Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Plutarch's Wars:north of the Danube

I've covered some of the later forces of the various trans-Danubian people so here are some from an earlier period.
The people who occupied modern Rumania are known in various sources as the Getae and the Dacians with others such as the Basternae mentioned. The whole business is complex and since the ancient sources dont agree about who was who it is difficult for modern historians to be sure. The Dacians and Getae may have been one and the same or neighbours or some other combination. The Bastarnae are described both as Celts and as Germans.
A variety of ancient sources the interaction between Rome and this group of peoples. The first major conflict began just before the Third Mithridatic War and merged into it, the Bastarnae providing troops for Mithridates.
For the various wars leading up to Trajan's conquest in the early 2nd century AD there are a number of sources including Strabo, Livy, Tacitus, Suetonius, Cassius Dio.
One source for the appearance of the Getae (and the 'barbarised' Greeks of the Black Sea coast) is Ovid, a poet who was exiled to Tomis by Augustus - possibly for getting over-friendly with the emperor's grand-daughter. He describes the Getae having untrimmed hair and beards and that they kept off the cold with pelts and loose trousers (Among the Getae). This fits pretty well with the images we have of the Dacians and possibly their allies. Considering how few pictures we have of some peoples, we are rather spoilt to have both Trajan's Column and the Adamklissi monument. One always has to be careful about taking everything at face value, but they are still rather useful.
I have a few of Old Glory 15s Dacians. The normal packs include a mix of shielded figures with javelins and those carrying a falx. They are also either bare chested or wearing a tunic.
These are some I painted:

So far, I have only finished the bare chested variants. I shall be using these as Bastarnae to make identification easier.

One possibly helpful painting source is St Jerome who describes the Getae as being yellow haired. He may have been describing the Goths so it isn't that certain. Translations disagree about the whole description - some say the Getae are ruddy (presumably complexion) and yellow haired whereas others take it as being red and yellow haired.

A note of caution about red hair. Obviously there are people today who we describe as red-haired and there   jkl; will have been people with the same colouration in ancient times. However, I have seen a theory that in many cases the word translated as 'red' - purros in Greek - could mean a lightish brown or reddish blond in many cases. I find the development of colour words interesting - brown is commonly a late word to enter a language.

I've also done a few Old Glory 15s Sarmatians. These are pretty much as on the Tryphon tombstone though with some armoured horses. Armour may have been rawhide as in this amazing survival now at the NY Met - Strabo describes the Roxolani using this material. Pausanias describes a suit of armour made from horse hoof. If not lacquered, this may not have been too different in colour to rawhide although perhaps more shiny and it can have a slight greenish hue.