Sarmatian Auxiliar from the Danube Limes
The costume shown here can be dated in the 2nd half of the 2nd century AD. In the beginning of 1st century AD some Sarmatian tribes, particularly Jazyges and Roxalani, were specifically encouraged by the Romans to settle in the Pannonian plain to serve as a buffer for the emerging Dacian Empire at the eastern Danube Limes. But it won’t stick to trade contacts but at the end of the 1st century AD the Sarmatian tribes raided the Danubian provinces. During this period, falls the devastation of Scythian settlements in Crimea (as Neapolis Skythike), which can be explained with the arrival of Sarmatian tribes. At the following Trajan’s Dacian Wars led by Domitian the Legio XXI Rapax was completely wiped out by the Jazyges. This naturally led to military retaliation as the Dacian Wars of emperor Trajan (98-117), and the Marcomanni wars of Marcus Aurelius (166-180) demonstrate.
But many Sarmatian warriors joined as auxiliaries to the legions and fought on the side of Rome. They were quite popular as auxiliaries, as in the Roman army lacked appropriate military units such as mounted archers (or heavily armored lancers, so called Cataphracts), which could effectively act against the hostile tribes.
A Sarmatian Auxiliar of this time wears his typical mounted-nomads-garb and doesn’t , distinguish himself from those nomads against whom he fought. The clothing consists of riding-breeches, which stuck in short boots, stabilized by leatherbelts. The extraordinary headgear is made after a picture of the Crimea. A red woolen cloak, which is held by a Roman fibula, serves as all-round weather protection and represents – like the red scarf – a concession to Roman military practice.
The protective armament consists of a chain-mail worn over a woolen tunic. This form of protective armament (probably developed and used in the 4th centrury BC by the Celts) came in use in the Roman army as early as the 3rd century BC. Among the Sarmatians it first appeared the beginning of the Common Era and then slowly replaced the previously common scale armor. The protection is completed by a so called Skeleton-Helmet that in many aspects – as at the same time emerging riveted plate helmets (Spangenhelme) – represents an innovation: because it is made of several parts and not only manufactured from one piece of metal, it can be produced faster and cheaper and is easier to repair. An oval rider shield adds the protection of the warrior, the painting can be recognized as a reference to the Roman Empire.
An auxiliary bore several weapons with him, especially the dreaded reflex composite bow. The arrows which have been fired were sometimes stored in several leather or cowhide quivers, which were worn on a belt or shoulder strap. As melee weapons the warrior is carrying a dagger with the characteristic thigh-pendant for this time and a short sword with a typical Sarmatian ring pommel. A long thrusting spear could have added the equipment of a mounted warrior.
Typical of the Sarmatians at this time was the mustache and the semi-long hair corresponding to the fashion of nomads.
The fort Matrica was a Roman military camp, which secured as a cohort- or horsemen-fort a part of the Pannonian Danube limes (Limes Pannonicus). The archaeologically only partially examined plant was built near the Danube west bank. It lay on a very swampy area in ancient south of Dunafüred, today belonging municipality to the city Százhalombatta in Hungarian Pest County. Of particular importance for the Pannonian research are the large-scale excavations in the southern necropolis and the relatively high stock of discovered inscriptions.
1941 the remains of a Vicus were discovered in the course of a sewer construction project for flood protection of Dunafüred. With the assistance of archaeologists the findings were properly documented in 1942. During the war in 1943 south of the fort unsystematic soundings were made that could be evaluated and updated until Mócsy excavated in 1953 and also 1955 in Százhalombatta-Dunafüred. In the southern part of the valley, near the ancient sites, a large area has been built with an oil refinery from November 1963. In addition, between refinery and fort arose two large reservoirs. The archaeologist Judit Topal estimated that in the area around 800 to 1000 Roman graves without any investigation became victim of the construction works.
1963 the archaeologist Edit B. Thomas (1923-1988) worked at the excavation of a V-profile ditch (fossa fastigata) in the south of the fort. Her work was followed by rescue excavations in the vicus and the excavation of the fort bath initially headed by Sági, and from 1971 under Judit Topal. Topal was until 1974 also responsible for studies in Early and High Imperial cemetery with 213 graves. In grave 14 a Roman ring pommel sword type Biborski II was found, which served as a template for the replica of the ring pommel sword of our presentation of an Auxiliar.
Further excavations in the fort area itself took place in 1993 and from 1995 to 1997 by the archaeologist Péter Kovács (* 1969). Apart from the major excavations also repeatedly minor rescue excavations had to be undertaken.
Here you find the equipments of the auxiliar.
Judit Topál: The Southern Cemetery of Matrica (Százhalombatta-Dunafüred), Akademiai Kiado, Budapest 1981
Deutsches Archäologisches Institut u.a. (Hg.) (2007): Im Zeichen des Goldenen Greifen. Königsgräber der Skythen, 154.
Krosigk, Hildegard Gräfin Schwerin von (2005): „Über ‘Magische Schwertperlen’ bei Sarmaten, Alanen und Abchasen.“ Prähistorische Zeitschrift 80 (1): 110-133.
Schiltz, Véronique (2001): Casque à lamelles. In: Dies. (Hg.): L’Or des Amazones. Peuples nomades entre Asie et Europe, 248.
Seipel, W. (Hg.) (2009): Gold der Steppe. Fürstenschätze jenseits des Alexanderreichs.
Simoneko, Aleksandr V. (1991): Der linkshändige Sarmatenfürst von Porogi und die vornehme Dame aus dem Nogajčik-Kurgan. In: Rolle, Renate, Micheal Müller-Wille und Kurt Schietzel (Hg.): Gold der Steppe. Archäologie der Ukraine. Schleswig: Archäologisches Landesmuseum der Christian-Albrechts-Universität, 215-220.
Simonenko, Aleksandr V. (2001): Bewaffnung und Kriegswesen der Sarmaten und späten Skythen im nördlichen Schwarzmeergebiet. Eurasia Antiqua 7: 187-326.
Tolstikov, Vladimir (2013): Pantikapaion. Die Hauptstadt des Bosporanischen Reiches. In: LVR- LandesMuseum Bonn (Hg.): 214-233.
Trofimova, Anna A. (Hg.) (2007): Greeks on the Black Sea. Los Angeles: Getty Publications.
Wieczorek, A. und C. Lind (Hg.) (2007): Ursprünge der Seidenstraße, 295.
Zajcev, Jurij (2013): Neapolis Skythike. In: LVR/LandesMuseum Bonn (Hg.): Krim. Goldene Insel im Schwarzen Meer. Griechen – Skythen – Goten, 252-259.