Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Horse Armour - Cataphracts

Idem and M. M. Mambetullaev, “Ostrak iz Khumbuz-tepe” (An ostracon from Khumbuz Tepe), in Pamyatniki istorii i literatury Vostoka (Monuments of the history and literature of the Orient) Moscow, 1986.

Archaeological art - The armored horse

Historically, the steppe nomads of western Central Asia are believed to be among the first to adopt horse amour (Cataphracts) for their cavalry. The Aral Sea and Khwarezm regions in particular being significant in fostering the development of Cataphract-like cavalry during the 1st millennium BC.

Classical sources seem to refer to two types of Armour being known to the Sakasand the Massagetae (the original steppe peoples) of Central Asia. One type was scale armor described as “coats of iron scales resembling fish scales” (Herodotus) the other a lamellar armor “the coat of armor made of iron plates fastened to each other in rows” (Q. Curtius Rufus). Herodotos also stating that the Massagetae of the Aral region used war-horses with bronze breastplates.

Archaeological finds such as this representation above showing a terracotta fragment found at Khumbuz-Tepe, in the lower Amu-Darya valley, late IV or early III BC confirming these ancient written sources.


Herodotus, (born 484 B.C?, Halicarnassus, Asia Minor [now Bodrum, Turkey —died
430–420 B.C), Greek author of the first great narrative history produced in the ancient world, "The Histories". The Greek researcher and storyteller Herodotus of Halicarnassus was the world's first historian. In The Histories, he describes the the History of the Greco-Persian Wars from the expansion of the Achaemenid empire under its Kings Cyrus the Great, Cambyses and Darius I the Great, culminating in King Xerxes' expedition in 480 BCE against the Greeks, which met with disaster in the naval engagement at Salamis and the battles at Plataea and Mycale. Herodotus' remarkable book also contains excellent ethnographic descriptions of the peoples that the Persians conquered, fairy tales, gossip, legends, and interesting facts.

Quintius Curtius Rufus, (born?, died 53 CE): Roman senator and author of an important History of Alexander the Great. Originally, the History of Alexander consisted of ten books, and although the work was very popular in the Middle Ages (it is known from more than a hundred manuscripts), the first two books are now lost. They contained the events between the accession of Alexander and the death of the Persian commander Memnon of Rhodes. The third manuscript starts when the Macedonian army marched through Phrygia, in the spring of 333 BCE; the last book ends with the burial of Alexander's body in a golden sarcophagus, which was later brought to Egypt in 331 BCE.