Arab Cavalrymen

An extract from Armies of the Dark Ages 600-1066
by Ian Heath

[Based on a 10th Century Papyrus Drawing]
98 & 99.       ARAB CAVALRYMEN

Iron stirrups were probably introduced from Eastern Persia in the late-7th century, probably in 694. Prior to this date (though for exactly how long is uncertain - perhaps 30 years or more) the Arabs appear to have used wooden stirrups.

98 is based on a 10th century drawing. He carries a sword and a lance called a rumh, often with a bamboo shaft. Usually a dagger was carried as well. Some others at least were bow-armed, though mounted Arab archers are not encountered very often in the sources and seem to have disappeared entirely after the 9th century.

Shields were small, circular and slightly convex, with a binding round the edge. Later sources describe them as wood, metal, leather, or sometimes of various types of wood sewn together with cotton. They were usually brightly painted.

99 is similar to 96 except that over his tunic he wears leather or quilted felt body-armour with short puffed sleeves, probably a bambakion as described under note 3. Constantine Porphyrogenitus is probably referring to armour of this type when he speaks of the Fatimids wearing 'pink-coloured jerkins' instead of mail.

Spurs do not appear to have been worn at this date.



Next: 100 & 101. ARAB HEAVY CAVALRYMEN by Ian Heath
Other Illustrations of Arabian Costume & Soldiers