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An extract from The Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome
by Phil Barker & Ian Heath

84, 85 & 86.      DACIAN INFANTRY

[Based on Trajan's column] [Based on the Adamklissi friezes Tropaeum Traiani] [Based on Trajan's column]
The Dacians were of Thracian extraction, but unlike the earlier Thracians, fought almost entirely on foot. A very few cavalry similar to 84 are illustrated on Trajan's Column, but they generally relied on Sarmatian allies for that arm. The most common troop type was that represented by 84, armed with javelins and a short sword and carrying an oval shield as his only protection. He wears a tunic split at the sides and neck, not too baggy trousers tied in at the ankle, and would have a short cloak if it had not been left off to show the split neck.

86 represents the next most common type, the foot archer. His ornamented quiver comes from the foot of Trajan's Column, as do the shields shown as 84c and d. The shield carried by 84 and 84a and b are shown carried by Dacians in the Column's battle scenes.

However, the Dacian weapon most feared by the Romans was the two-handed Falx wielded by 85, capable of taking off an arm or leg at a single blow. There were several variants of this weapon with slightly different handles, some of them longer and some slightly curved so that the whole weapon was slightly "S" shaped. 85 himself is a Bastarnian, a sub-tribe of the Dacians proper. This is shown by his skull cap, baggier trousers and bare chest. This does not mean that the other Dacians did not use the Falx, they did, but Bastarnae feature in some of the most exciting sculptured scenes of the campaign at Adanklissi.

Little can be said about possible colours except that the Thracians liked checks and stripes, and that Dacian shield patterns are somewhat like those of the Gauls, who also liked checks and stripes.

Next: 87. DACIAN ELDER WITH STANDARD in Armies and Enemies of Ancient Rome by Phil Barker and Ian Heath

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