History of Samnium and Samnites - Samnite warriors and weapons.




Second Part



With the name of "rod weapons" we includ all the weapons made with a long handle, used as a pointed or throw. The necropolis of Campovalano has provided a large quantity of this material, all made with iron and with an abundant typology. The "irons" are cut from a slab, a portion of which is rounded to form a cannon, that is the space where to place the top of a wooden rod.
The other part of slab, forged differently in width, finished with a tip and it is always ribbed. Another metal element, found on some of these weapons, is a tapered pointed cap that fits at the bottom of the wooden rod (spear-butt or sauroter). It serves to pierce the weapon into the ground in moments of respite or possibly to replace, as weapon, the tip if the rod had broken.
The discovery "in situ" of metal elements in connection with the pointed caps, allowed to determine the length of the weapons in almost two meters; a specimen, measured slightly longer than a meter, was found in a children's burial.
Spearhead. (A)(B) and
(C) from Boiano, (D) from Trivento.
Some of this "irons" are very similar to spears present on the Capestrano Warrior statue and on the Guardiagrele stele. The shorter length of the carved spears is due to the demands of representation. The shapes of the irons of Campovalano can be traced to two types: expanded willow leaf shape (as those figured monuments), elongated or triangular shape. The first, much more common, with cannon connection are 30 centimeters long, although some specimens reach an half meter; the second are close to half meter. Some of expanded willow leaf shape irons from Campovalano be reflected by a specimen found in the necropolis of San Ginesio and others, from museum of Ancona, of which is unknown origins.
Some specimens of axe of Capestrano warrior are found in the necropolis of Marche but it is unknown to the necropolis of southern Abruzzo (Citeriore). Vice versa, some specimens was found to Alfedena.
  Iron axe
Iron axe from Alfedena.
This fact suggests that the axe was more a real weapon than a symbol of command. No helmets similar to the singular headgear of Warrior were found. The helmets found respectively at Campovalano and Torricella Peligna are, typologically, of Greek derivation, if not even represent imported objects. The first, despite some peculiarities, may

Helmet of Corithian workmanship.
Campovalano - VII century b.C.

Helmet with caprid cervix.
Torric. Peligna - VI century b.C.
be attributed to the type of Corinthian helmet, which is undoubtedly an admirable copy; the second, which certainly date to the IV century on the basis of the rest of the grave good, is related to a numbered series that from Marche - Numana, Novilara, Pergola - extends to the nearby Emilia (Forlì), to Umbria (Città di Castello), coming to the province of Varese (Sesto Calende) to Tirolo and Carniola.
The derivation of the type with, on the cap, a stylization of a caprid cervix, is Greek. The manufacturing could be picena. Of probable Greeks import are also the two helmets of Leopardi Collection of Penne; while little is known about an helmet discovered at necropolis of Campo Giove nearby Sulmona. Indeed it was not possible to determine the shape because of the extremely fragmentary state.
From necropolis of Alfedena come two helmets, respectively cylindrical and troncocone-shaped, obtained from a thick bronze plate: there are traces of iron clasps at the edges combined together.
It is evident that they had the protective function of the arm and forearm and therefore may be treated as "manicae", not unknown to Greek and Roman armor, as characteristics of the barbarian warriors.
According to the description of the grave goods of Alfedena, they were found together with a pair of discs type "kardiophylakes".
Alfedena always found a "collar" of bronze plate in various specimens, considerably thick but elastic. This may call to mind the collar of Capestrano warrior but, however, for the presence of the pendant, it was considered an ornament rather than a defense.

Collar of bronze plate.
Regarding the armor discs type "kardiophylakes", the abundance of findings, occurred in a particularly varied area ranging from Palestrina to Faliscan Capena, to Vetulonia, to Pisa and Picenan Numana, but especially to Abruzzo, has long attracted the interest of archaeologists.
Kardiophilax from Paglieta

Kardiophylax from Paglieta (CH).
Eight pairs of "kardiophylax" come from Abruzzo. They are found in the old excavations of the necropolis of Alfedena. One pair come from Torricella Peligna; another from Pagliera, although fragmented but stylistically the most significant; the last come from the necropolis of Traccole at the slopes of Monte Saraceno dominatig the complex of archaeological area of Piatrabbondante, in Molise. There are also fragments of a disc in the little antiquarium of San Clemente at Casauria and about another disc, purchased around 1880 in Civitella del Tronto, there is only notes because the copy went missing; two discs, finally, are kept in small armory of Castel Sant'Angelo in Rome and, for the similarity
with the discs of Alfedena, might be considered they are coming from the same area. The armour is essentially composed of two circular elements linked by a bandolier rise above right shoulder and a belt, perhaps of leather, which is fastened on the left side. Each element of the circular armour consists of two convex discs of identical size. The first in iron - sometimes it is a ring instead of the disc - serves as a support to another disc in bronze.
Traces of cloth found on the inside disc may belong to a padding to cushion the contact with the body. Each disc presents details of mounting of "bandolier" on two opposite ends of a diameter, as was noted in Capestrano warrior. In some specimens of Abruzzo they consist of rectangular plates jointed hinge and stop by a bronze strip that rests on a iron base and it is bordered by a little frame also made of iron. In an other specimens the connection to the bandolier are represented by a hinge on a disc and, on the other, by a hook. In opposition to both disc there are mobile rings for belt. The bandolier is always composed of three plates: the lateral plane and the central curve, jointed hinge. The bandolier is hinged at one end to a disc and united to another by hooks. With some exceptions, a special engraving always appears on the discs, as are coming from Abruzzo as from other sources.
  Another kardiophylax Paglieta type
from Paglieta (CH).
The name "Quadruped Gooseneck" is justified by an animal figures (engraved on disc) with double protome and a design where the elegant curve of the neck and tail (whose end is another head) are evident and snouts are prolonged into a sort of open beak. Supporting the body long

Kardiophilax from Alfedena.
and slender hoofs ending in a kind of hooks. The design is sometimes even more elaborate: another two heads, almost lyre-shaped, overlap with each of the two protomes; the bills have tripled assuming various styles etc.
These figures, in the range of the exclusive Abruzzian discoveries, both as an heraldic pieces like an apotropaic symbols, show all units of figurative language, although different forms. Instead, technique and style is substantially different from those of other origins that involved suggests diversity of craft traditions. These figures are similar for Abruzzian discs but are markedly different from Lazian, Faliscan, Etruscan and Picenan discs.
The origin of the Abruzzian discs indicates, with remarkable accuracy, the lands situated along the river Sangro and its tributaries. The stele of Guardiagrele, localized in the same area, represents the statue wearing that particular type of disc.
Outside this area could be indicated in Abruzzo other representations of discs as Capestrano warrior's "kardiophylax" but also the disc fragments of Antiquarium of San Clemente at Casauria, or the disc of Civitella del Tronto or the pair of discs of necropolis of Monte Saraceno at Pietrabbondante.
Elsewhere, both in Abruzzo than in Molise, there is no notes of any discovery of this defense.
However, each of these examples cited differs somewhat from the discs discovered in the area of river Sangro. The two discs that protect the chest of the Warrior
Kardiophylax from Casacanditella
are without episema; the fragment of San Clemente presents technical differences, stylistic and even footage against "Sangritan" discs - with which it has still some resemblance - but his testimony is undermined by the fact that we do not know the location of discovery, being received in the storage location from a private collection.
Kardiophylax from Pietrabbondante.
Kardiophylax from
Even the disc purchased by Guidubaldi in Civitella del Tronto we do not know where is the location of origin. Besides this, we can't say if the episema described by Guidubaldi, is of "Sangritan" type or, rather, to others already described above.
Also the discs found on the slopes of Mount Saraceno - as reported - are without episema, but they are topographically unrelated with "Sangritan" area. Is there anyway to underline the fact that these discs represent the southernmost evidence of the "kardiophylakes", within the territory considered in these pages.
As the origin of this unique weapon of defense, has been suggested that the two discs of "kardiophylax" have developed from rectangular or square plates. Indeed you can see, on the plaque itself, traces of hooks or rings for the system of strap similar to discs system.
Although this hypothesis deserves a closer examination, is to exclude that any process of transformation, from one type to other, has somehow affected the lands of Abruzzo. Therefore the problem is outside our studies. It should be noted, vice versa, the probability that, given the location of the finds of Abruzzo, the "kardiophylax" normally be part of the panoply of the tribes of Chieti, while the disc of Monte Saraceno opens the possibility that this kind of defense was also widespread in Molise.
From the same tomb of Campovalano in which was found the helmet, comes the only greave (shin guard) that, actually, may be attributed to the period under examination. It is made of very robust bronze plate and it is relevant only to left leg. It retains an hook and traces of three more for closure on the calf of the two edges of the foil by a string. Along the edge that goes from the calf to the knee, runs a thin incised decoration.
Characteristic of this element is the massive volume and the strong emphasis that were given to the inside twin muscle. The circumstances of the discovery exclude categorically that a second greave has been lost. Therefore, may be supposed that - already in ancient times - it is the only protection used for left leg, practice documented by sources for later periods.
  Greave from Campovalano

Lateral and frontal
view of the greave.
During the archaeological excavation carried out in the necropolis of Capestrano was found a pair of sandals made with wood and bronze elements. Very different from those worn by the Warrior, they were composed by a rigid wooden soles - bordered by a little bronze tape - that rose from the ground through eight sharp and rostrated crampons. Similar shoes to those of Capestrano come from the necropolis excavated in Contrada Fiorano near Loreto Aprutino. They too are made of a rigid sole on the thickness of which is nailed a bronze tape. The sole is based on a complex set of crampons that hold it lifted from the ground. Even the necropolis of Campovalano returned shoes similar to previous, although crampons that protrude from the sole for almost five centimeters consist solely of long nails.
These boots were used in a well-defined area. Infact, the present findings identify this area between "Pretuzio" territory - currently is the province of Teramo - and river Pescara. An explanation of their use may be found in elements, presumably similar, discovered on a chariot in Belmonte Piceno. Unfortunately this elements are missing because of war events which succumbed to the Museum of Ancona. The Dell'Osso catalogue of 1915, talking about elements of iron in the shape of sandals with large iron pins, arranged around at the edge and fixed in the platform of the chariot. He supposed that "this kind of sandals probably used to support the warrior and keep your feet firm on the platform of the chariot".
In our region were found same chariots in the necropolis of Campovalano, together with elements of the harness horse. Even in a burial at San Giovanni al Mavone were found some chariots but indeed they have appeared elsewhere, as evidenced by the presence of iron tread relevant to wheels very similar to those of findings mentioned above and are stored in the Antiquarium of Corfinio.

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History of Samnites and Samnium - Davide Monaco - Isernia