The Sagittarii Tungri

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


In the western half of the empire, the Sagittarii Tungri is listed (98/9.49 in Ingo Maier's numbering scheme) as one of auxilia palatina units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster; it is assigned (102/5.92) to the Comes Illyricum.

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 two preceding and following units in the Magister Peditum's infantry roster, the Exculcatores seniores (98/9.48), 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 sagittarii part of the unit's implies - but does not establish - that the unit was bow-armed: it may conceivably, for example, have just been partially bow-armed, and just distinguished itself for its archery at some point; or perhaps it may even have been formerly bow-armed, but was no-longer necessarily so.

The Tungri part of the unit's name derives from the people so-called that lived in the Belgic region of Gaul, and which lives on in many modern names, most notably the city of Tongres/Tongeren. This contrasts with e.g. the palatine legionary unit the Tongrecani seniores (98/9.24), whose name seems to be derived via an intermediate source - the Roman district name of the Civitas Tungrorum. Like the plain Tungri (98/9.93), which similarly bears a more clearly ethnic as opposed to geographical name, the Sagittarii Tungri would presumably have been originally recruited from among the Tungri people before they were Romanised. But since auxilia palatina were first raised long after the district had been romanised, this may imply the unit, like the Tungri, was not a palatine unit when first named, and has a longer history. What that history may be is however hard to discern.


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


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