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A Fifth-Century Cataphract

Here is a photo I took in the Archaeological Museum in Lyon last Spring.  It is of the tombstone of a cataphract from the fifth century.  The cavalryman is followed by an unarmoured infantryman with a large oval shield.  Noteworthy is the evident lack of armour of our cataphract, apart from a lavishly-plumed helmet and possibly some protection to the torso, although that (like the whole depiction) could be no more than convention.  Certainly he has a long stout spear, or a lance.  Perhaps the cataphracti of the fifth-century west were ‘shock’ lancers rather than especially heavily armoured…



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