The Mattiaci iuniores (West)

This page created 2 April 2014, and last modified: 30 November 2014 (Maier reference numbers added)


The Mattiaci iuniores is one of the auxilia palatina units listed (98/9.040 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned (102/5.115) to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command. A corresponding shield pattern is shown (92#20) labelled (92.u) the plain Mattiaci (Matiaci in the Bodleian manuscript, O) in various manuscripts as below:

Shield patterns

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

The Mattiaci pattern has a red rim (yellow in W), a white main field, and a cruciform pattern of yellow circles or perhaps chain links; in O and P, and to a lesser extent, B,these appear to be presented in front of a black background to the cross. However, it is evident that this is the "wrong" shield pattern; like that of some other western auxilia platina units, it has apparently been shifted from its proper place (or, to be more exact, the label has likely been shifted from its proper place); this pattern appears to instead belong to the Mattiaci seniores. Rather, the "true" pattern of the Mattiaci iuniores is that from the next unit in the list, the Ascarii seniores, as is illustrated below by the various manuscripts:

Shield patterns

Now the more observant among you may have noticed that these two patterns are rather similar... This is of course one of the clues that there is a shield mismatch as mentioned above in the first place!

Note that there is also another auxilia palatina unit called the Mattiaci iuniores, in the eastern half of the empire under the command of the second Master of the Soldiers in the Imperial Presence. Its shield pattern is completely different (but there is evidence that the shield patterns of this commander are also mismatched - there is a somewhat similar shield one place to the left). Further, there is a unit called the Mattiaci iuniores Gallicani under the Magister Peditum and assigned to the Magister Equitum's Gallic command. Its indicated shield pattern is nothing like those of the above-mentioned Mattiaci units (and neither are any of the nearby units).

The name Mattiaci is tribal; according to Tacitus in the 1st century, belonging to a German tribe that were neighbours of the Batavians. Many units in the Notitia carry such apparently tribal names inherited from units of auxilia raised centuries in the past, although in many cases, the tribal name had been transferred to a locality; such is the case here, as "Aquis Mattiacorum" was a famous spa town rom the second century; it is now known as Wiesbaden. Which former Cohors Mattiacorum (if any) the western Mattiaci iuniores may have been descended from is unknown; by far the best attested unit is Cohors II Mattiacorum, which is known from scores of inscriptions and military diplomas dating to the early 2nd century in particular; an example is a statue base from Carnuntum in Austria that bears an inscription (AE 1992, 1431) mentioning a TRIB COH II MATTIACOR M EQ, which expands to "trib(unus) coh(ortis) II Mattiacor(um) m(illiariae) eq(uitatae)" (photos here). It is worth noting that a "Castello Mattiacorum" is attested (e.g. AE 1905, 169 with photos here) in the area of what is now Mainz in the 3rd century, with associated soldiers (AE 1889, 64, photos here), from which the unit may derive its name in a more direct manner than from a recruitment locality such as Aquis Mattacorum.

Inscriptional evidence for the Mattiaci iuniores comes from the cemetery at Colonia Iulia Concordia (modern Portogruaro in Veneto, Italy), which produced an inscription (CIL 5, 8744; photo here) mentioning the unit in the form of the NUMERO MATIACORUM IUNIORUM, and another (CIL 5, 8751) in the form of the NUMERO MMATTIACOR IUNIOR. See here for Hoffmann's 1963 analysis (in German).


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