Late Roman Shield Patterns

Dux Armeniae

This page created 18 December 2001, and last modified: 26 July 2015 (Tzanni link added)


Frontpiece showing towns
Frontpiece from the Bodleian manuscript (O).
The stations depicted are:
Avaxa, Sabbu, Domana, Silvanus,
Apollonaris, Melitena, Trapezunta.
The following units (or detachments of units), and prefects and their units, are listed as being under the command of the Duke of Armenia (the numbers in front of the names refer to Ingo Maier's numbering scheme):

71.2 Equites sagittarii, at Sabbu
71.3 Equites sagittarii, at Domana
71.4 Praefectus legionis quintadecimae Apollinaris, at Satala
71.5 Praefectus legionis duodecimae fulminae, at Melitena

while the following units and officers along with their men are recorded separately as being in Pontus:

71.7 Praefectus legionis primae Ponticae, at Trapezunta
71.8 Ala Rizena (see notes)
71.9 Ala dale ariza (see notes)
71.10 Ala Theodosiana, near Anaxam
71.11 Ala felix Theodosiana, at Silvanis

and the following units are described as being from a "lesser register":

71.13 Ala prima Augusta Colonorum, at Chiaca
71.14 Ala Auriana, at Dascusa
71.15 Ala prima Ulpia Dacorum, at Suissa
71.16 Ala secunda Gallorum, at Aeliana
71.17 Ala castello Tablariensi constituta (see notes)
71.18 Ala prima pretorica nuper constituta (see notes)
71.19 Cohors tertia Ulpia miliaria Petraeorum, at Metita
71.20 Cohors quarta Raetorum, at Analiba
71.21 Cohors militaria Bosporiana, at Arauraca (see note)
71.22 Cohors miliaria Germanorum, at Sisila
71.23 Ala prima Iovia felix, at Chaszanenica
71.24 Ala prima felix Theodosiana, at Pithiae
71.25 Cohors prima Theodosiana, at Valentia
71.26 Cohors Apuleia civium Romanorum, at Ysiporto
71.27 Cohors prima Lepidiana, at Caene Parembole
71.28 Cohors prima Claudia equitata, at Sebastopolis
71.29 Cohors secunda Valentiana, at Ziganne
71.30 Cohors Mochora (see notes)

Disclaimer: Remember, a lot of what comes below is speculation. Hopefully informed speculation, but speculation nonetheless. Comments welcome! (lukeuedasarson "at"

Note that item 71.21, the Cohors militaria Bosporiana [sic], is probably a scribal error for Cohors miliaria Bosporiana.

The Cohors Mochora could be interpreted to mean either "Cohors Mochora (location missing)", or "Cohors (name missing), at Mochora"; the latter is probably more likely since a location called Mogaro is known from the 3rd century Antonine Itinerary (205.1); and thus this was Seeck's preferred reading. M.A.Speidel (2009, 'The Development of the Roman Forces in Northeastern Anatolia', available here) interpreted this to mean the unit may have been newly created, along with Ala castello Tablariensi constituta, which also has no name, just a location: "stationed at Fort Tablariensi". Similarly, while the Ala prima pretorica nuper constituta is "newly stationed", it is not clear if "pretorica" is the unit's name or station (Note that in Seeck, OR.XXXVIII.26, this is amended to "praetoria").

The Froben version gives 71.8 and 71.9 as a single item: the ALA Rizena Dalearizae, and Seeck similarly conflated them (OR.XXXVIII.17), as the Ala Rizena (at) Aladaleariza. This is because the Antonine Itinerary gives a location (215.13) called "Olotoedariza" (and variant spellings in different manuscripts). However, all the extent Notitia primary manuscripts (as opposed to editions like the Froben version) give them as two separate items. For example the Parisian manuscript, P, reads:

In Ponto.

Praefectus legionis prime pontice
trapezunta. Ala rizena. Ala
dade ariza. Ala theodosiana
apud anaxam. Ala felix theodo
siana silvanis

while the Munich manuscript, M, gives:
In Ponto

Praefectus legionis primae ponticae
Ala rizena,
Ala dale ariza,
Ala theodosiana apud Auaxa.
Ala felix theodosiana Siluanis,

Like M, the Bodleian manuscript, O, and the Vatican manuscript, V, have Ala dale ariza following Ala Rizena (Ingo Maier, personal communication). Rizena would appear to refer to ancient Rhizaion on the Black Sea coast - see Speidel, above. Speidel seems to have taken Seeck's reading for granted, and thus proposed the Ala Rizena may have been transferred inland to "Aladaleariza" not long before the Notitia was drawn up. This explanation is unnecessary if there are actually two different units involved, because then both could be still at their assigned locations. Whatever the interpretation, the station is not illustrated in the frontpiece, which only shows three Pontic stations, and not four or five.

The men under the Praefectus legionis quintadecimae Apollinaris are clearly Legio XV Apollinaris Pia Fidelis, still stationed at Satala (modern Sadak, Gumushane, Turkey), where they had been the garrison since the early 2nd century (note that the frontpiece illustration gives Apollonaris as a location instead of Satala). The men under the Praefectus legionis duodecimae fulmin(at)ae are likewise Legio XII Fulminata Galliena, which was apparently stationed at Melitena (modern Malatya in Turkey) from the time of Vespasian in the 1st century, and where it is still stationed according to the Notitia.

In contrast, Legio I Pontica appears to have been a Tetrarchic creation, based in Trapezus on the Black Sea (modern Trabzon in Turkey). A detachment of this unit might (but see below) be the unit listed (102/5.90) as serving in the Magister Peditum's Italian command, as the Pontinenses. Its shield pattern is as given below:


That under O comes from the Bodleian manuscript in Oxford, that under P from the Paris manuscript, that under M from the first portion of the Munich manuscript, that under W from the second portion of the Munich manuscript, and that under B from the Froben printed edition. This is most unlikely to have been the pattern born by the detachment of Legio I Pontica stationed at Trapezus, however, even if the units are related, as units transferred to a field army from a garrison station seem to have been given new shield patterns. Further, it is far from certain that the Pontinenses is actually related to Legio I Pontica, since other derivations of the name are possible - see the Pontinenses' own page for further details. A more likely candidate for a daughter unit of Legio I Pontica is the Tzanni (18.27), a legion under the command of the Magister Militum per Thracias.

Shield patterns

Again, this pattern is unlikely to have been that borne by the parent legion in Trapezus, as this pattern was likely given to the unit only upon joining the Thracian command.

Epigraphic evidence for Legio I Pontica comes from an inscription dated 288 from Colybrassus (near modern Alanya on Turkey's south coast) that mentions this unit; another Tetrarchic-period inscription (CIL 3, 6746) from Trapezus (modern Trabzon on the Black Sea cost of Turkey) also mentions the unit, as it reads LEG I P (images here), which can be expanded to "LEGIO I PONTICA".

Many of the units under the Dux Armeniae had been in the area since the days of Arrian (ca. 135) - the following units can be identified from his works (taken from M.A.Spiedel; see above):

Ala I Augusta (Gemina) Colonorum
Ala (II Uplia) Auriana
Ala I Ulpia Dacorum
Ala II Gallorum
Cohors III Ulpia Petraeorum (milliaria equitata sagittaria)
Cohors IIII Raetorum (equitata)
Cohors (I) Bosporiana (milliaria equitata sagittaria)
Cohors (I) Germanorum (milliaria equitata)
Cohors Apuleia civium Romanorum
Some of the other units listed in the Notitia are attested epigraphically from Arrian's time even though they are not identified in his work - see Spiedel for details.

Note how in the Bodleian frontpiece shown above, the Dux' territory is divided into two portions, with the right portion corresponding to those units said to be stationed in Pontus; the left portion corresponds to the units stationed in Armenia proper. The same division is observed in the other manuscripts. Below are shown the frontpieces from the Parisian manuscript, P; and the Froben printed edition, B:

Frontpiece showing forts Frontpiece showing forts

And below are shown the frontpieces from the first set of pictures in the Munich manuscript, M; and the second set, W.

Frontpiece showing forts Frontpiece showing forts


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