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Cataphractarii! (3) – The cataphract cavalry in a period of 2,500 years

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Continued from Part 2

Mongol 3

Mongol cataphract, 13th century.

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By Periklis  Deligiannis

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Cataphractarii! (2) – The cataphract cavalry in a period of 2,500 years

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Continued from Part I

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sassanid cataphract

A superb restoration of a Sassanid  cataphract (credit: Total War: Rome II, Sega).

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By Periklis  Deligiannis

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Cataphractarii! (I) – The cataphract cavalry in a period of 2,500 years

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cataphract

The onslaught of a unit of Sassanid or Central Asia Iranian  cataphracts in a marvelous artwork by Mariusz Kozik (credit: Creative Assembly Sega/Mariusz Kozik).

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By Periklis  Deligiannis

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The following text is a small part of the Introduction of my study: Kataphraktarii and Clibanarii: Late Roman full-armoured cavalry. Along with it I give a gallery of cataphracts from most of the ethnic and cultural regions in which their use was spread over a period of two and a half millennia.
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The first cataphracts or clibanarii were rather an invention of the Iranian Saka tribes of the Central Asian steppes – being the ancestors of the Sarmatians, the Scythians, the Dahae and the Massagetae among many others – or the non-Iranian but Indo-European as well Tocharians of the same steppes that is the ancestors of the Wu Sun and the Yuezhi of the Chinese chronicles. The term  cataphract is a Greek word (κατάφρακτος) meaning the ‘fully armoured’ warrior and was adopted by the Romans (catafractarius) while the other almost synonymous Latin term clibanarius is actually the Latinized and originally Iranian term grivpanvar which is possibly analyzed as grivapanabara, meaning the bearer of neck-guard plates being a feature of the early cataphracts. I prefer to use the more correct verbal type kataphraktos which is closer to the original Greek word κατάφρακτος but in this abstract I will use the Latin-originated term cataphract in order not to confuse the reader.

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ON THE HELMET TYPES OF THE LATE ROMAN CAVALRY

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By Periklis Deligiannis

with draco(Fectio)
A Draconarius of the Late Roman period with a Persian-origin type of helmet, in a restoration by the British Historical Association Comitatus (Draco made by the German artisan Stefan Jaroschinski). He is a standard-bearer, bearing the Sarmatian standard of the Dragon, adopted by the Romans as well.
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During the Late Imperial period, the cavalry gradually became the main Weapon of the Roman army supplanting the legions, the glory of Rome. This development was due to the influence of the Iranian peoples (Sarmatians and Persians) and especially to the Roman need to confront the enemies who had a strong cavalry which could defeat the legions (Sarmatians, Sassanids, Goths, Huns). The Roman cavalry helmets of the period belonged to the following four major groups.

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LATE GALLO-ROMAN

classic

The classic Gallo-Roman type of a Middle Empire legionnaire (www.romancoins.info)
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