Author Topic: Horse found at Pompeii  (Read 909 times)

Dangun

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Re: Horse found at Pompeii
« Reply #15 on: December 25, 2018, 02:06:41 PM »
One of the mysteries of the earlier report may have been solved.  We didn't know why they thought it was a military horse.  The latest report suggests it was found in a villa they think belonged to a military officer, hence military horse.

Owned by a military officer, isn't exactly the same as a war horse. Nor was it necessarily being ridden by a military officer.
Some dimensions would be interesting though.
« Last Edit: December 25, 2018, 02:10:31 PM by Dangun »
  • Nicholas Spratt

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Re: Horse found at Pompeii
« Reply #16 on: December 26, 2018, 01:06:43 PM »
"One of the animals, untouched by the actions of the illegal excavators, was recovered intact, with the complete and connected skeletal structure, harnessed with bit and iron bridle, Between the ears, on the occipital bone, bronze decorative elements which were probably applied to leather elements (since disappeared) were found."
http://pompeiisites.org/en/press-kit-en/the-excavations-of-civita-giuliana/

The harness was being worn. Since I doubt that the horse was being readied for a parade, I think this implies that the harness was its normal wear - a bit blingy perhaps but for every day use the owner was making a status point or at least 'pimping his ride'.
Another possibility is that the harness was going to be taken for safe keeping, though the position next to the head would be a bit of a coincidence unless they were thinking the easiest way to carry it was for the horse to wear it.
It might mean a military link but military and civilian fashion are often cross-fertilizing. Whether they are using this horse to mean that the owner was an officer or if there is other evidence isn't clear from the reports.
« Last Edit: December 26, 2018, 01:25:07 PM by Swampster »
  • Peter Kershaw

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Re: Horse found at Pompeii
« Reply #17 on: December 26, 2018, 03:27:47 PM »
This press release has more on the saddle.  There are pictures of harness fittings in the picture gallery at the bottom plus possible reconstructions plus a single picture with an archaeological scale.
  • Anthony Clipsom

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Re: Horse found at Pompeii
« Reply #18 on: December 26, 2018, 06:09:34 PM »
The significant bit:

Quote
During the excavation of the body, five bronze finds also came to light. Four heavily reworked conifer-wood finds, coated in bronze lamina and half-moon shaped, were found on the ribs of the rib cage; a fifth object formed of three hooks with rivets connected by a ring to a disc, also in bronze, was recovered from under the belly, near the hind limbs.
The shape of these elements, and comparisons found in literature, suggest that they belong to a particular type offour horned saddle, which consisted of a wooden structure with four horns, two front and two rear, covered with bronze plates which gave stability to the rider, in an era prior to the invention of stirrups. Saddles of this type had been used in the Roman world since the 1st century AD, particularly in military contexts. There were four ring joints for every harness, and they were used to connect various leather straps and lock the saddle in place on the horse’s back. Such harnesses were certainly used for military parades.

Nicholas is right to question whether we are just making assumptions, but I think a classic Roman horned (military) saddle clinches ownership and role for at least one of the horses, and location suggests association for the other two.
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Dangun

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Re: Horse found at Pompeii
« Reply #19 on: December 27, 2018, 05:48:56 PM »
Nicholas is right to question whether we are just making assumptions, but I think a classic Roman horned (military) saddle clinches ownership and role for at least one of the horses, and location suggests association for the other two.

I can see a path to identifying the builder's owner as military, but I am not as sure that I see a path to saying a horse saw action. Perhaps a healed combat injury?

Do we know the military officer was active or retired?
Do Roman officers keep their horses if they retire? If they are active, do they take the horses home on a weekend off?
What's the average duration of a Roman military horse? 10 years? Or closer to an average lifespan?
I have no idea.
Do we know an average size of a Roman cavalry horse?

Patrick Waterson

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Re: Horse found at Pompeii
« Reply #20 on: December 27, 2018, 06:17:37 PM »
I would think that the criterion being employed for nomenclature in this instance is to assign the horse a functional adjective based on the profession of its owner.

Not sure if there is any question of the horse seeing action: the last significant actions it might have been in were about a decade previous to the eruption of Vesuvius, ergo the classification 'military horse' seems to be based on 1) being found on premises owned by an officer and 2) wearing a saddle of characteristic military pattern.

Conclusive beyond-all-doubt-whatsoever proof would require the horse's brand mark to have been preserved.  In the absence of this, equipment of recognisable origin stands in as a beyond-reasonable-doubt criterion and location as a strong probability criterion.  Unless something turns up to suggest the horse was in fact borrowed from a neighbour (dreadful unintentional pun, sorry), itself perhaps unlikely as the preferred form of within-city travel for anyone who was anyone was the litter, we may be left with having to assume that location and equipment point to the greatest likelihood being that the horse was owened by and intended to transport a military officer.

Regarding ages and whether a horse would follow its owner into retirement, I cannot answer the first but believe that military horses were government-owned and hence would not accompany their riders into retirement.  In practice exceptions might have been made, but this is not my area of expertise.
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Jim Webster

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Re: Horse found at Pompeii
« Reply #21 on: December 27, 2018, 08:30:02 PM »
I suspect that an officer could turn up with his own horse, he could probably afford better than the army would normally buy. So by definition he could take it home
But I suspect a cavalry soldier going on leave would ride his army horse.
Also horses are going to get to the stage when they need replacing, you aren't going to ride them until they drop. Too old for army use but still with some years of work left in them. I suspect soldiers could have bought them
  • Jim Webster

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Re: Horse found at Pompeii
« Reply #22 on: December 27, 2018, 10:19:03 PM »
Here's a thought.
If the saddle is that indicative of being military, then anyone wishing to join the army would benefit from knowing how to ride on one. Is this some rich kid getting ready to go off a soldiering, or a horse to ride when he's on leave if he is based locally enough,
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