Dacians - Armory
military strength of the Dacians, well known and feared by their neighbors, was
a result of their mentality and education, as well as the weapons and tactics
that they used.
One of the main advantages of the Dacians was given by
the extensive use of the bow, especially as the main weapon of the cavalry. The
bow was a worshipped instrument in the Dacian culture, more than a weapon. On
one side, they used it as a weapon, for hunting and in manly contests, but it
also played an important role in several rituals. The supreme god Gebeleizis is
often represented as an archer, and in some moments in their history the
Dacians have used arrow heads as money. Basing a large part of the troops on
archery allowed the Dacians to destroy an important part of the enemy force
before it reached them in close combat, and the light cavalry equipped with
bows was able to deal large amounts of damage to the enemy infantry, while
being very hard to stop. As a matter of fact, the military history regards the bow
and cavalry combination as one of the most efficient and mobile weapons, until
the invention of heavy armor.
For melee combat, the Dacians used a one-handed sword,
called the Sica. The blade of this sword was about 25 inches long and
was sharp on only one side. It became narrower towards the end: the back was
straight, and so was the edge near the hilt, until a point where only the
cutting side started to describe a curve, so that the tip of the blade was a
sharp point. The guard was fairly big, in order to
offer good protection for the hand and was often ornated with sacred symbols.
Some of the dacian fighters used another kind of sword,
which resembled the celtic model. This sword was sharp on both sides and it had
a triangular blade. The celtic sword also inspired the Gladius, the famous
sword that the roman soldiers used.
The Dacians wore light armor for defense, made of
tanned leather and in some cases covered with metal scales. This kind of armor
offered maximum mobility, which was necessary especially for the archers. Those
who chose to fight with a one-hand sword also used a medium sized round or oval
shield. Very few fighters - usually the nobles - wore metal breast
plates. The Dacians also wore metal helmets, with defenses for the face, but
with a short back side, in order to allow free movement. Some of the helmets
were ornated, as the swords, with ritual symbols or with a special sign: a pair
of eyes on the forehead.
The Dacian flag was a wolf head with a tail made of metal
scales, and it was called a Drakon. The Drakon was built so that when
the wind passed through it, it would make a sound that resembled a wolf's cry,
which lead to the association of the Dacians with the image of this animal.