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"Mithridatic wars Galatians - tunics or trousers?" Topic

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Frank the Arkie16 Feb 2017 8:43 p.m. PST

My current project involves late Republican Romans and some of their enemies, including Mithridates VI's Pontic forces. I'd thought about painting up some Galatians, but after some research, I'm not sure what type of figures to utilize.

Of course, the Galatians started out like other Celts – birthday suits or, at best, trousers. That was my initial plan.

But then I came across this (the gentleman in the blue tunic is reputedly Galatian):


which you can find here:


And in Osprey's "The Army of Herod the Great," plate C, figure 2, there's another tunic-wearing Galatian.

So, my friends, this is my dilemma. Do I go with the Hellenistic images and put my Galatians in tunics, etc., or stick with trousers? Any advice or other references helpful for the Mithridatic wars, roughly 80s and 70s B.C.? I realize that its my "army," but I'd like to be somewhere in the historical ballpark with their appearance.

Snowcat16 Feb 2017 10:03 p.m. PST

I think by that date they'd look pretty much like this bloke on the left:

From the Army of Herod the Great as you mentioned.


GarrisonMiniatures Inactive Member17 Feb 2017 2:17 a.m. PST

Galatia had existed for about 150 years by this time so would imagine that, at the very least, the upper classes would have copied the Greek style of dress. So I would go for officers in tunics, rank and file possibly a mix.

Coyotepunc and Hatshepsuut17 Feb 2017 2:29 a.m. PST

Trousers come into their own for horse riding; tunics come into their own for dysentery.

Deuce03 Inactive Member17 Feb 2017 5:28 a.m. PST

I've seen a number of secondary and tertiary sources alleging that Galatians fought naked in this period, but none of them have cited their own sources in turn well enough for me to follow it up, so they might just be repeating stories about earlier Galatians or extrapolating from western Gauls.

I nevertheless suspect Galatia changed significantly between the start of the first century BC and the rise of Herod whose troops are depicted here; Galatia was still divided between a number of tribes and chieftains. If I remember rightly it was only really during the war that the kingdom was really united (and then remained so after Pompey's settlement.) As such I would imagine there was a degree of variety in what troops wore into battle, with some of the more powerful tribes who were on better terms with Pontus or their other neighbours, and/or who had a higher proportion of veteran mercenaries, having become more Hellenised, while other tribes might still have fought in a more traditional Gallic fashion.

In particular, Deiotarus (who rose to power towards the end of the Mithridatic War) was a big fan of Rome and produced imitation legionaries (sufficiently convincing ones that they were later formally adopted as a true Roman legion). The Herodian guard depicted in the second picture would date from after this period, so isn't necessarily indicate pre-Deiotaran wear.

Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP17 Feb 2017 10:31 a.m. PST

The 'Galatian' with facemask is based on terracottas found in Asia Minor. I can't find the reference at the moment, but apparently the attribution was made because the discoverer associated the shields with Galatians. Lots of other terracottas were also found; some of figures which probably represented characters in drama and this 'Galatian' may actually be a stock old soldier character.

Oh Bugger Inactive Member17 Feb 2017 11:19 a.m. PST

I'd go trousers myself, not that there is anything inherently unlikely about just wearing a tunic in very hot weather. However we are talking about high cost mercenaries with a fearsome battle field reputation and trousers were part of the branding as it were.

If the Galatians were still speaking Celtic with a Gallic accent in the time of the Gospels I'd be inclined to think other items of their cultural package survived equally well.

Frank the Arkie18 Feb 2017 6:45 p.m. PST

Interesting comments, all thanks.

The plate I posted above showing the "Galatian" in blue purports to depict a campaign from 140 BC. If its accurate, that would support using some degree of Hellenized appearance before the Mithridatic wars. But Swampster notes that this depiction might be based on a faulty interpretation of the evidence. Deuce03 makes a good argument for holding off on the Hellenized look until after these wars.

Again, thanks for the comments.

And maybe this is a question for another thread – but would the Hellenistic appearance coincide with a change in fighting style, or would the "war band" approach still work?

Marcus Brutus19 Feb 2017 6:11 a.m. PST

In some ways the shift in dress for the Galatians seems similar to the Thracians a couple of hundred years earlier. The power of Hellenization should not be under estimated.

Personal logo BigRedBat Sponsoring Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 6:15 a.m. PST

Galatian in Egyptian service depicted on grave paintings and reproduced in "Le Soldat Lagide" have a mix of Successor and Celtic headgear. Some (the majority) are naked- others have tunics, none have trousers. Most have blue cloaks. One has a bronze breastplate.

Personally I treated them as "war band" in the early period and as heavier formed foot later on. This suits their role which was usually to protect the flanks of the phalanx (as at Magnesia).

Oh Bugger Inactive Member19 Feb 2017 9:27 a.m. PST

I wonder if the naked Galatians in Egyptian were Gaesatae? Which of course would be very good 'branding'.

Personal logo Swampster Supporting Member of TMP19 Feb 2017 4:42 p.m. PST

Even though some Roman authors call them Gallo-graecians, the amount of Hellenisation in Galatia was relatively low. There was little urbanisation and the language remained well into Imperial times.
Many of the people of the area were the original Cappadocian population who may well have continued to wear trousers.
Even if day to day wear did become more Hellenized, the statuettes of Galatians from Ptolemaic Egypt are in more traditional garb. Of course, these could be just showing a stereotype rather than reality, but they are probably the best evidence we have.

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