Some Remarks on the Origins and Construction of the Roman Military Saddle
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In the first century BC a new form of saddle was adopted by the Roman army. It has been claimed that this so-called 'four horned saddle' was a Celtic invention, though there is evidence to suggest a Central Asian origin. The earliest representations of it came not only from Roman Gaul, but also from the Sarmatian-influenced Bosporan kingdom and from Syria. A functional analysis of the saddle suggests that it had developed to suit the needs of warriors on the Eurasian steppe - especially horse archers and heavy cavalry. The rear 'horns' provided the support needed by their long, two handed lances, while the front horns prevented the rider from somersaulting out of the saddle backwards, or sliding forwards on the horse's neck, and served to hold the reins when the archer was busy shooting. Components of Roman saddles recovered by excavation and experience with modern replicas allow conclusions concerning the shape of the saddle tree, the lining materials employed under the saddle, and how the breast, haunch and girth straps were fitted to the saddle.
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