Try Amazon Audible Plus

Create an Amazon Business Account

Sarmatian Lancer in a Wall Painting, Kerch, Bosporan, 2nd Century AD
Crypt 1873

The enormous length of the Sarmatian lance is perhaps exaggerated in this 19th-century copy of a 2nd-century AD tomb painting from Kerch. However, in his experiments reconstructing Roman horsemanship, Marcus Junkelmann (Die Reiter Roms, III, p.145+) demonstrated that lances of up to 4.5m length were still manageable on horse-back. The lancer's armour appears to be of mail but could be scale, and is worn over tightly fitting trousers and shirt. No helmets have so far been found that match this severe conical shape. The horse's mane is 'crenellated' in steppe nomad fashion. In such wall-paintings the contus is never seen in combination with a shield, though sometimes with bow. One Bosporan wall painting shows a brown loop hanging from a contus. This might be a leather wrist strap, which also served as a means of slinging the clumsy lance over one shoulder in later Cossack fashion. However, the poet Valerius Flaccus (6.164-5) mentions 'the Sarmatian who puts a rein upon his huge lance [ingentis frenator Sarmata conti]'. This probably refers to the characteristic manner in which the rider held both reins and lance in his left hand. (After Rostovtsev)
Source: p.23, The Sarmatians 600 BC-AD 450 by Richard Brzezinski (Author), Gerry Embleton (Illustrator)

Double crypt 1873

One of the important monuments of the Bosporan culture of the first centuries of the new era is a double crypt, opened on the northern slope of Mount Mithridates in Kerch (ancient Panticapaeum, the capital of the Bosporan kingdom) in 1873. This structure consists of two burial chambers connected by a narrow passage. The painting of both has a pronounced decorative or, as it is also called, floral character. M.I. Rostovtsev dated the crypt in 1873 to the end of the 1st - first half of the 2nd century AD.

On the south wall, on the right side of it, there is a scene of a battle between two mounted warriors. It is won by the right rider, riding on a horse with a lance in his hands, he is dressed in a helmet and lamellar armour. The left rider is clearly struck to death, the broken spear falling from his hands. The bodies of two killed warriors are visible between the horses’ legs, most likely enemies of the main character, i.e. the victorious rider. Below the image of the left rider, you can also see the head of a griffin with an eagle beak and a two-handed kanfar-type bowl.

Sources: Text, Image

See also Sarmatians in a painted tomb of the Crimean Bosporus, Crypt 1872, 2nd Century AD
Other Illustrations of Scythian, Cimmerian, Thracian, Sarmatian & Bosphoran Costume and Soldiers from the Black Sea Region
Ancient Illustrations of Costume and Soldiers

Free Web Hosting