The Exculcatores seniores

This page created 17 January 2016, and last modified: 17 January 2016


In the western half of the empire, the Exculcatores seniores is listed (98/9.48 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as one of auxilia palatina units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned (102/5.71) to his Italian command.

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

Unusually for a unit of auxilia palatina, its shield pattern is not recorded in the Notitia. Interestingly, neither of the patterns of the next two units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster, the Sagittarii Tungri (98/9.49) and the Exculcatores iuniores (98/9.50), are recorded either, and since it appears there may have been another unit listed with these units, the patterns of all of them might have been inadvertently deleted simultaneously, as a single row of four shields.

The name Exculcatores means "those who tread down" or "the Tramplers", and they are described in Vegetius' military manual, roughly contemporary with the Notitia, in these terms (2.15): Post hos erant ferentarii et levis armatura, quos nunc exculcatores et armaturas dicimus..., i.e. "Following [the first line] were the ferentarii and [other] light infantry, whom we now call exculcatores and armaturas...".

Two other units bear the name Exculcatores in the Notitia: the Exculcatores iuniores (98/9.50) and the Exculcatores iuniores Britanniciani (98/9.82). Both are listed in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster as auxilia palatina units; only the Exculcatores iuniores Britanniciani has its shield pattern recorded.


1. Ingo Maier; "Appendix 4: Numeration of the new edition of the compilation 'notitia dignitatum' (Cnd)"; last accessed 26 October 2015. See also for here for numbering examples. Return

2. "Vegetius" (Publius Flavius Renatus Vegetius); "Epitoma rei militaris"; available here in Latin and here in English translation (last accessed 12 December 2015). Return

3. Rance, Philip; "Sculca, *sculcator, exculcatore and proculcator: The Scouts of the Late Roman ARmy and a Disputed Etymology"; Latomus 73 (2014), pp 474-501, available here (last accessed 13 January 2016). Return


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