxolanic sword had eastern features, scabbard slides, disk pommels, etc. I recently finished two Wusun swords based upon the illustration etched on the Orlof Battle placque, circa 2nd to 1st century BC. These swords balance well, one of spatha length, the other 4 inches longer. Varients of these swords also had fullers, sometimes doubled.

Gook Luck on your impression. Nice to know someone else is doing one.
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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#4
Salve,
try this book http://www.amazon.co.uk/Simonenko-Sarmat...083&sr=1-4
It has a chapter on swords etc
bachmat66 (Dariusz T. Wielec)
<a class="postlink" href="http://dariocaballeros.blogspot.com/">http://dariocaballeros.blogspot.com/
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#5
Salve,

Here are a few other books on the subject, most dealing with pre-Sarmatian as well. Several give the "big picture" background, particularly where the culture came from and how it flourished across the steppes:

Brzezinki & Mielczarek, The Sarmatians
Jettmar, Art of the Steppes
Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language
Kelekna, The Horse in Human History
Aruz, Alekseev, et al, The Golden Deer of Eurasia

also the old guys:
Herodotus
Amianus Marcellinus
Tacitus

Books devoted to Sarmatians and Alans/Massagetae are too few, and I doubt the trend will change until the public (and students) realize that ealry steppe cultures gave us more relevant and lasting traditions than the Romans did.
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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#6
Quote:Salve,... the trend will change until the public (and students) realize that ealry steppe cultures gave us more relevant and lasting traditions than the Romans did.

They did? "More Relevant and lasting"?

I don't doubt the steppe cultures contributed to the warp and weft of modern culture but isn't Rome (with Greece) is the very foundation of western culture?
"Fugit irreparabile tempus" (Irrecoverable time glides away) Virgil

Ron Andrea
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#7
Quote:Salve,

Here are a few other books on the subject, most dealing with pre-Sarmatian as well. Several give the "big picture" background, particularly where the culture came from and how it flourished across the steppes:

Brzezinki & Mielczarek, The Sarmatians
Jettmar, Art of the Steppes
Anthony, The Horse, the Wheel, and Language
Kelekna, The Horse in Human History
Aruz, Alekseev, et al, The Golden Deer of Eurasia

also the old guys:
Herodotus
Amianus Marcellinus
Tacitus

Books devoted to Sarmatians and Alans/Massagetae are too few, and I doubt the trend will change until the public (and students) realize that ealry steppe cultures gave us more relevant and lasting traditions than the Romans did.
well,
actually only Russian book by Simonenko and Mielczarek's one are relevant here to the question of swords (Golden Deer does not deal with swords in depth). There are other books in Russian that treat this subject in depth - and plenty of those - Simonenko is quite recent, that is why I gave this title.
Kalekna book is not a good one - she devotes 5 pages to the Sarmatians Sad , better is Sidnell book, there is a bit more there if I remember correctly (but just to compare with Kalekna, not for the mertis of both etc)
But Steppe Nomads of the Bronze and Iron age is very relevant, Prehistory of Silk Road and Sulimirski's The Sarmatians are very relevant, Ilkka Syvännes book The Age of Hippotaxotai (he has recently published a very interesting article on Goths in Desperta Fero) . Perhaps this book: König Chlodwig war kein Franke: Frankreichs und Deutschlands sarmatische Wurzeln by Reinhard Schmoeckel might be relevant to the issue of influence of steppe People on the European history and civilization,
Friend of mine, avid historical ridding fan, ecuyer, and Napoleonic recenactor wrote a very intersting article on Sarmatian horsemanship and use of kontos, challenging the older Simonenko article, however his article has not been published yet.
this article by S. M. Perevalov - The Sarmatian Lance and the Sarmatian Horse-Riding Posture is very interesting (Russian version accessible on the net)
Writings by M. Rostovtzeff are still very interesting, both on the Scythians and Sarmatians. also this article on Oralt plaques could be http://www.transoxiana.org/Eran/Articles/mode.html
some other articles http://www.pontos.dk/publications/books/...gradov.pdf
http://dlib.eastview.com/browse/doc/12746846
this one is on the Bosporan kingdom and their military http://iimk.nw.ru/rus/download/goroncharovskii.pdf
http://www.xlegio.ru/ancient-armies/mili...ies-issue/
also look at this page - swords if you scroll http://historicalchroniclesarenotforgott..._6873.html
bachmat66 (Dariusz T. Wielec)
<a class="postlink" href="http://dariocaballeros.blogspot.com/">http://dariocaballeros.blogspot.com/
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#8
Quote: I doubt the trend will change until the public (and students) realize that ealry steppe cultures gave us more relevant and lasting traditions than the Romans did.
I assume you are referring to that windsock they place next to bridges, or the invention of horseriding, breeding cattle perhaps or such trivial matters as the wheel.
Because, if none of these were really invented by steppe cultures, I think the Romans left us with a great deal more 'lasting traditions', such as the originins of Law, the road system as we know it, the arch, town planning, canal building, aquaduct technology (did I mention concrete yet?), military organisation, Asterix comics, the cross, ehm... What have the Romans ever done for us??Big Grin
Robert Vermaat
MODERATOR
FECTIO Late Romans
THE CAUSE OF WAR MUST BE JUST
(Maurikios-Strategikon, book VIII.2: Maxim 12)
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#9
Hello Ron and Robert,

Well, I guess I stuck my foot in my mouth.:wink:
Of course, the reason Romans spoke Latin-- and we now speak Dutch, German, and English-- is due to steppe cultures spreading Indo-European languages. Some say they wiped out "Old Europe" and brought us the chieftain, general, and cavalry. I wear boots and trousers, not sandals and togas. What I meant, I guess, is the really old picture, pre Sarmatian/Alan and pre Turkic. Where would Homer's Achilles be without his chariot?

The Romans had concrete and roads, but the steppe was the original super-highway.Smile
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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#10
I do enjoy these discusions based on ethnicity and nationalism. They teach my kids lots about the world. Confusedmile:
John Conyard

York

A member of Comitatus Late Roman
Reconstruction Group

<a class="postlink" href="http://www.comitatus.net">http://www.comitatus.net
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.historicalinterpretations.net">http://www.historicalinterpretations.net
<a class="postlink" href="http://lateantiquearchaeology.wordpress.com">http://lateantiquearchaeology.wordpress.com
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#11
Quote:I do enjoy these discusions based on ethnicity and nationalism. They teach my kids lots about the world. Confusedmile:

John,

None of this is based on ethnicity and nationalism, but rather upon archaeology and linguistics. The Sintashta Culture (2000 BC,southern Russian steppe)chariot burials predate any chariots showing up in China, Mesopotamia, or Greece. Interestingly, the burial goods also included bronze socketed spear (or lance) heads that also predate the "European spear-head" by a thousand years. This can be directly tied to the Roman cavalry and Equites Taifali; and the Taifali themselves were a steppe culture.:-)

The steppe was the ancient "super highway." How else could steppe tribes bronze technology arrive with the Chinese Ordos bronzes? Or the chariot in Egypt or Greece or China? Or how did your shield design-- the "dragon and pearl"-- arrive in Britain? The dragon and pearl shows on 2nd century BC Chinese swords, and still remains today on Chinese Buddhist gongs.:wink:

To get back to Robert: The only reason, or catylist, for all those Roman roads was horse-back riding and the spoked wheel. Prior to its steppe origin, people were using solid-wheeled carts drawn by ongers or bullocks. In a sense, the spoke wheel developed into modern mass transportation of Subarus, Fords, and Chevrolets zooming down modern super-highways.
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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#12
Talking about "ethnicity and nationalism." Why does RAT have so many posts and threads on Germanic hairstyles, Germanic shields, Germanic whatever else, if there is not a subconcious "ethnic" lean in the Germanic direction?

As opposed to the plethora of Germanic this-and-thats, this thread is the singular example of "Sarmatian" historical info-- a culture which obviously influenced both Roman and Germanic styles and weapons. I'm not an advocate of "ethnicity" in any form, but the Germanic bias is prevelent throughout RAT and reenactment in general, and closely followed up by Celtisism.

What is the truth of it, when we see horse-back reenactors pretending to be Roman cavarly when in fact they are second-hand steppe warriors?:roll:
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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#13
Hi Matthew!

I think you should check Deepeeka's new and improved "archers helmet" (for example from http://www.armae.com & roman helmets). When I first saw it it striked me that it could perhaps be a very good representative of a sarmatian helmet. The new improved helmet has a smaller/better shaped bowl, smaller scales at the neck guard etc.
Virilis / Jyrki Halme
PHILODOX
Moderator
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#14
Quote:I'm working on a Sarmatian Cavalry Impression, and... I can't seem to find much on swords, I'm thinking it would appear similiar to a Roman Spatha?"

Thanks to all who will offer help,
Matthew

Back to Matthew and his original question. A Sarmatian/Alanic sword was roughly the same length as a spatha, but it was much narrower, at least a full centimeter or more. And the swords had a groved or "fullered" blade. The spatha was not groved. \\

A disk-pommel sword similar to those found in the Crimea and Kuban can be approximated by a "Han Dynasty Plain Fittings Sword." They can be modified, and are availabe through the JKoo Sword Company, Longquan, China. I have purchase several of their swords and the blade quality is far superior to that of Indian make. Ask Kane Yang (Jkoo email rep)for a groved blade, either single or double groved.: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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#15
What era are you looking at reconstructing, and from what region? There is a lot of very interesting material for the Sarmatians, but it comes from varied regions and time periods (5th-4th c. BC until the 4th-5th c. AD or so).
Ruben

He had with him the selfsame rifle you see with him now, all mounted in german silver and the name that he\'d give it set with silver wire under the checkpiece in latin: Et In Arcadia Ego. Common enough for a man to name his gun. His is the first and only ever I seen with an inscription from the classics. - Cormac McCarthy, Blood Meridian
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