Forensic Fashion
(c) 2006-present R. Macaraeg


>Costume Studies
>>155BC Celtiberian caetratus

Subjectcaetratus warrior
Culture: Celtiberian
Setting: Roman wars, Iberia 4th-2ndc BC

Context (Event Photos, Primary Sources, Secondary Sources, Field Notes)

* Ellis 2001 p45-46
"Some argue that, while the Celts were widely dispersed throughout the peninsula, they only established isolated settlements and did not constitute the mass of the population.  This is open to debate.  It was Eratosthenes, writing in about 230 BC, who gave the name Iberia to the peninsula.  Timaeos of Tauromenium in Sicily, originally an Athenian (c.356-260 BC), is thought to have been the first to use the term Celtiberian.  There is a school of thought which maintains that the name Celtiberian had a precise value as opposed to Celt, for some ancient writers make a distinction between them.  One generally accepted notion is that the Celtiberians were a 'mixed race', Celts intermixed with the native population of Iberia.  The ancient chroniclers also make the distinction between the Celtiberia citeriores, those close to the coast, and Celtiberia ulteriores, those furthers from the coast.
​    "It emerges quite clearly that, during the wars of independence against the Roman empire, all the named leaders bear Celtic names -- Rhetogenes, Caraunios, Caros, Ambon, Leukon, Megaravicos and Auaros.  And although some writers distinguish the Lusitani as an Iberian tribe, their leader in the war against Rome, Viriathos, has a Celtic name.  So were the Lusitani a Celtic people or did the Celts manage to establish a dynastic rule over an Iberian people?  Gaius Plinius Secundus (Pliny the Elder), AD 23/4-79, states categorically that the Lusitani were Celts and spoke Celtic.  But Henri Hubert supposes that some Celtic families were accepted into the native tribes and acheived power, perhaps assimilating while continuing to use Celtic names. ...
​    "It can be accepted, however, that by the time Iberia began to be conquered, first by the Carthaginian empire and then by the Roman empire, the Celts constituted the major population and held political predominance in the peninsula."

* Matyszak 2004 p56
"The Lusitanians went into battle lightly armoured, and mainly protected by a shield which was either the distinctively spined Celtiberian shield, or smaller, rounder shields called 'targes'.  The main offensive weapon was a spear (the saunion) and a formidable sword of the falcata type, the curving blade of which resembles a large Gurkha kukri.  Combined with their natural ferocity, this made the Lusitanians a formidable fighting force, but they were no match for the disciplined legions of the finest army in antiquity."

* Yáñez Solana 1998 p164
"Los celtas habitaban en casas de planta rectangular y a veces circular, agrupadas en pobladas casi siempre fortificados.  Incineraban a los difuntos con sus ajuares personales.  Algunas tribus vivían preferentemente de la ganadería y otras de la agricultura, sin descuidar tampoco la caza.  Conocían las artes del tejido y de la cerámica y el trabajo de los metales, en el que sobresalieron.  Las tribus más belicosas opusieron una fuerte resistencia a los conquistadores romanos, sobre todo en el siglo II a.C.  En España sucedió lo mismo que en la Galia y en los demás países europeos, ya que durante casi dos siglos se mantuvo la resistencia."


* Treviño/McBride 1986 p35-36
"The body protection used by Hispanic warriors was basically similar to that of other peoples of the ancient world, but evidently showing some local characteristics.  The head was protected by a helmet of some kind, varying from a simple leather cap to more elaborate examples, of mixed construction or entirely of metal, with e.g. a triple crest (Strabo) or a zoomorphic decoration of some kind.  Unfortunately, this deduction comes to us solely on the authority of ancient chronicles and surviving vase paintings, sculptures and coins: to date, archaeology has provided no single, unmistakable example of such a helmet.  Fragments have been tentatively identified, but could also come from bronze or iron pots.  One explanation for this lack of primary evidence could be that these helmets were made of perishable materials -- believable in the case of the poor warrior, but hard to reconcile with the variety and complexity of the types indicated, however crudely, in the vase paintings.
​    "[...]  Body armour seems to have been made from various materials, including simple fabric such as linen, thickly woven panels of esparto grass, hardened leather, and metal plate, scale and mail.  There is evidence for the use of round breastplates strapped over fabric or leather cuirasses; the metal plates were sometimes plainly finished, sometimes decorated elaborately in relief with zoomorphic or geometric designs.  The use of scale corselets is very clearly indicated on vases; and in some cases there seems to be a suggestion of corselets of mixed scale and mail construction, the scale on the upper torso and the more flexible mail covering the abdomen.  There is also a strong indication, particularly on the vase from Liria (Valencia) depicting six riders and six infantrymen, that some horses were armoured with extensive areas of mail.  This vase shows foot soldiers wearing mixed scale and mail armour, carrying the heavy infantryman's scutum, and armed with spears and the ubiquitous falcata.  There is also evidence for the use by some warriors of metal greaves."


* Bennett 1998 p115
"falcata  short, single-edged cut-and-thrust sword, the Spanish version of the Greek kopis, used from the 6th century BC to the 3rd century AD."

* Treviño/McBride 1986 p38, 39-40
"This curved sabre was without doubt the favoured weapon of the Iberian warrior over several centuries.  Its origin is unknown, but there are two schools of thought: one holds that it was an evolved form of the curved 'Halstatt' knife of central Europe, which had spread to Italy, Greece and Spain, similar types being used by the Etruscans, Greeks and Hispanics.  The second theory is that the falcata was a direct copy of the Greek machaera or kopis, brought to Spain by Greek merchants or by the mercenaries recruited by the Greeks around the 6th century BC).
​    "[...]  Written testimony to the effectiveness of this blade survives, as in the case of a veteran legionary of the civil wars in Spain who said, on meeting Caesar: '... I am not surprised that you do not recognise me.  The last time we met I was fit, but in the battle of Munda I lost an eye and all the bones of my body were crushed.  Neither would you recognise my helmet if you could see it, for it was struck by a Hispanic machaera ...' (Seneca, De Beneficiis, V, 24).
​    "The peculiar shape of the sword, widening towards the point, moved the centre of gravity further forward than in the straight sword; this increased the kinetic efficiency of a blow.  Diodorus comments that these swords were of such quality that no helmet, shield or bones could resist their strokes.  Only the inside edge of the falcata was sharpened -- though it has been possible to confirm that some warriors sharpened the back edge at the point.  If we accept the evolution of the falcata from the Greek machaera, we can also make a classification of the different types of hilt, which were often richly decorated with silver inlay.
​    "The older examples, dating from around the 5th and 4th centuries BC, seem copied directly from Greek prototypes, and typically have bird's-head hilt shapes.  As the use of this sword became more general the hilt shape changed to resemble a horse's head.  Finally, the hilt design degenerated into a purely geometrical and functional shape.  The hilt was also fitted with protection for the fingers in the form of small chains or prismatic bars.  There exist some examples, of great beauty, which break the classification sequence attempted above, such as that found in the necropolis of Almedinilla (Cordoba) shaped like a bat's head.
​    "[...] The size of the falcata varied around a mean of about 60cm.  The most usual way of carrying it was in a scabbard of leather, wood or fabric with iron reinforcement at the edges, throat and chape.  Three or four rings attached to the edges allowed the warrior to sling it on a long baldric from right shoulder to left hip, the sword thus hanging almost horizontal, with the cutting edge at the bottom."


* Treviño/McBride 1986 p38
"It has been possible to identify the prototype of the Celt-Iberian straight sword by making retrospective comparisons between examples excabated at Arcobriga (Monreal de Ariza) which are no later than 300 BC, and 1st century AD finds and sculptural representations of legionary swords.  The necropolis finds of Castilla have also added some information.  The density of finds of such swords increases in tombs of the 3rd century BC.  Essentially they fall into two types.  The first, classified as 'atrophied antennae', have iron hilts drawn up into two short 'horns' ending in ball-shaped ornaments.  Examples of their type with rich silver and gold inlay decoration are not uncommon.  The relatively short blade was sharpened on both edges and had a sharp stabbing point, making it deadly in combat.  This sword certainly reached the Peninsula in a primitive form during the Celtic invasions of the 6th century BC, and was later to develop locally in the isolation which followed the Iberian conquest of the south of France in about 500 BC.  In vase paintings, and actual finds, it is noticeable that warriors carried knives, extra spearheads, and even scissors slipped under the framing of the sword scabbard.
​    "The second type of straight sword, also in use but much less favoured, was one corresponding to the typical patterns of 'La Tène I and II', of which very few examples have been excavated."


* Treviño/McBride 1986 p36
"[T]he caetrati carried the caetra, a Latin corruption of a local name for a small, round buckler.  The combination of caetra buckler and falcata sabre was apparently the most favoured battle equipment among Hispanic warriors.  The buckler was made of wood, anything from 30cm to 60cm in diameter, with metal fittings and ornaments on the face, and a large metal boss covering a stout iron handgrip on the inside.  Characteristically, it was slung on a long carrying strap when out of battle; in combat the strap might be attached firmly to (wound around?) the forearm.  Due to its lightness, the user could both parry enemy blows and also wield the buckler as a secondary weapon, punching for the face or chopping at the arms with the edge."

* Bennett 1998 p53
"caetra  buckler (small round shield) carried by Iberian warriors from about 300 BC to about 100 BC.  This distinctive shield, about 30-45 cm/12-18 in across, was used by light troops, and provided the name -- caetrati -- for javelin troops who used it.  Many representations exist in sculpture and painted vases."


* Coe/Connolly/Harding/Harris/Larocca/Richardson/North/Spring/Wilkinson p25 (Frederick Wilkinson, "Greece and Rome" p20-29)
"The Spanish dagger, which has a leaf-shaped blade some 10 ins/25 cm long and a primitive flat-tanged double-disc handle, is well known from both native and Roman sites in Spain.  Several examples were found at Numantia, the site of the famous Roman siege of 133 BC, and three handles dating from about 90 BC were found in the Roman camp at Caceres el Viejo.  Another double-disc handle was recently found in the River Saône near Chalons, where Caesar may have had a supply base.  This last find, together with a blade found at Alesia, the site of Caesar's siege of Vercingetorix in 52 BC, establishes a direct link between the Spanish dagger and the kind of dagger used in the early years of the Empire.  The latter differs only slightly from its Spanish prototype, having a pommel disc which flattens off at the top, with three purely decorative rivets in it, perhaps harking back to the earlier Italian antennae pommel.  The wooden sheath, which had a metal frame, is now completely covered with bronze or iron and often highly decorated.  It also has the four suspension rings of its Spanish predecessor, so that it could be worn, suspended horizontally, on either hip."