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Camel cataphracts?
#1
I was surfing the net and came upon a mod for RTW. Among the Parthian units was a camel cataphract. Not having studied the Parthians very much I was surprised to see this type. Obviously camels were used in specialized roles by the Persians and Parthians but were they actually used as shock cavalry?

I Googled camel cataphract and got a bunch of wargaming minature models but no historical information. What can you guys tell me? Smile
Paul Basar - Member of Wildfire Game\'s Project 0 AD
Wildfire Games - Project 0 A.D.
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#2
I suppose it is possible, but it doesn't seem to be likely to me. It wouldn't be a bad idea, since I have heard that horses generally don't like the smell of camels, and avoid them.

It seems that camels have a greater instinct for self-preservation than horses, and are reluctant to charge into a melee merely because some human wants them to. The Arabs knew / know about as much about camels as anyone, and the horse was their preferred battle steed from the time of Mohammed up to Lawrence of Arabia. Yes, camels can be ridden into a battlefield; and with rifles you might be able to use them for mobility around a battlefield; but the Arabs did not use them for shock combat. Camels were used on campaign as early as the later Assyrian period; there is a bas-relief of a couple of Arabs fleeing an Assyrian attack on a camel.
Felix Wang
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#3
That is what I thought, could be done but a camel is also far more ornery then a horse, would make its own decisions, like you said. The only use of the camel that I know of by the Parthians was at Carrhae where they were used to haul bundles of arrows for the horse archers.

One flaw would be the camel's height that would expose the animal's belly. And we all know how vulnerable Sarmatian and Parthian cataphracts were to having the stomachs of their horses stabbed, how much easier it would be with a camel when you don't have to duck down as much, if at all Tongue
Paul Basar - Member of Wildfire Game\'s Project 0 AD
Wildfire Games - Project 0 A.D.
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#4
CIL 3, 93 mentions a Roman military 'dromedarius', but I suspect that's not strictly speaking shock cavalry. Smile

Any background on what this 'camel cataphract' is based on? Could it mean armored troops mounted on dromedaries, or camelty archers?
Der Kessel ist voll Bärks!

Volker Bach
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#5
The Romans first encountered mounted camel troops at the battle of Magnesia in 190BC when they defeated the Seleucid king Antiochus III. Cataphract camels were also used by the Parthians at the battle of Nisibis in 217AD. The Romans defeated them by using caltrops because camels have very soft feet.

for other camel related articles I suggest the following:

Dabrowa.E., Dromedarii in the Roman Army, a note.
French. E., Nabatean Warrior Saddles. 1988 P.E.Q.
Fink.R.O., Roman Military Records on Papyrus. 1971.
Speidel.M., Nubia's Roman Garrison. A.N.R.W. II.10. 1988.
Sumner.G., Roman Camel Corps. Military Illustrated 90. November 1995

Hope this helps.

Graham.
"Is all that we see or seem but a dream within a dream" Edgar Allan Poe.

"Every brush-stroke is torn from my body" The Rebel, Tony Hancock.

"..I sweated in that damn dirty armor....TWENTY YEARS!', Charlton Heston, The Warlord.
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#6
Hi,

Hyginus has space for Camel Corps in his treatise on Roman castramentation. As far as I am aware no camp has been found which corresponds to its dimesions and layout. I would argue that this (and several other feature of the treatise) mean it was written with a specif eastern campaign in mind rather than castramentation in general.

Cheers

Murray
Murray K Dahm

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#7
I think Graham Sumner has a good picture of that.
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Ivan Perelló
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#8
I have no idea of the accuracy of this model from Navigator Miniatures, but here goes...

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aka Paul B, moderator
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#9
Good heavens, the poor camel!
Der Kessel ist voll Bärks!

Volker Bach
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#10
Does that camel have armour covering its eyes?
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#11
I can see ots eyes, so I suppose there are some holes for them. But no protection over the eyes afaik.
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#12
According to the depictions that I have seen about Armies of the area for that period, the image seems plausible to me.
Camel mounted "horse archers" were in that aresa from Bronze age.
So I will agree with the thought that Romans faced and used light Camelry units.
As for the Catafract Camelry it will take a millioner reanctror to try this thing!
By the way in the news yesterday there was a archive film showing the ex-Shah of Iran celebrations for 2000 years Persian civilization.
There was a parade with his Guardmen wearing uniforms reenacting ancient infantry and cavalry and my eye caught a couple of camels in the background. I could not detemin if it was the catafract version os the "elephant disguise version".
If any body cas contacts in his local T.V. news archive, perhaps it would worth a try.
Kind regards
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#13
These are referred to in Herodian IIRC and, again IIRC, the implication is that they are used in with the conventional catafracts.
Nik Gaukroger

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#14
Greetings,
remains of camels were found in Scythian graves and I think some Sarmatian....Now, given the Sarmatian liking for cataphractii...... :roll: :roll:
We had some jokes made on another forum about Artorius and his troop of Dromadarius based at Camelot in the Camel valley or maybe it was the Dribble Valley!!!
More commonly known as Artiodactyla of Camelidae... Tongue
regards
Arthes
Cristina
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The enemy is less likely to get wind of an advance of cavalry, if the orders for march were passed from mouth to mouth rather than announced by voice of herald, or public notice. Xenophon
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#15
Camels were used mainly to intmidate and upset the horses and thus break inexpensivly even the thundering catafract squadrons.
Romano-byzantines fighting Vandal Moorish allies had to dismount because they could not controll their horses.
When I watched a riding folk event as a tourist in Morrocco I saw the riders forcing the horses to charge at higher speed than the camels.
So I wonder:
Was the catafract camels a way to protect them from arrows?
Did they wore metal or fabric barding?
Was only the rider heavily armored?
Or it was a small group whose mission was to support the light camelry?.
It seems that it was a special weapon that had to be used at the critical moment on the critical sector to make effect.
Kind regards
Stefanos
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