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Deskford Draco
#1
Some years ago I suggested (to be honest I don't think it was my idea originally) that the so called Deskford Carnix might actually be the remains of a draco standard.
http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/thread-...#pid287407

It looks as though there may be something new to add to the suggestion.

In one of the images linked from another recent thread, there appears to be a contemporary image of a draco whose head looks more than a little like the surviving portion of the Deskford 'carnix'.
http://warfare.ml/6-10/Vinica-Terracotta_Icons.htm

Looking at the image, it looks as if there is a curving section which curls back under it, which I wonder might be useful in producing the noise that so many expect a draco to produce but no-one seems to be able to get.

For reference, here is the Deskford 'Carnix' for comparison.
http://images.google.co.uk/imgres?imgurl...CCIQ9QEwAQ


Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

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#2
(06-02-2017, 07:30 PM)Crispvs Wrote: a draco whose head looks more than a little like the surviving portion of the Deskford 'carnix'.

Although I appreciate the discussion, I have some reservations:

a) the draco in this image has a nearly closed mouth, whereas the Deskford object hasn't. So either it looks like it or it does not. 
b) the Deskford object is clearly a part of a larger object, which favours theories that is was part of a musical instrument rather than a windsock. It was clearly not mounted on a shaft, not could a tail be attached to it (no flange).

This object in your post above shows similarities to another 6th c. Roman draco, also with a nearly closed mouth but also with something attached. In my humble opinion the later dracos no longer had a windsock attached but a banner instead, so the heads no longer needed to have open mouths.
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#3
Looking at the Deskford object, a couple of observations could be made in relation to the terracotta draco image.

Firstly, the Deskford object is incomplete, so we cannot tell whether or not a further section with a ferrule for a shaft might originally have adjoined the surviving piece.

Secondly, the Deskford object appears to have sustained some damage around the mouth, so may originally have looked more closed than it does now. I am not sure how big the terracotta tablet is, but I would imagine it would also be quite hard to accurately depict a narrowly open mouth in clay.

Added to that, I certainly see what you mean about windsocks, and if the objects depicted on the Bayeaux Tapestry are intended to be dracos they certainly lack anything resembling windsocks. However, the draco depicted on the terracotta appears to have a horn shaped section curving back under it, which could potentially act to reverberate sound, not forgetting the Deskford item's wooden tongue, which does not make much sense for a wind instrument blown by the human mouth (lung power would have to work extremely hard to be able to move a wooden tongue even slightly) but would quite possibly produce a clapping/clanging noise as it hit against the bronze 'palate' of the head when being carried by someone riding a cantering horse. I wonder too if the eyes or the Deskford piece were originally filled, or whether they might have played a role in allowing air and/or sound to emerge from the head.

I am quite happy to accept that the apparent windsock on the terracotta image might be a streamer.

Crispvs
Who is called \'\'Paul\'\' by no-one other than his wife, parents and brothers. :!: <img src="{SMILIES_PATH}/icon_exclaim.gif" alt=":!:" title="Exclamation" />:!:

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#4
(06-02-2017, 07:30 PM)Crispvs Wrote: Looking at the image, it looks as if there is a curving section which curls back under it

It looks to me more like it's just a curling 'sock':

   


(06-03-2017, 02:32 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: In my humble opinion the later dracos no longer had a windsock attached but a banner instead

When would that be, Robert?
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#5
(06-04-2017, 10:59 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote:
(06-03-2017, 02:32 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: In my humble opinion the later dracos no longer had a windsock attached but a banner instead

When would that be, Robert?

I would guess the 6th century, seeing some examples from that time onwards. Perhaps it coincided with the introduction of banners and flags?
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#6
(06-05-2017, 11:59 AM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: I would guess the 6th century... Perhaps it coincided with the introduction of banners and flags?

Ah yes, could be!
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#7
I've been reading Claudian lately and he makes a clear distinction between the aquilas, the dracos, and the 'serpens'. In the Third Consulship to Honorius, for example, he describes in succession the 'flying eagles', then the 'embroidered dragons, and finally the 'writhing serpents' (138-139) in one sentence. This is not the only time Claudian clearly differentiates between a draco and a serpent either. This would seem to indicate that in Claudian's time , aside from the aquila, there were two other distinct imperial standards which were worth comment above the standard (no pun intended) vexilla or flags. If the dragon was marked by the particular hollow tube which whistled eerily with the breath of the wind, perhaps the 'serpens' was the infantry equivalent but differed from the draco in that it possessed 'writhing' tails rather than a hollow tube? This would seem to make more sense in that a) it would be hard for a marching infantry line to present a standard which caught the wind and produced a moan and b) if you follow Claudian's listing, the 'serpens' invairably comes after the draco - which might indicate a status order: the Eagle as the high imperial standard of old, the higher status equites draco, followed finally by the infantry serpent.
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#8
(06-05-2017, 09:40 PM)Colla levant, Longovicium Wrote: if you follow Claudian's listing, the 'serpens' invairably comes after the draco - which might indicate a status order: the Eagle as the high imperial standard of old, the higher status equites draco, followed finally by the infantry serpent.

Hmm, an ingenious and very plausible suggestion!

With the caveat, of course, that Claudian was a poet/panegyricist who often appears to mix up his military terminology, and that his (near) contemporary Vegetius gives the draco to the infantry...

Also, isn't it the serpents that are doing the 'hissing' here?:

Hi volucres volunt aquilas, hi picta draconum / Colla levant, multusque tumet per nubila serpens iratus stimulante Noto vivitque receptis flatibus et vario mentitur sibila tractu.

"These [troops] bear flying eagles, those raise the painted heads of dragons, and many a serpent writhes among the clouds coming angrily to life when the wind animates them with its breath and by various exhalations pretends to hiss".*

(Pan. de III Cons. Hon. Aug. 138-141)

Sidonius Apollinaris, meanwhile, in his Panegyric to Majorian, writes of a textilis anguis (fabric snake or dragon?) "its throat swelling when the breezes blow into it; with yawning jaws the image counterfeits a raging hunger; the wind drives the fabric to a fury whenever it beats upon that supple back with its breath, and the hollow stomach can no longer take so much air"

(Pan. Maioriano Aug. 402-407) - both quotes from here, which follows with some other observations on later military banners and signa.


*EDIT - quick note - I've often assumed that the draco was made to 'hiss' by the air entering the open 'mouth' in some way - but 'exhalation' suggests the opposite. If the pointed end of the 'sock' was fitted with a narrow metal tube, like a whistle, then would the air being forced out through it made the required noise?
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#9
(06-05-2017, 09:40 PM)Longovicium Wrote: If the dragon was marked by the particular hollow tube which whistled eerily with the breath of the wind, perhaps the 'serpens' was the infantry equivalent but differed from the draco in that it possessed 'writhing' tails rather than a hollow tube?

a status order: the Eagle as the high imperial standard of old, the higher status equites draco, followed finally by the infantry serpent.

Interesting, but there are some sources that indicate differently:

Arrian is already describing the cavalry draco as making noise from the tail:
Arrianus, Tactica 35: they fill with air through the wind so they are most like the beasts and even hiss when a strong wind flows through much movement
Ammianus also mentions that the emperor himself was recognisable by a purple draco, indicating to me that the eagle was not the imperial standard, nor the first in status.

(06-05-2017, 10:47 PM)Nathan Ross Wrote: *EDIT - quick note - I've often assumed that the draco was made to 'hiss' by the air entering the open 'mouth' in some way - but 'exhalation' suggests the opposite. If the pointed end of the 'sock' was fitted with a narrow metal tube, like a whistle, then would the air being forced out through it made the required noise?

Nobody has managed to recreate the hissing sound of the dracones. My best guess at the moment would be that some design in the fabric of the tail could have produced the sound.
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#10
Oh interesting, I read the Claudian quote above in a grammatically different manner: I had it that the wind 'affected' the draco and serpens together (as being distinct from the Eagle) - "These raise standards adorned with flying eagles, or with embroidered dragons or writhing serpents, that in their thousands seem to be roused to angry life by the breath of the wind which, as it blows them this way and that, causes them to rustle with a sound like the hiss of a living snake."

Or the Latin: "hi volucres tollunt aquilas, hi picta draconum
colla levant, multusque tumet per nubila serpens
iratus stimulante Noto vivitque receptis
flatibus et vario mentitur sibila tractu."

But my Latin is poor to nothing when it comes to the faithfulness of the original wording. In other words, the wind effects both the dragons and serpents equally in terms of their visual and aural impact but these are still two differentiated standards. However, I take your point about the poetic imagery here - again a lack of Latin means that I can't tell if Claudian is inserting the 'serpens' to make the line scan while carrying on the imagery?

As for the sound itself, the Eboracum Roman Festival 2017 threw up some interesting discussions around 'Hovis', our own draco (named, I am told because the original one was going to be made out of a loaf tin . . .). Apparently Time Team used Chinese Whistles inserted not in the mouth or tube as these impeded the wind flow but instead within the pole itself. Someone suggested possibly using reeds inserted into the mouth as these would be too small to impact the flow of air - while Mark, one of our main members, theorised that if we used a hollow pole instead of a solid one, it would a) be lighter to carry on horseback and b) if it ended half-way up within the draco head then the passing air might travel over it giving off that eery hollow moan you get when you blow over the top of an open bottle. This latter suggestion from Mark seemed quite practical for those two reasons.
Francis Hagan

The Barcarii
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#11
(06-06-2017, 05:15 PM)Longovicium Wrote: my Latin is poor to nothing when it comes to the faithfulness of the original wording.

Mine too! I got my translation from the book I linked above, which seemed the most 'literal' I could find - so you could be right, but we'd need a latinist to tell us...


(06-06-2017, 05:15 PM)Longovicium Wrote: 'Hovis', our own draco

Ah yes, the famous standard of the Pistores Seniores!

I knew there'd been several attempts to replicate the 'hissing' sound of the draco, but I wasn't sure what techniques anybody had used. The 'hollow pole' idea might work, although I can't imagine it would be very loud...

I was thinking of the line in Sidonius where he has the draco's 'throat swelling', and says 'the hollow stomach can no longer take so much air' - it does sound like the 'tail' itself becomes inflated, like a huge bag, and the noise is produced by the air escaping somehow. A tube or whistle at the narrow end of the tail might do it - although, as you say, the air might not escape easily enough and the whole thing could become rather unmanageable!

On the other hand, the whole 'hissing' thing might just be a poetic conceit,  although it does seem that quite a few people mention it.
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#12
I still wonder on the adoption of a cavalry standard into the ordered lines of the infantry -- while I can see the totem's head and long falling silk body as being quite magnificent and awe-inspiring, I am struggling to see the windsock inflating to produce the eerie sound linked to the draco while the Roman infantry either remain still or advance to contact. Even moving forwards at a short run will not create that effect, I think.

As a cavalry item, however, it makes more sense and the speed of the cavalry charge will produce more air rushing through.

If the draco were adopted into the Roman cavalry first and then into the infantry, it might be plausible that the infantry version was weighted more towards to visual aspects and not so much the aural - and this is what Claudian is differentiating perhaps? Or perhaps, as suggested, this is all nothing more than a poetic fancy!

Pistores Seniores . . . that made me smile!
Francis Hagan

The Barcarii
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#13
(06-06-2017, 05:15 PM)Longovicium Wrote: 'Hovis', our own draco (named, I am told because the original one was going to be made out of a loaf tin . . .)

Ours is named 'Fumus' after 'Puff, the magic dragon'. Big Grin

(06-08-2017, 04:51 AM)Longovicium Wrote: I still wonder on the adoption of a cavalry standard into the ordered lines of the infantry  -- while I can see the totem's head and long falling silk body as being quite magnificent and awe-inspiring, I am struggling to see the windsock inflating to produce the eerie sound linked to the draco while the Roman infantry either remain still or advance to contact. Even moving forwards at a short run will not create that effect, I think.
As a cavalry item, however, it makes more sense and the speed of the cavalry charge will produce more air rushing through.

If cavalry and infantry stand still, there would be no difference. Infantry moving forward would be silent (until the war cry was raised) and would produce less noise than cavalry moving forward.

I must admit the whole hissing thing seems to defy any purpose. Maybe Nathan is correct and the whole thing is a style figure?
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#14
I don't have anything to add to the discussion, but here are some pics (full-size on Flickr) of the Deskford carnyx:

[Image: 34790369440_5d801704d0.jpg]
[Image: 35176894825_3b772dea5e.jpg]
[Image: 34790388510_035e9a4854.jpg]
[Image: 35137057686_41d5c9977b.jpg]
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#15
(06-08-2017, 12:59 PM)Robert Vermaat Wrote: If cavalry and infantry stand still, there would be no difference.

Yes, I think the draco would be need to be moving quite rapidly to make a noise (if it happened at all) - perhaps we could imagine infantry standard bearers waving or flourishing their dracos vigorously to get them to 'hiss', in the manner of a landsknecht flagbearer?
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