The Notitia Dignitatum


This page created 5 April 2014, and last modified: 27 September 2014 (papyrus commentary added)


Four dromodarii (i.e. camel-mounted) units are apparently noted in the Notitia:

Ala prima Valeria dromedariorum, under the Dux Thebaidos
Ala tertia dromedariorum, under the Dux Thebaidos
Ala secunda Herculia dromedariorum, under the Dux Thebaidos
Ala Antana dromedariorum, under the Dux Palaestinae

As is to be expected, they are all stationed in areas with desert-like conditions; perhaps more interesting is that other apparently similarly desert-like provinces are not garrisoned by any units called dromodarii. Of course, there is nothing to say that units in other provinces did not have used camels for patrolling; just that there were no units so-called. Further, even units called dromedarii need not necessarily have been entirely camel-mounted. Particularly noteworthy is the Ala secunda Herculia dromedariorum, as it is mentioned in a papyrus (P. Panop. Beatty 2) of ca. 300 AD from Panopolis in upper Egypt, which mentions seven men from the unit, one of which is called a catafract(!). See Terence Coello, Unit Sizes in the Late Roman Army, BAR International Series 645, 1996, page 33.

However, it seems the camel spread surprisingly slowly across Roman Northern Africa - camels are not depicted in the Roman mosaics of Roman Africa, unlike those in Syria (see Olwen Brogan, The Camel in Roman Tripolitania (1954), available here); thus the absence of dromedarii units from e.g. Mauretania might not be so surprising (the local Moors were certainly using camels for warfare in following Vandal period, however).


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