Tuesday 31 March 2015

Pre-Islamic Arabs, part one, the research.

Searching for any information on the Internet covering the Pre-Islamic Arabs of the early 3rd century proved rather difficult. There are a number of scholarly studies published, but these would take care of the cost of a dozen armies.

There are however, small nuggets of information about the Nomadic tribes which did lead me back to the commercial centres, such as Osrhoenae, Edessa, Adiabene and Singar to name a few. Here, I can only conclude some Nomadic families made rich through their entrepreneurial ventures in the desert moved to the big city.

Further, Lakhmid and Ghassānid became frequent terms to describe those tribes becoming auxiliaries of the East Roman (Byzantine) or Sassanid Persians. More information is forthcoming as both major powers kept better records than their predecessors.

Pre-Islamic religion found at Wiki provided useful information for possible tribal banners. This link brings you to Arab Mythology:


The following may prove useful for those wishing to investigate further (Wiki):

Ghassanid families

Aldababneh tribe,Abdallah, Aranki, Ayoub, Ammari, Batarseh, Barakat, Bassit, Bayouth, Chakar, Dmour, Fallouh (فلّوح), Farah, Farhat, Dababneh,Farhoud, Gharios, Ghanem ,Ghanma, Ghannoum, Ghulmiyyah, Haber, Habib, Haddad, Hamra, Hattar, Howayek, Haddadin, Ishaq, Jabara (Jebara or Gebara, Gibara), Kandil, Karadsheh, [Khazen], Kawar, Khleif, Khoury, Lahd, Layoun, Ltaif, Maalouf, Madanat, Madi, Makhlouf,Al Marjieh tribe ,Matar, Moghabghab, Mokdad, Mubaydeen, Naber, Nasir, Nayfeh, Nimri, Obeid, Outayeck, Oweis, Ozaizi, Rached, Rahhal, Razook, Saab, Saad, Saadi, Saah, Salama, Saliba, Samandar, Samar, Sfeir, Sayegh, Shdid, Sheiks Chemor, Smeirat, Sweis, Sweidan, Suheimat, Theeba, Touma, Tyan, Zahran.

Searching for an equivalent list for the Lakhmids did not produce a nice list, but I did find “Kindah Wars with the Lakhmids”


The tribal names recorded are of the 5th and 6th century, but may have a longer lineage to an earlier time.

Tuesday 24 March 2015

Parthia, all three commands in battle array.

All three commands are deployed on the parade ground. Each are identical in composition and one could ask, why three commands? Firstly, my Romans (Eastern) are three commands strong, Sassan have five and with the projected mix of Arabo-Aramean, Armenian and Pre-Islamic Arabs, there should be enough for a giant size engagement in the future. Suffice it to say, I enjoy big battles.

Each command have their banner in a distinct colour which is used as a colour theme for the elements.

Command one.

Command two.

Command three.

Sunday 22 March 2015


Today's post in the series of enemies for the Eastern Roman are the Parthians. The revised 3.0 army lists give Parthia an increase in options; bowmen, both fast and solid Auxilia, and same number of skirmishers. The extra foot will help fighting the Armenians or the hill tribes of the Caucasus. The number of Cataphract (4Kn) are increased by one element giving them a maximum of six and of course lots of LH. 

In the Resource section of Fanaticus are Parthian Army notes,  army notes written by Tom Ryan. The article covers the origins and gives good background information for which I have used to search further the twilight period of Parthia. As this project does centre on the last quarter century Parthian Empire and the number of campaigns fought by the emperors Septimius Severus to Elagabalus the composition of my Parthians will be solely mounted. 

At its completion, the Parthian army will consist of three identical commands, each with a theme colour. As the project expands, there will be a number of allies added to the list for both sides to employ.

Parthian command: 1 x Kn (General), 2 x Kn, and 9 x 2LH.

Some handy links:
Parthian military overview,
Mithras at Dura Europos
Duro Europos Synagogue – slideshow
Battle of Nisibis AD 217

Wednesday 18 March 2015

II/22 Arabo-Aramean, part 2

The Kingdom of Adiabene,

Unlike Hatra, which was situated on the commercial network as Palmyra, Adiabene's location brought it in constant rivalry with the neighboring Kingdom of Armenia. Her location was situated on the thoroughfare between Armenia and Parthia and later Sassan. 

Painting the army. 
Two of the six bowmen are clad in chain-mail and are distinct with their white plumes and cloaks and these are my Palace Guard. The remaining bowmen are painted in muted colours which brought a nice eastern look to both commands. The darker clothed figures in reds and brown carrying shield are fast blade. 

As both armies are nearly identical in appearance, the only visible difference between the two kingdoms are the banners they carry; the Goddess (Hatra) and the crossed Palm Leaves (Adiabene). This makes combining the two for large scale battles easier.

Both armies have not had a sterling combat record; against the desert nomads, they have not fared to well and as allies for Parthia they were consistent, they fled. 

More later when I present scenarios for this project. 

Tuesday 17 March 2015

II/22 Arabo-Aramean

Kingdom of Hatra

Assembling a list of armies for this project, I wondered if it wise to add any Arabo-Aramean armies as the desert nomads were a versatile ally for Rome, Parthia and Sassan.

Further investigation proved II/22c, d, and e could be used within the period covered by this project and the difference between the army list of 2.2 and 3.0 are not great. All three options basically have a bodyguard of Kn, with a host of archers backed by javelineers and swordsmen and camel mounted caravan guard.

Individually, these may not fare too well against Rome, but for the larger scale battles they could add an extra dimension to a game. Historically, Hatra did a grand job of “thumbing” their noses at the Romans but less so against the Sassanid.
The figures making up the infantry for the two armies are a mix of Old Glory Armenian infantry and Sassanid archers; two elements of javelin types will be converted to fast blade.

Not pictured are Eastern Roman figures in chainmail, helmet and cloak which serve as a palace guard, the remainder will be painted in muted colours.
I know Essex offer armoured camels, however, I opted to combine all my purchase from one source, Old Glory. They offer 6 camel guards to a pack, which was exactly what was needed.

The design of the Hatrene banner came from a suggestion by “Swampster” at the Fanaticus Forum. The article (link) was an invaluable source covering religious symbols of the period. Next post: the Kingdom of Adiabene.  


Saturday 14 March 2015

The Eastern Legions and Auxilia

Here is an overview of elements forming an eastern option for the early Severan period.


Legiones (12,000 legionnaires, 72 ballistae)
III Gallica,                                                                                       4 x 4Bd, 1 x Art
IV Scythica,                                                                                     4 x 4Bd, 1 x Art
XVI Flavia.                                                                                       4 x 4Bd, 1 x Art

Auxilia (3,000 cavalry, 1,075 mounted infantry, 7,000 infantry, total: 16,500)
II Flavia Agrippiana,                  from Lugdunensis ,                          1 x 3Cv
I Praetoria C. R.,                        unknown origin,                                1 x 3Cv
III Thracum,                             from Thrace,                                   1 x 3Cv
Thracum Herculania M.,             from Thrace,                                   2 x 3Cv
I Ulpia Singularium ,                   raised by Trajan,                            1 x 3Cv

I Ascalonitanorum S.,                 from Judaea,                                  1 x 4Bw
I Flavia Chalcidenorum S.E.,       from Syria                                      1 x 4Bw
II Classica S.,                             from the Fleet,                              1 x 4Bw

I Ulpia Dacorum,                         from Dacia,                                    1 x 4Ax
VII Gallorum,                              from Lugdenensis,                          1 x 4Ax

I Lucensium E.,                            from Tarraconensis,                      1 x 4Ax
IV Lucensium E.,                          from Tarraconensis,                      1 x 4Ax

I Ulpia Petraeorum M.E.,              from Arabia,                                 2 x 4Ax
V Ulpia Petraeorum M.E.,              from Arabia,                                 2 x 4Ax

I Claudia Sugambrorum,               from Spain,                                   1 x 4Ax
I Sugambrorum E.,                       from Spain,                                   1 x 4Ax

II Thracum Syriaca E.,                from Thrace,                                 1 x 4Ax
III Augusta Thracum E.,              from Thrace,                                1 x 4Ax

Equites units will be grouped to create                                             3 x 2LH
To supplement the above, a further                                                  3 x 2LH
are Equites Indigenae, Itauranorum, and Arabae. 

Note: the hills in the background have long since been changed as part a rigorous programme to bring all terrain items to a DBX standard. This will be featured in a later post. 


Friday 13 March 2015

General Officers and the battle array.

In Phil Barker’s book, Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome, general officers wore a muscled corselet with an attic styled helmet this period; beards came also into fashion.

Out my small excess stock I found three candidates for the position of general; two Greek Successor generals and one Gallic Chieftain. The Greeks would need fur trim for the cloak and the height of plumage atop the helmet should be increased a bit. The horses are fine, but the saddle cloth could be lengthened.

The helmet for the chieftain would need to be built up and the trousers trimmed to Roman styled breeches. As he is the only one with shield, I shall need to trim this a bit to conform with the style of the time.

Original figures.


The three commands in battle array.

Command 1

Command 2

Command 3

Thursday 12 March 2015

Indigenous Troops in Roman service.

Light Horse
The Middle Imperial Roman army have one LH per command with an option for an extra LH. For the eastern army, these would represent irregular troops raised from the native realms. I have large numbers of horse archers for Parthian and Sassanid, so I have chosen javelin armed types for which I will use the Lurkio Late Moors. These have a suitable Arab-like appearance and perfect for my Indigenae Idiota.

Lurkio “Moorish” Light Cavalry

Recommended reading:
The Roman Cavalry, From the First to the Third Century A.D. by K. Dixon and P. Southern

Along with the small order of indigenous (LH) mounted I also added baggage camels. This was my first order with Lukio miniatures, but the horses are a bit taller than Old Glory ones, but that should not be noticeable when painted. 

Quality of castings are very good with virtually no cleaning needed. The attendants for the camels are actually Moorish slingers and these match well with Old Glory figures.

Wednesday 11 March 2015

Artillery and archers

The Middle Imperial Roman list include more options for which I have now added artillery and bowmen to my Eastern Army. This means 3 x 4Bw and 1 x Art will be added to each command; extra bowmen will be used to fill the Hatrene and Characene ranks. Funny how these projects seem to grow.

In the foreground are the Roman elements and to their rear are the extras based as 3Bw for the Arabo-Aramean armies.

Next post will cover the command elements and all three commands in battle array.

Tuesday 10 March 2015


Comparing the Early to Middle Imperial Roman list feature an increase in cavalry and the appearance of heavily armoured types, the cataphract.

The latter were original formed from Parthian refugees, but as Parthians are still a viable opponent in our campaigns, I shall use only cavalry and light horse. Below are the elements needed for the three commands.

II Flavia Agrippiana, from Lugdunensis    1 x 3Cv
I Praetoria C. R., not known                      1 x 3Cv
III Thracum, from Thrace                       1 x 3Cv
Thracum Herculania M., from Thrace       2 x 3Cv
I Ulpia Singularium, raised Trajan            1 x 3Cv

Light Horse 
An element of light horse is listed for the Middle Imperial army list. A second element is an option for the eastern Romans. This reflects the “Illyrian” regiments raised from the Promoti and Mauri units.

Promoti are the Legionary cavalry and as such should have similar clothing and shield pattern as their host Legion. One such LH is done with the exception of the shield design.

This is speculation, but further light horse may have come from the existing auxilia regiments having mounted units or Equitata. In Barker's book, these were grouped together to form part of the battlefield cavalry.

Looking at Cheesman's list for the eastern provinces there are a high proportion of Auxilia Equitata located on the frontier. Excavations of the Auxilia forts have found a number with stables. As their primary role is scouting I will paint up two more LH from the Equitata units, keeping the same shield pattern as their parent unit.

Recommended reading:

The Roman Cavalry, From the First to the Third Century A.D. by K. Dixon and P. Southern

Monday 9 March 2015

The Auxilia

Auxiliary Shield patterns. 
Shields appearing in Phil Barker’s book are taken from Trajan’s column. From these we can see four general patterns, those with an eagle emblazoned have been awarded Roman citizenship for valour on the battlefield, Jupiter’s eagle and lightning bolts represent volunteers raised among the Roman citizens and shields depicted with a wreath are awarded the title Torquata and the remainder have designs, swirls and stars. The latter may have significance to the region they were recruited from, but this is speculation.

My Auxiliary are those which served in the Syrian province as noted by G.L. Cheesman in his book The Auxilia of the Roman Imperial Army. To facilitate the painting of 12 elements of Auxilia, I would select six shield colours and later add to each a unique pattern. In this manner I can repeat a pattern but on a different coloured shield.

From Cheesman’s book, you can find the Auxilia listed by province from which they were recruited from and by the province which they were stationed.

Cheesman: http://www.archive.org/stream/auxili...ge/n5/mode/2up

I am aware since the publication of the book, there has been new research into the subject of Auxilia, but there has not been enough done for the eastern provinces. Here is where my artistic license can be loosed.


I Ascalonitanorum S. from Judaea            1 x 4Bw
I Flavia Chalcidenorum S.E. from Syria     1 x 4Bw
II Classica S. from the Fleet                    1 x 4Bw

I Ulpia Dacorum from Dacia                      1 x 4Ax
VII Gallorum from Lugdenensis                 1 x 4Ax

I Lucensium E. from Tarraconensis            1 x 4Ax
IV Lucensium E. from Tarraconensis          1 x 4Ax

I Ulpia Petraeorum M.E. from Arabia         2 x 4Ax
V Ulpia Petraeorum M.E. from Arabia         2 x 4Ax

I Claudia Sugambrorum from Spain            1 x 4Ax
I Sugambrorum E. form Spain                    1 x 4Ax

II Thracum Syriaca E. from Thrace           1 x 4Ax
III Augusta Thracum E. from Thrace        1 x 4Ax

The bowmen are optional on the Middle Imperial Roman list as are the psiloi which will be native slingers. Of the ten regiments listed above, two are double strength and will have two elements in place of one.

In the foreground are eight standard size cohort, second are two milliaria which are now done. I selected 6 shield patterns duplicating the pattern for units with different background.

Most common designs were crescent moons, stars and spines. To add diversity, the tunics are not all white, but for example the Spanish units have black, Arab, brown and the Gallic, a blue grey.

Sunday 8 March 2015

Storm Within the (Roman) Empire

Two years ago I began collecting armies of the 15th century as a starter project while DBA 3.0 was in its draft stage. As the rules reached its final revision, I started the Severan Dynasty, a much larger project which was followed closely at the DBA Fanaticus Forum.

Unfortunately, reorganizing my Photobucket account, the 250 photos of the Severan thread and other projects lost their link. Rather than restoring the links, an easier option is to restore here the entire “Armies and Enemies of Rome – the Severan Dynasty”. This not only covers the armies of the 2nd/3rd century that fought Rome, but terrain items and interesting campaign and scenario ideas for anyone interested in this dynamic period of history.

Middle Imperial Romans. 
Some years back, the proposed 3.0 list for II/64 Middle Imperial Roman caught my eye. I noted no new items, but the list did offer a flexible composition to build an army. Rather than build one, I opted to collect three commands with options.

As a start, I selected the eastern frontier as the list of enemies offered a variety of troop types. Along with the Sassanid, already in my collection, I would add Parthia, Arabo-Aramean (Hatra and Characene), Pre-Islamic Arabs and Armenians. This would make a fine representation a late 2nd/ early 3rd century campaign.

Eastern Frontier
Starting with the Legions, I choose the III Gallica, IV Scythica and the XVI Flavia Firma to represent the core strength for each command. Those wishing to do research for their own collections, I can recommend the following link:

The Legions: http://www.livius.org/le-lh/legio/legions.htm

For my own selected legions, these links will take you to their unit history.
III Gallica: http://www.livius.org/le-lh/legio/iii_gallica.html , emblem, the Bull
IV Scythica : http://www.livius.org/le-lh/legio/iiii_scythica.html , emblem, the Capricorn
XVI Flavia Firma: http://www.livius.org/le-lh/legio/xvi_flavia_firma.html , emblem, the Lion

Regarding shield patterns, I choose a pragmatic approach to their depiction. 
* The majority of shields depict two pair of wings and lightning bolts. 
* The colour red is known to cover the back of the shield, but the front side is still open to further research. 
* We do know the ground colour of shields in the later period as represented in the Notitia Dignitatum, so a general direction can be made. 
* For my three legions (4 x 4Bd) I have selected red, ochre and tan, each with two pair of wings and lightning bolts.

Next posting; the Auxilia