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THE INFANTRY

Translated by Kirsty Bennett, Matt Canty and haiducul


The power of the Dacian army, besides possessing exceptional cavalry, lay in its exceptional infantry. The cavalry was used in wars fought on the plains while the infantry soldiers were at their most effective in mountain based battles.
On the Trajan column we can see three types of weapons used by the Dacian infantry ranging from light to heavy. The lightly armed infantry use bows or slings (made of flax, wool or horses' tail hair) or throw rocks by hand. The medium-armed soldiers’ offensive weapons were short spears, possibly a thowing spear like the pilum and also carried oval shields, or ‘peltas’. Finally the heavily armed foot soldiers wore helmets called ‘lorice’ and were armed with longer spears than those above.
Other offensive weapons carried by both the cavalry and infantry were curved swords called Sica, meaning sickle, which the Romans called ‘falcatus ensis’ or ‘falx supina’, both descriptions of sickle based weapons. This curved sword was the characteristic weapon of the Dacians and it appears on the roman coins that were made in Dacia by the Roman emperors Phillip the Arab, Trajan, Decius and Valerian. Ovidius writes of another weapon used by the Gets and the Sarmations (Dacian tribes); “ every barbarian is wearing a knife suspended on his left side”. Finally, the Dacian troops also used the ‘pugio’, or dagger.
The Dacian weapons have their own characteristic, such as shape and decoration, developed from their own method of fighting and interaction with the German, Celtic and Iranian worlds, but not the Macedonians, Greeks or Romans.
Also during these times the shepherds and farmers from the lower Danube were constantly armed oin order to protect their flocks whilst they were traveling. Ovidius writes, “here the unfortunate peasant is holding in one hand a plough and in the other the weapon, the shepherd has a helmet on his head and he is singing from his two whistles, stuck with resin and here the poor flock are scared more of wars than of wolves”.