This is a beautifully decorated and complete solid bronze early prick spur of the Roman Imperial Empire. It would have been used by a mounted cavalry warrior of high status judging by the elaborate designs compared to ordinary cast examples that lack any design. It is likely this spur would have been worn by a mounted officer. Ancient Roman military officers always displayed their rank by more decorative equipment. This choice example is COMPLETE AND UNBROKEN with excellent bronze patina. Such an item, in the Early Imperial Roman era, would have been extremely expensive, out of reach for the average Roman. An important and recommended artifact for collectors of Ancient Roman militaria. INTACT AND COMPLETE WITH NO REPAIR OR RESTORATION.
Be wary of modern copies that have been around for many decades and sold to unsuspecting tourists, as well as found every day in online auctions and curio shops. In our own museum lab facility, we subject to rigorous inspection and authentic every artifact we offer for sale, accompanied by a written lifetime, unconditional guarantee of authenticity and proper identification.
Before the Imperial Era, Romans always relied on their allies to provide cavalry. These were known as the Foederati. A typical Consular army of the 2nd Punic War would have much more Italian cavalry. As the Italian citizens gained citizenship by the time of Social War and the Legionary cavalry became less, most cavalry were provided by allied nations from Numidia, Greece, Thrace, Iberia, Gaul and Germania. Such as at the Battle of Zama where the majority of cavalry were Numidians. Most the cavalry in Caesar's campaigns were Gauls and Germans. These units were not part of the regular Roman army and were bound by treaties. These often were armed with their own native equipment and were led by native chiefs.
When the Republic transitioned into the Empire, Augustus made a regular Auxilia corp of non-citizen soldiers. These professional Roman soldiers, like the Legions, were subjects recruited from the non-citizens in provinces controlled by Rome that had strong native cavalry traditions. These men, unlike the Allied Foederetii cavalry, were a regular part of the Roman army and were paid and trained by the Roman State. Arrian describes them as well-equipped and performing well-executed maneuvers. A typical cavalrymen of the Ala would be paid 20 percent more than a typical citizen legionary.
Roman Auxilia cavalry were usually heavily armored in mail and armed with a short lance, javelins, the Spatha long sword, and sometimes bows for specialist Horse archer units. These men primarily served as Medium missile cavalry for flanking, scouting, skirmish, and pursuit. As opposed to more modern cavalry units where the horses were kept in stables separate from the riders, Roman cavalry housed the riders and horses in the same barracks.
By the time of the 3rd century, the Constitutio Antoniniana granted all peoples citizenship rights, and citizen cavalry was in use technically. Gallienus in 260 created a mobile reserve cavalry corps to respond to the empire's threats. By the 4th century, large numbers of heavily armored cavalry units such as cataphractarii, clibinarii, started to appear. These units were armed with a large spear, a sword and a bow. However, the primary strength of the Roman army remained the infantry.
Roman cavalry did not have a stirrup. The device was introduced to Europe by invading tribes after the collapse of the Roman Empire.
The Classic Roman Empire was a unique association of peoples and places such as the Mediterranean World had never seen before. What had been a patchwork of Hellenistic monarchies, independent city-states, and Celtic tribes was miraculously united into one great political entity. At its peak rule, the Roman Empire stretched from Spain to Syria and England to Egypt. Much of the success of the Empire can be attributed to the protection afforded by its near invincible war machine, the Roman army. Many tactics and weapons were first pioneered by this massive military force and just the thought of having to challenge this entity thwarted many a foreign enemy. Those that were brave (or foolish) enough to go up against Rome's military were quickly made examples of to the rest of the world. The technology and strength of the Roman military was the guardian of this great society in the West for some 500 years.
Our modern world today benefits much from a host of technological innovations first given to us by the ancient Romans. From simple inventions such as blown glass and underground sewer systems to major concepts in engineering and the Roman calendar.