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Roxolani and Iaziges
#91
Hi, Michael

Indeed it would be informative to find something, anything, on Iazyge cavalry tactics. That's what Holly, Childeric, and Rodger, are also looking for.

To finish up on the proposed close interaction between the Iaz and Roxolani at the time of the Marcomannic Wars, we should remember the Roxolani were not in Pannonia. A number of Germanic tribes appear to be between them. As we both mentioned, one of the last official acts of Marcus Aurelius was giving the Iazyges permission to trade with the Roxolani, who obviously were still down in Walachia.

   
The c. AD 125 map (shown above) places the Roxolani on the Walachian Plain and the Iaz in Pannonia. Between them we find an entire mountain range-- the Carpathians... plus the Very Scary heights of Transylvania. 

The illustration below shows the position of the Iazyges at the culmination of Marcomannic Wars, and we see Germanic tribes between them and the Roxolani to the southeast. (the latter not shown because they were on vacation).
   

Trading doesn't necessarily mean both tribes held the same culture or customs. The Altai group traded with the Persians and Chinese yet didn't become "Chinese-ized"... or whatever. Big Grin  We see other differences in the two tribes under discussion. Perhaps the best indicators of differing cavalry tactics would be their swords. The Iayage sword was short, perhaps around 70 to 80 cm. The blade was broad, and the grip was also short. The ring pommel was made by forging an extra-long tang then bending it in a circle. This sword was primarily used for stabbing, much like the Scythian version and also the Roman gladius. On the other hand, the Roxolani Type 1 sword was designed expressly for slashing, actually for slashing at a mounted opponent who might be as much as five feet to one side, perhaps as each warrior passed each other. The sword had a long grip, used one-handed or with both hands, since the weight of the sword was twice that of an Iaz example. The Type 1 sword was a minimum of 100 cm, and some also reached 1.5 meters in length. They were huge!-- but they had excellent balance. I see no point in illustrating the Iazyage sword again, and the Type 1 Sarmatian Sword has been shown on other threads.

I'm sure there were other differences. The Iazages were recorded as excellent cavalrymen, but they were never mentioned as wearing heavy armor. They did use a contus, because I've recently seen an illustrated Iaz grave with the short sword and what seems likely to be a contus-head.

When I read the Roxolani were like the Whomever (perhaps the Historiae Augustae's famous list of 16 tribes inserted here), I am exceedingly leery. To Roman and Greek authors, all the steppe tribes were almost the same-- ie: they lived in yurts or wagons (they were too lazy to build a house); they never ate grain but ate meat and drank milk (they were just like carnivorous animals); and they attacked you from the back of a horse (they were too cowardly to jump down and fight you on the ground). Scythians and Sarmatians were the worst plundering, inhuman, and barbaric people on earth... until they had something you wanted. Cool
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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#92
 Hi Alan, you make a very good point in regards to the  type of swords found in mid 2nd century Iazyges graves  and the use of a slashng type of sword for heavy cavalry which was a key feature of a Roxolani cavalryman. As to armour, to a people who were constantly short of iron on the Hungarian plain I suppose you could always go back to basics and use horse hooves like Pausinius mentioned or rawhide bands fastened at the front  like the suit on the base of Trajan's column. If some as you suggested used the contus then I suppose it depended on the type of wood available. Phil Sidnell in his book Warhorse mentions that fir wood was used by many Sarmatians because of its availability but it could shatter into long splinters that would be a danger to horse and rider.

 In regards to trading between the two tribal groups I agree with you that there must have been certain differences in customs or culture. The fact that during the Dacian wars the Iazyges fought on the Roman side and the Roxolani on the Dacian side meant that technically they were enemies when it suited. But even Sarmatta pointed out that the Hungarian plain or the southern areas which were basically marshy wetlands back then were deficient in iron for weapons, especially arrow heads as a lot of Iazyges arrowheads are bone or antler, cooking utensils, wheel rims etc, stone for building materials, fuel, timber, salt and grain. Salt especially or lack of it could devastate the pastoralist herds of livestock and horses which makes me think the groups who controlled the regions around the Caspian and Aral Seas would have done alright out of the salt trade. So the Iazyges would have been keen to trade for these essential items as well as a few luxuries.

 As to the prejudices of the Historia Augustae well that goes for the Chinese sources as well. I think Sarmatians liked a bit of wine and grain, especially millet for both themselves and their prized riding horses but probably not for their working horses. As for meat and milk, why not if you had cattle, sheep and goats aplenty. I am sure herbs were used in their cauldrons to spice up a bit of plain mutton. Portable housing, why not if you were a pastoralist. They probably were criticized for wearing trousers as well but in the long run other than the Scottish kilt, which men wear skirts or togas these days. Trousers rule.

 In regards to the distance between the Iazyges in Pannonia and the Roxolani in Wallachia there are a few important factors to consider. After the Dacian wars Trajan set up a Roman presence north of the Danube, mainly to keep an eye on the Roxolani who still used the land for grazing as it was not suitable for agriculture and was basically an extension of the steppe, at least back then and to maintain a corridor to the new province of Dacia which included the Oltenia, land the Iazyges thought would be ceded to them for their support of Rome during the Dacian wars . However when Hadrian became emperor he reduced the stipend paid to the Roxolani and apparently both the Iazyges and the Roxolani rose up and the Roxolani destroyed some Roman forts in Wallachia. In response Hadrian ceded all the land east of the Olt River to the Roxolani  and increased their stipend as long as the Roxolani king ensured stability, which he didn't as not long after he was deposed and spent the rest of his life in exile at Salona on the Adriatic coast.

 In regard to the Iazyges in the west Trajan did not incorporate the land west of the Transylvania mountains into the province of Dacia in 106 AD but according to Andras Mocsy in his book Pannonia and Upper Moesia he was happy to leave it to the Iazyges even though there was a strong Dacian presence. Mocsy thinks that this was to appease the Iazyges for not getting Oltenia. So the Iazyges dominated the region between the Tizsa and Oltenia and the narrow corridor between Dacia and the rest of the empire was flanked on both sides by Roxolani and Iazyges.

 The Olt line of forts and roads would run on the western bank of the Olt for 150 miles, but Derek Williams in his book The Reach of Rome thinks that Hadrian probably made a mistake by choosing this bank as the right or eastern bank of the river was higher so it was hard to keep an eye on  enemy movements which would make use of the valleys cut by various south flowing rivers and wetlands between the Olt and the Tisza. It would have been difficult to evade patrols but not impossible like any good smugglers. There would have been impassable mountains in the north but mainly foothills and plains as you got closer to the Danube and I don't know when the situation improved for the Romans but I think the Sarmatians had free rein in Dacia for a large part of the Marcomannic wars anyway.I don't think big river systems and their lakes and wetland areas have ever been an impediment for any determined steppe people from the Volga to the Danube anyway as they seemed to live on the various river systems to water their herds and spend the winters there. Although there are many theories on the origin of the name Roxolani or (Rhos)kalans one that sticks to my mind is Rhos which was an ancient Greek word for the Volga River (Volga Alans) and was probably a loan word from the Scythian word Rha for river. Smile Reading material I am basing my post on are
The Reach of Rome by Derek Williams
Pannonia and Upper Moesia by Andras Mocsy
Rome and the Nomads by Roger Batty
Warhorse by Phillip Sidnell
Regards
Michael Kerr
Michael Kerr
"You can conquer an empire from the back of a horse but you can't rule it from one"
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#93
Michael,

Thanks for elaborating on some the points I last mentioned. I'd also noticed that Iazage graves in Pannonia contained bone arrowheads, not iron ones. (And at this time they should have been iron, not bronze). Even their consistent use of short swords might indicate a design produced in an iron-poor area, although I still think they reflected a different style of cavalry warfare than the Roxolani. Obviously, their need for iron-- and particularly salt, as you mentioned-- shows their desire or even basic need to trade with a Sarmatian group which had access to everything within the Northern trade network... a trade road that actually still went down into India. The Iaz were fond of jewelry designed with carnelian beads and carbuncles and (more rarely) Bactrian and Indic stones.

This lack of iron could manifest in leather armor, as you pointed out and illustrated earlier. Leather armor seems quite logical in the Iazage's case. As an aside, if anyone following this thread might consider becoming an Iazage re-enactor, leather is a far cheaper option than the heavy cataphract-styled versions used by the Roxolani. (My entire Roxolanus kit ended up far more expensive than the average Roman one, the cost actually staggering.) Also, I believe one or two arrow makers are now offering bone heads, perfect for the "modern Iazage."

As to the origin of the name Roxolani (aka Rhoxalani) the older spelling indicates the same structure as the nomen of Alexander's wife, who was Bactrian. (Mallory notes the closest language to Alanic was Sogdian, and the Bactrians apparently spoke Sogdian. Also, this fact alludes to the geographical area originally inhabited by the Alans.) I would rather accept that explanation over others, especially the hypothetical "Rus" version. This subject might be best discussed in "Origin of the Alans," the thread I threatened to initiate last week. I think I go for it with your aid; and I hope other RATers might join the "party." Big 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
Reply
#94
Hi everyone! Sorry for disappearing; went on a short roadtrip with my family last weekend which somehow threw me off for a whole week.

@Alanus

- Believe me, I am well aware of your curmudgeon-ness. But good point about the "Barbaricum" paper. I also wish it had included dates for each example. 

- On the sword in the British Museum: seen it before.

- Could you link me to the "illustrated Iaz grave with the short sword and what seems likely to be a contus-head"?

@Michael

- I also would like to see "more archaeological evidence to ascertain the weaponry of the Iazyges during the period up to the Marcomannic Wars." (You may have already read this paper on Iazyges swords, but I feel I should throw it out there for everyone.)

- On arrowheads: have you read the paper "Sarmatian Archery in the Carpathian Basin" by Istvanovits and Kulcsar? It mentions several finds of bronze arrowheads, and potentially one iron one.

- Also, great sources on Pannonia! You should add those to the Sarmatiana thread. 
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#95
Hi, Holly

Thanks for the link on Archery in the Carpathian basin. The authors did a good job, finally recognizing there were two styles of bows in use, the old Scythian "Cupid" one, and the newer so-called "Hunnic" model. My bows are asymmetrical "Hunnic" models. The earliest of these bows show up in the Sargatskya culture east of the Urals, late 3rd century BC. The bow with siyahs then traveled east into Saka territory (maybe the Massagetae branch). From there it was adopted by the Yuezhi and Wusun, situated just east to the Xiongnu (the Huns). So "Hunnic bow" is a misnomer. The authors of the Archery paper noted the new bow used larger arrowheads. My collection includes about 30 (mostly socketed and trilobate) small bronze and iron ones (used with the Scythian-early Saka bow) but only a half dozen larger ones (all iron and tanged). The authors are right on the money.

The "Hunnic" bow followed a well-traced trajectory. It shows up in the southern Takla Makan (western China), then on the Orlat battle plaques (Sogdiana, but pictured with the Yuezhi and dated c. 100 BC to the beginning of the Common Era). Then the new bow shows up on wall paintings in the Bosphorus (as used by the Siraces). Not doubt, the Roxolani used them since they arrived from the same eastern culture. All the eastern examples, and probably 90% of all of them, were asymmetrical) Check out the last few posts on the "Origin of the Alans" thread. The Orlat scenes are shown, the bows tilted top-forward, exactly how you shoot an asymmetrical.

I saw that lance-head along with the Iazage sword illustration about 3 weeks ago. I tried finding it again with no luck. The head seemed larger than a hasta head, so I believe it went to a contus.

By the way, the strength of the "improved" bow's siyahs does not require bone plates. A straight-grained hardwood like cherry or walnut can be used. For this reason, a good number of bows have decomposed into the archaeological stratae. I think Simonenko was unaware of this. We can equate the bone siyahs with a Rolls-Royce model and the plain wood ones with a Volkswagon. Here is a drawing of the Niya bow (Takla Makan, China) and its quiver/case, and the same style shown on the Orlat buckle. These are exactly like the bows/quiver/cases depicted on the walls of Bosphoran catacomb graves (attributed to the Siraces).
   

Here is a Yuezhi hunter with the "Hunnic" bow. Notice how he tilts it, exactly what you have to do when using an asymmetrical.
   
 
Glad to have you back, Big 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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