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edit·history·watch·refresh Stock post message.svg To-do list for Cataphract:

Here are some tasks awaiting attention:
  • Other : * Make sure all information sourced from the general references within the text has appropriate in-line citations. Much of the article is still composed of original work (albeit based upon the general references) or thinly-veiled plagiarism from various internet articles.
    • Expand upon the "Cataphracts in East Asia" section with verifiable sources.
    • Include where possible, higher-quality and more detailed images of cataphracts, historical depictions of cataphracts, recreations of cataphracts, drawings (art or otherwise) and so forth.
    • Re-do "Tactics and Deployment" section to focus more strictly on attributable cataphract strategies employed by their users in antiquity and not simply general tidbits of cataphract history.
    • The inclusion of a section detailing anti-cataphract tactics and how they were countered in antiquity would be appropriate, provided it's relatively brief (in comparison to the Tactics & Deployment section) and well sourced.
    • "Related Cavalry" section requires more relevant and less ambiguous information; the inclusion of how cataphracts specifically inspired or influenced the development of the Knighthood in Europe and paved the way for the era of Feudalism would be appreciated.
    • Double-check that all Greek, Latin and Persian language references and etymological data (including spelling and translation) are accurate. (As not much of it is referenced specifically)

Pyrrhus of Epeiros[edit]

Can anybody provide a citation for the claim that Pyrrhus of Epeiros used Kataphraktoi against the Romans? AFAIK not even the Seleukid Empire used them at that time (only 3 or 4 decades later) - could it be that Sarissophoroi or even Hetiaroi are meant? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 22:24, 30 June 2008 (UTC)

Pyrrhus did not have any cataphracts in his army, in the sense of the cataphract cavalry of this article. I corrected that.

GK1973 (talk) 13:37, 1 April 2009 (UTC)

Citation needed[edit]

The cataphract finally passed into history on May 29, 1453, when the last nation to refer to its cavalrymen as cataphracts fell.[citation needed]

citation needed?? Ever heard of what happened at that date mate? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 01:35, 7 January 2008 (UTC)

East Asian cataphracts[edit]

I came across a picture a while back of an East-Asian (possibly Korean?) cavalryman fitted out like a cataphract. Anyone know what these might have been called, so that I can find out more about them? Searches along the lines of East Asian heavy cavalry aren't turning up anything. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by (talk) 00:54, August 22, 2007 (UTC)

Greek meaning[edit]

I changed the meaning of the word cataphract in greek (i.e. 'closed from all sides'). Being a native greek speaker :-) i know what the words mean.

Regards, Stelios

Ancient Greek is different from Modern, remember . . . UnDeadGoat 01:54, 30 May 2006 (UTC)

Ancient is bit different from Koiné. But during hellenistic period was spoken koiné, very similar byzantine and modern demotic that has only some venetian and turk words more). Artificial Katharevousa (rencostruction of ancient greek grammar) is no more used from 1976. Howewer vocabulary of demotic has into the ancient word also. Example you can use the word feggari (Moon) in common language but also Selene in a poem. The abandonment of the accents is just the result of the reform of 1976 The word in object is probably born in Koiné greek and no in ancient greek. It is very improbable that the ancient greeks that live in mountains and sea area know the heavy cavalry. Surely they know the cataphract in Persian empire as mercenaries and after the 460 BCE with persian wars. The Macedonians fought the scytians and Tracian (famous cataphract cavalry) indeed the Macedonian oplites used long pike very efficient against cavalry as the swiss fantery after centuries later but they spoke koiné. --Andriolo (talk) 22:21, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

literally means "Covered up to bottom". We use a similar expression also in italian "fino in fondo" "to the bottom" that means completely, absolutely covered. The translation proposed of the article is correct. --Andriolo (talk) 22:38, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Edit attribution[edit]

The "heavy edit to remove the incorrect Byzantine specificity" was by me. (Unfortunately my dial-up connection isn't very reliable, and Wikipedia no longer preserves logins across dialups, so I didn't notice that I was no longer logged in when I did the edit.) -- B.Bryant 08:35 26 Jul 2003 (UTC)

Camels have another drawback as cataphract transports: they tire very quickly when heavily loaded. Boys of eight to ten years old are used as jockeys in Middle Eastern camel races.

Dup extracts[edit]

From a dup, possibly useful bits:

Horsemen who constitued Bizantine and Persian Heavy Cavalry. Cataphracts were of high social rank and were mainly nobles.
The byzantine cataphract (circa late 800s a.d.) had extremely advanced equipment for his time. He was armed with a recurve horsebow that was slung across his back when travelling and a quiver of arrows at the left hip attached to the saddle by the means of a leather thong. This bow was far more powerful than the bows used by the common archers. It was made of a strong wood and laminated with thinner strips of springier wood. This gave it a huge armour peircing punch that could pierce a shield at a fairly close range. The cataphracts were also armed with a long-sword. This was of high spring steel and was suitable for both quick thrusts and wide slashes due to its light weight and high manuverability.
The heavy cavalry was also armed with a long lance. This was strong enough to take a heavy impact yet light enough to be flung at an enemy.
The cataphract had a round shield or perhaps a longer kite shield of the Norman type. Also this awesome soldier had extremely high quality armour, even for later times. He was wrapped in scale armour or chain mail that covered him from head to knee. His horse also had a scale or chain barding that covered it's whole body and even plate armour riveted to the neck.

His helmet was of the conical type with a nasal to protect his face.

Stan 23:58, 2 Apr 2004 (UTC)

Image copyright info[edit]

It's important the copyright info can be found for the recent picture uploaded to accompany this article... Nick04 14:13, 14 Jun 2004 (UTC)


I think the introduction is blurry. The term Cataphract was used until the Middle Ages, not only in Antiquity, so not only by the "Greek and later Latin speaking people", but by states such as the Holy Roman Empire or the Kingdom of Spain to designate the heavy armoured cavalry. AdoniCtistai 11:41, 29 July 2006 (UTC)


I support merging in Heavy cavalry. Tom Harrison Talk 12:26, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

I support merging this article in Heavy cavalry too. AdoniCtistai 13:10, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

It might be keept, as long as it strictly refers to the history of Greek heavy armoured cavalry, to be something simmilar to the article Hippeis. However, this could cause confusion, as the term Cataphract had ceased to be used soley by the Ancient Greeks, or only by Greek speakers. AdoniCtistai 13:15, 29 July 2006 (UTC)

Currently Oppose merging due to thsi article being much larger than the Heavy cavalry article. It would be a shame to loose information on the Kataphraktoi and at the same time I fear that the merger would drown the Heavy cavalry's general meaning in Cataphract information. Similar reason I sure why the Knights article was not merged with the category article. It would be nice though to incorporate elements from this article and the myriad of other armoured horse articles within the Heavy cavalry page to flesh it out.--Dryzen 17:20, 4 August 2006 (UTC)

Oppose this merger because heavy cavalry ought to be expanded to include the whole of its history, not just its Roman and Persian history. Cataphract is not synonymous with heavy cavalry. Knights were also heavy cavalry, for example. Srnec 04:34, 6 August 2006 (UTC)

"Cataphract is not synonymous with heavy cavalry" - than please tell me what are the differences, by copy-pasting from the article? And if you suggest to "expand heavy cavalry as to include the whole of its history, not just its Roman and Persian history" than wouldn`t we get to the same proposale I`ve made, as for this article to strictly refer to the history of Greek heavy armoured cavalry, pretty much like Hippeis does? AdoniCtistai 10:38, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
I oppose for the same reason. Stephen Aquila 01:14, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

Oppose - cataphract is an expansion of a particular type of heavy cavalry. The entry should be amended to remove unnecessary duplicate information that already exists under heavy cavalry. Deathwing 13:30, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

"cataphract is an expansion of a particular type of heavy cavalry" - which "particular type" ? You could either argumentate with your own words, or copy-paste from the article. AdoniCtistai 10:38, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Oppose. This article is big enough to warrent the maintainment of its own independence.--KrossTalk 15:03, 8 August 2006 (UTC)

And to contain what? Phrases like "The term, being a purely military one, should be seen from a literal point rather than a practical one"? Than I ask again, what is the difference between cataphract and heavy-cavalry? This is soooooooooooo funny!!!!!! I was the one who proposed the merge, and I was too the one which eidted the article in an attempt to make it more clear. I was the one who changed the beggining of the article. Here is how it looked like before I changed it LOOK!. Can you read what is says: "The word cataphract (from the Greek κατάφρακτος) was what Greek- and later Latin-speaking peoples used to describe heavy cavalry." So, for THE THIRD time, what is the difference between cataphract and heavy cavalry? AdoniCtistai 10:38, 9 August 2006 (UTC)
Today the term cataphract is only used to describe the heavy cavalry of the Greeks, Romans, and Persians of Antiquity and the Byzantines of a later date. It never describes the knights of the Middle Ages, though they were certainly heavy cavalry, not light. Furthermore, would the term "cataphract" be used to describe the heavy cavalry elements used in some Germanic armies, like that of the Ostrogoths? While cataphract may originally be merely the Greek for heavy cavalry, it is clear that today it would not be used to describe much other than the cavalry of the Hellenised world. See the article on heavy cavalry. Srnec 17:30, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Oppose. Serves pretty much the same purpose as knight, dragoon, sipahi and hussar. Like pointed out by others, cataphract is a type of heavy cavalry. It's no different than keeping siege engine and trebuchet separate. Peter Isotalo 14:45, 16 August 2006 (UTC)

Oppose I agree with Isotalo. Cataphracts were a type of heavy cavalry. If we merge them, valuable informationa bout the cataphracts will be lost. — Preceding unsigned comment added by Arsaces (talkcontribs) 10:53, 12 October 2011 (UTC)

Dictionary def. of Cataphract[edit]

Cat·a·phract n. (kăt"ȧ*frăkt)

  1. (Mil. Antiq.) Defensive armor used for the whole body and often for the horse, also, esp. the linked mail or scale armor of some eastern nations.
  1. A horseman covered with a cataphract.
I wonder if a Knight would be included in this? lol.... AdoniCtistai 10:58, 9 August 2006 (UTC)

Archers and slingers, cataphracts, and spears. Milton.

  1. (Zoöl.) The armor or plate covering some fishes.

I would like to point out that cataphracts (or at least, what many scholars translate the armoured cavalry dating vaguely from the 4th to 8th century to) where also used in China roughly from the last years of the Three Kingdoms Era to the Early Tang when the heavily armoured cataphract horse was superceded by the much faster horse archer.

Semi-Lobster 9:20 04 November 2006

Counter -tactics[edit]

Quite a nice article this - I think that a small section on tactics used to neutralise Cataphracts would add value too - how did people fight against them? Having said that - the article is quite long anyway.--Gavinio 10:22, 24 December 2006 (UTC)

Cavalry effective against tightly formed infantry?[edit]

Hi, i was wondering how effective a cavalry charge was against infantry in general? More specifically disiplined men who are in a tight formation that maybe the Romans would have fought in or phalanx-like tightness? I was under the impression cavalry would not charge headlong into infantry that stands its ground, yet the article gives examples of the cataphracts charging masses of infantry like the romans even when in the testudo formation. It also says they would have cavalry charge infantry in "knee to knee" form, which i take to mean side by side? i thought cavalry had to have a good amount of space to manuver so there was by necessity a lot of space between horses? finally the article makes mention of cavalry charging, reforming and charging again. My question is once you commit your horse to the initial charge how are you able to disengage it from the melee and get away? it would seem that if you penetrated into the infantry formation and they didn't run then you'd have a hard time wheeling your horse 180 degrees and getting away. did they only charge formations a couple to a few ranks deep? seems like any deeper and the cavalry would be caught and bogged down by the people around it. thanks Dmcheatw 23:41, 6 June 2007 (UTC)

The short answer to the question of "is cavalry effective against infantry" is that it depends on the infantry and the cavalry. With excellent discipline, such as the Romans were famous for, then cavalry had a hard time being effective. But Europeans made cavalry the dominant military unit for nearly a thousand years. If it was easy to make cheaper to equip and train infantry units defeat them then this would not have occurred.
If a cavalry unit charged disciplined infantry that did not break then the cavalry would wheel away before making contact. That last part answers your other question about multiple charges. A cavalry unit that failed to do so, such as the result of insufficient discipline and/or coordination, would get attacked by the infantry.
If the cavalry penetrated into the infantry formation then it was hard for the infantry to survive. Being on horseback is such an advantage against infantry. And the morale issue is important. Being overwhelmed by men on thousand pound steeds and clad head-to-toe in metal armour is rather demoralizing.
"Knee to knee" is possible amongst well disciplined cavalry that have trained together. In fact it makes the cavalry charge more effective, because there are no openings to be exploited by the enemy.

Mercutio.Wilder 04:43, 7 June 2007 (UTC)

Additionally, as noted in the article, missile fire was used prior to the charge to make the infantry formation loosen Mercutio.Wilder 04:49, 7 June 2007 (UTC)
almost forgot about this thread. thanks for the responses, that was pretty much along the lines of what i was thinking but i've never worked with horses to any great extent so i wasn't sure how the situation actually would play out.Dmcheatw 06:57, 14 June 2007 (UTC)

I have done a lot of research and found that yes, cavalry can charge home head on into the front of solid infantry, and if they did it was ideally followed up on by lighter cavalry or infantry

Polish Winged Hussar (talk) 01:28, 3 April 2010 (UTC) Polish Winged Hussar

How did Cataphracts charge[edit]

Hi all, greetings from Bulgaria! There are a couple of things I was wondering about, concerning heavy cavalry (more precisely it's tactics) and I assumed (correctly) that the article about cataphracts could help me. So - was it ever an accepted tactic for the cavalry to engage units of infantry, which did not rud but stood their ground during the horsemen's charge? Were lances discarded after the initial impact with the enemy, or they were often used as a primary weapon during the following melee?

The lances were supported by a chain attached to the horse's neck, and at the end by a fastening attached to the horse's hind leg, so the full momentum of horse was behind the thrust. One reason for this was the lack of stirrups; although the Roman saddle had four horns to secure the rider (Driel-Murray & Connolly), the impact of a lance might well unseat them.

This seems interesting and logical, but on both of the illustrations in the article the horsemen are holding their spears with high rear end and blade facing downward. I cannot imagine how the spear could be strapped to the horse's rear leg to prevent unseating the rider upon impact.

I have never come across any mention of chains, the assertion is not referenced (unlike the horned Romano-Celtic saddle), the whole idea sounds impractical to me.

The long kontos-kontarion lance was usually wielded with two hands, which is why many cataphracts had either no shields or just a small one strapped to the upper arm.

Nikephoros II Phokas re-introduced the super-heavy cavalryman to the Byzantine army. These were called the klibanophoroi and were heavily protected with mail, lamellar, splinted and soft (quilted) armour, and rode armoured horses. They were very expensive and were few in number. They were drawn up in a blunt wedge formation with lighter armoured mounted-archers in the centre. Their role seems to have been to deliver a mounted shock to break open the enemy's formation after which more conventional cavalry would be used to exploit the break-through.

Urselius 13:50, 10 August 2007 (UTC)

The formatting of the article[edit]

I don't like it. The introduction (that part of the article, above the "content") is far too big for a section, aimed to provide basic definition of the thing that is being explored in the following article. "Equipment, tactics and history" could also be split, because virtually the whole article is concentrated under this headline.

Best regards :)

Under "Related Cavalry"[edit]

"The tough skin of elephants afforded them considerable protection and the armour worn made them almost invulnerable to projectiles. Cavalry were also frightened by the smell of the elephants[citation needed] which allowed them to be used as massive organic fortifications against cavalry maneuvers on the battlefield. The Parthians and Sassiands also did this."

It's pointless to say they are organic fortifications, most fortifications in the field, siege-towers etc. were built of wood, therefore organic.

Aksel 89 Oct 27th 5:30PM 2008

East Asian Cataphracts[edit]

I could kiss whoever added the info on Asia. I've been hoping for a long time that someone knew something about this and I wasn't just crazy. Wish you would have cited it, though, so I could get my hands on the relevant literature. :P (talk) 00:58, 6 December 2008 (UTC)

Please maintain uniform spelling of Armor/Armour[edit]

After just rewriting this grammatical abomination, it's stunning to see that no one picked out the alternating spelling of the word: armor, constantly switching back and forth between British and American conventions throughout the article. Please, in the future stick to ONE variant and make this article more consistent. The same is true for various other words which changed between Z's and S's for words with the "ise/ize" suffix and so on.

For now I've maintained American spelling conventions throughout the entire article for the sake of uniformity. Consistency is quality after all. Let's keep it that way.

Gamer112 (talk) 18:17, 4 May 2009 (UTC)

Complete Overhaul...[edit]

Changes I've made:

  • Condensed introduction to fit encyclopaedic standards. The previous incarnation was more like a short story and far too detailed for an introduction.
  • Divided article into appropriate sections. Self-explanatory, the previous edition was a jumbled mass of facts and figures under one banner, "Equipment, tactics and history", which is just poor form.
  • Heavily expanded upon the 'Origins and Beginnings' of Cataphract cavalry. Previous editions had absolutely no mention of the role of Selective Breeding, Animal Husbandry, the Indo-Iranians or the Median Empire in the evolution of the horse to be physically able to support the design and role of a cataphract; let alone any explanation as to how the Indo-Iranian steppe peoples of Central Asia passed these traditions and knowledge of heavy cavalry onto the Ancient Iranian peoples.
  • Etymological data was also lacking, there were no references to the origin of "Clibanarii" and what exactly it meant in Greek or Latin respectively, as was the argument on the distinctions between Clibanarii and Cataphractarii and whether they constituted different forms of cavalry. All that has been fixed.
  • I removed much useless deliberation on the "what-ifs" and "possibilities" of Cataphracts and their use and deployment in Antiquity.
  • I've added appropriate in-line citations for my inclusions and tried to reference previous material from sources that seem to match the general gist of it, but I couldn't cover every previous bit of original work as I really wasn't sure as to the origin. I've tried to remove as much of it as possible.
  • Expanded upon the article's numerous references to the Ancient Persians (Achaemenids, Parthians, Sassanids), as it was lacking in a balanced presentation of Eastern (which is where cataphract cavalry was born essentially) and Western perspectives on cataphracts.
  • Added and corrected numerous links throughout the article to better reflect related content on Wikipedia.
  • Removed 2 pictures, added 4 new ones. Finally managed to find a desperately needed, free-use image of an ACTUAL cataphract (as opposed to the numerous vague and low-quality rock carvings this article was littered with before), in this case a fairly accurate historical recreation that at least shows the user what a cataphract should appear like instead of having them rely on imagination alone.
  • Related Cavalry section to me is questionable in its inclusion. There wasn't much I could do with this, it was a confusing list of POSSIBLE analogues in military units fielded by ancient armies that may have been variations of, or inspired by, the cataphract. I say may because there is no definitive proof Clibanarii were distinct from Cataphracts and not just another term for them, likewise relating cataphracts to war elephants is dubious at best but I have left it in there for now.
  • I have made a few mentions of the greater strategic, cultural and political implications cataphracts made later on in the Middle Ages, especially relating to the rise of Feudalism in Europe and Knights. There is plenty of attributable information from notable historians out there regarding how the late Sassanid and Byzantine Empire's usage of cataphracts, particularly the social standing attached to them and connotations of nobility, inspired it's neighbours, particularly the Germanic, Frankish, Slavic and Turkic ones, to adopt their own heavily armored cavalry corps that were intrinsically attached to the upper classes. This then paved the way for Feudalist, medieval states to rise up which were wholly led by elite castes of noble, mounted warriors in many societies across Europe (partly because standing armies were reduced to miltia and assorted rabble during the Dark Ages). It needs some expansion and detail but it's a very valid and very important theme that needs to be underlined in this article (after Feudalism forever changed the political and cultural divisions of Europe forever). Perhaps attached to the Related Cavalry section.
  • Cataphracts in East Asia I left as is, save for rewording it for encyclopaedic conventions and adding little tidbits which I could source from articles. This section out of all needs the most improvement and verifiable sources attached to it.

If anyone has any objections, corrections, or remarks in regards to any changes I've made, then by all means bring them up.

Gamer112(Aus) (talk) 15:07, 8 May 2009 (UTC)

Sutton Hoo Helm?[edit]

I didn't know late Roman cavalry officers wore Anglo-Saxon ceremonial spangenhelms. Saethwyr (talk) 14:00, 13 June 2009 (UTC)

Yes the re-enactor is wearing gear based on the Sutton Hoo burial of an Anglo-Saxon king of the early 7th century (probably Raedwald). However, the helmet isn't a spangenhelm, neither is it a true 'ridge helmet.' If anything it could be characterised as a 'pseudo-ridge helmet.' The fore to aft ridge is there, but unlike in true ridge helmets where the ridge served to attach the two halves of the skullcap together the ridge on the Sutton Hoo helmet is purely decorative, as the skull was of a single piece. The apparent "sections" are just an assembly of pieces of thin, tinned-bronze, embossed with decoration applied to the outer surface of the helmet.Urselius (talk) 21:48, 20 June 2009 (UTC)

Lack of references and off-topic excursions[edit]

  • I removed the whole section Indo-Iranian Origins. It digresses a lot from the topic, is almost unreferenced in all its assertions and features a discernable drift to attribute the development of the cataphract to the Iranian people. The referenced section "Early armoured riders" shows that this is not so. Note that the move is not against the incorporation of prerequisites of the cataphract like animal breeding and certain social factors. I am very much in favour of that, but these questions have to be tackled in close connection to the rise of the cataphracts, otherwise it is merely WP:SYN which it is now.
  • I reintroduced the referenced material on the early Roman experience. In fact, the Roman legions were victorious in their first encounters with eastern cataphracts and the Roman foot-soldiers also continued to score successes after Carrhae. In the course of the first centuries, the Sarmatian threat on the Danube frontier, and not just the Parthians/Sassanids, played an integral role at the gradual adoption of heavy cavalry.
  • Last but not least, the article should get more clear about what a cataphract actually is. Because, as it happened, armoured riders not conventionally known by that name were also known to the Assyrians as well as the Romans from an early date. Where to integrate them? Gun Powder Ma (talk) 01:32, 1 October 2009 (UTC)

Spread to Central Asia and the Near East[edit]

I have a few issues with the information presented in this section:

- It tends to assume the reader is already highly-educated & well-versed on a number of civilisations present in the Near East during Classic Antiquity, as well as jumping to the conclusion that using complex and obscure terminology (Chorasmian, Khwarezm, Nimrud, the personal names of Assyrian Kings) is perfectly understandable by an average audience. There is simply not enough context or background information presented in this section to sufficiently explain the relevance of half of the terms mentioned nor tie this information in with the rest of the article. It seems detached from the rest of the article and highly specified on a select few historical tidbits, when the introductory sections of the article should be building up a general idea of where and how cataphracts came into fruition, not specifying how "an Assyrian king named X armed some of his men with bows in 7XX BC..." and trailing off on irrelevant tangents. Only be specific when necessary, don't go into trivial details that only niches of the Wikipedia audience are going to comprehend.

- The last paragraph seems to be not only contradictory but misleading. It claims that even by the 4th and 3rd Centuries BC virtually no one within the Eastern or Western Hemispheres of the Ancient World was using cataphracts or very heavily-armoured cavalry in battle and the rudimentary records of heavy cavalry employed in Classic Antiquity by the Assyrians, Persians, Eastern Iranian groups seemed to have had absolutely zero influence so far on the evolution of warfare. Wrong. Plain wrong.

The Achaemenids had prominently displayed cataphracts to the Greeks on numerous occasions, most notably at Gaugamela (where a contingent of Scythian cataphract mercenaries were deployed [1]), not to mention the Selecuid Empire practically embraced these heavily-armored horsemen traditions (as they did with many Persian traditions) and developed their own Cataphract corps from mercenaries sourced from conquered Persia [2]. Development of Greek Cataphracts:[3]

Not to mention Alexander the Great's famous Companion Cavalry, which served as his elite shock troops and were from all accounts partially or fully armored, with the rider wearing a bronze cuirass and the horse being draped in leather and felt to protect it from missiles. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Gamer112 (talkcontribs) 05:02, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

During the 3rd Century especially, Scythian incursions on the Pontic-Caspian steppe were gaining the attention of Greco-Roman Civilisation, particularly once the Scythians established themselves in Tanais. Phillip II of Macedon led a major campaign against the Scythians in 342BC in which he faced numerous heavily-armoured horsemen and defeated Scythian king Areas. Strabo also prominently recounts the first century of Greek contact with the Scythians in Western Asia.

- It seems to over-emphasize the importance of the contributions the Assyrians made in relation to the developement of the Cataphract. Aside from scant reliefs found in Nimrud, we have virtually no idea if the Assyrians continued to use heavily-armored cavalary, if they ever developed them to a stage where the horse was entirely clad in armor as well and for how long or in which engagements these horsemen served. Furthermore the Assyrians never practiced selective animal husbandry or horse-breeding, which was absolutely vital to the future developement of true cataphract horses.

Compared to hundreds of records and first-hand accounts of Persian and Ancient Iranian cataphracts from both Eastern & Western sources, being utilised successively from the days of the Achaemenid Empire right up until the fall of the Sassanids, it seems almost trivial to place such a strong focus on the Assyrians within the opening sections. A slight rewording is needed to reiterate that it is the Ancient Iranian peoples who we can directly attribute the developement & use of cataphract-like cavalry at the earliest possible date.

Vague reliefs in the Nimrud do not constitute conclusive proof the Assyrians developed real Cataphract-like cavalry at an earlier date. Gamer112(Aus) (talk) 06:26, 11 October 2009 (UTC)

Ammianus Marcellinus, renowned Roman general and ancient historian, describing the sight of Persian cataphracts approaching Roman infantry in Asia Minor, circa 4th Century BC." Shouldn't this be AD?Keith-264 (talk) 18:39, 13 October 2009 (UTC)


If you are magnanimous enough to forgive my ignorance, you may also enlighten it. Who was Sisennus? Richard Keatinge (talk) 20:36, 12 October 2009 (UTC)

Sisennus is the Hellenic rendition of Sicinnus, a slave of Themistocles, who was present during the Second Persian invasion of Greece and recorded the outcome of numerous battles during the Greco-Persian Wars. Gamer112(Aus) (talk) 05:43, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

The slave of Themistocles? I'd heard of him, but not that he ever wrote anything. Do you have a primary reference, or at least one a little easier of access? Richard Keatinge (talk) 15:57, 13 October 2009 (UTC)

Sorry to press, but you apparently have a reference for a Greek slave writing Latin in 480 BCE. This is remarkable enough that we do need a little more detail. Would you be kind enough to check your reference, and if possible give the relevant text with a primary reference? Richard Keatinge (talk) 07:04, 14 October 2009 (UTC)

The reconstructed cataphract?[edit]

It doesnt quite match the description the roman historians have given (No plates , only mail armor); instead it is deliberately made to resemble the muslim cavalry of the crusades era. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 21:09, 4 May 2010 (UTC) (talk) 21:11, 4 May 2010 (UTC) Goshtaasp

Well, by all means quote some anachronistic descriptions of Cataphracts by the Romans stating otherwise. To me this 3rd century CE Roman rendition seems to confirm the reconstruction as rather accurate:

Second, you do realise the Arab Caliphate, once conquering the Sassanid Empire, adopted and embraced many of the Persian traditions, systems of governance, laws, customs, military strategies and technologies? Resemblance between "Muslim" armies of the Medieval era and those the Sassanid or Parthian Empires is quite logical, not coincidental or as you claim some of kind of subtle, "deliberate" smear perhaps.

And third, there is no typical archetype of cavalry one can identify as being quintessentially "Muslim". I assume you're referring to those from the Caliphate armies (Abbasids & Fatimids), since you mention the Crusades, which for the most part were Light Cavalry and in complete contrast to European Knights/Paladins/Cavaliers, were very lightly armoured relying on leather or wooden shields and being fitted in chainmail.

Muslim Cavalry varied widely throughout the ages. Compare the Ottoman Sipahis to the Egyptian Mamluk Cavalry.Gamer112(Aus) (talk) 08:39, 14 June 2010 (UTC)

The picture that you posted was of a parthian horseman , the reconstructed cataphract is suppoed to belong to the sassanid period and is historically inaccurate and distorted ; because the helmet is typical of the post islamic era , and the horse is covered in thick full body armored (which is quite contradictory) , the sassanids used lighter armor only for the frontal half of the horse as their charging was more systematic. The reconstructed cataphract simply does not match any of the types dating back to the pre-islamic era.

I know about all the sassanid contributions to the islamic caliphate and their successive states but you should realize for yourself how this reconstruction is a hijacking of the sassanid era achievements.

And i believe i was correct when i used the term muslim cavalry because the crusaders were driven back by a confederation of seperate muslim states , not by a caliphate.

Kermanii (talk) 14:59, 17 October 2011 (UTC)

My edits[edit]

Let me start by saying that in view of both what you do and what you say, I don't believe in your good faith and I think you're just seeking conflict based on a WP:OWN issue you apparently have with the article. Hence, I will explain my edits for the record and will revert once, then I'll waste no more time on this. First of all, if you don't see how some of my rewordings that are better, but you don't see anything wrong with them either (as suggested by the fact that you characterize them as "pointless synonym switching" and "generally unnecessary rewording" in your edit summary), then it's dickish of you to revert. If no harm is done, why start a conflict? The "burden of evidence" rule does not mean that you must revert *any* change whose improving qualities you don't immediately grasp - which happens to be any change to your own precious edits - which you apparently assume to be perfect by default. In fact, the "burden of evidence" lies with the editor who adds or restores material, not with the editor who makes any change at all, as you claimed on my talk page ("the burden of proof lies with the editor making new changes to an article, particularly when you remove or otherwise alter other editor's changes that have been made previously"). BTW, that wording is particularly nonsensical, since any change that is done on a Wiki article "alters other editors' changes that have been made previously". You haven't really bothered to give any content-based argument against any of my edits, and instead follow the principle "I revert cuz I can". Now for the specific explanations of my specific edits:

1. "The genesis is undoubtedly Greek" -> "The origin of the word is Greek".

"Genesis" is less clear and less usual in etymological context than "origin". I added "of the word", because it's important to avoid the misinterpretation that it is the origin of the word, not the origin of the phenomenon that is Greek. "Undoubtedly" is superfluous and unnecessarily emphatic, it appears to suggest that someone has disputed it or that something else about the issue is doubtful, and nothing really is. The Earth is round, you don't need to write in the article Earth that "The Earth is undoubtedly round".

2. "Ancient Persian military such as that of the Medes" -> "Ancient Iranian military such as that of the Medes"

As I clearly explained in my edit summary, "Iranian" is a more general concept than "Persian". The Medes were Iranian, but as an ethnic group they were normally distinguished from the Persians both in classical sources and in modern literature. Hence, "Ancient Persian military such as that of the Medes" is wrong, just like "English legends such as those of the Scots". If one wants to unite them under a cover term, one should use "British legends".

3. "the Persian dynasties that followed them" -> the Persian dynasties that followed them (the Achaemenids, Arsacids, and Sassanids).

This is a specification and a clarification which adds information for the readers. Since we're talking about ancient military, I have not included Muslim dynasties. I can't fathom what you could dislike about it, except that it's a change to your precious text.

4. "The cataphracts deployed by the Byzantine Empire (most noticeably after the 7th century when Late Latin ceased to be the official language of the empire) were exclusively referred to as Kataphraktoi, due to the Byzantine Empire's strong Greek influence."

I added a clarification tag here, which you now have addressed by adding "as opposed to the Romanized term Cataphractos, which subsequently fell out of use". It's good that this time, you managed to abstain from simply reverting as is your custom, but the text is still not satisfactory. First of all, the correct Latin nominative singular is cataphractus, not cataphractos; the nominative plural corresponding to kataphraktoi would be cataphracti (and these two were, as a matter of fact, most likely pronounced identically by the eighth century). In case you thought that official Byzantine Late Latin would have generalized the accusative plural in -os, that's wrong, too; its grammar was basically identical to Classical Latin, and a similar confusion of cases may only have happened in Vulgar Latin, and that only of varieties north and west of the La Spezia-Rimini Line, which would have been quite irrelevant to the Byzantines. Second, it is just ridiculous to explicitly point out that the term cataphracti was replaced by kataphraktoi: the word doesn't change at all, only the language does (along with the alphabet and consequently the standard English transcription) - from Latin to Greek. The grammatical ending changes, because it simply has to according to the rules of the respective languages. Of course cataphracti "fell out of use" and was replaced by kataphraktoi - how could they use Latin grammar in the midst of a Greek sentence? Both the "Latinization" and "Hellenization" were absolutely automatic. It's like specifying that as Elsace went from French to German hands and the official language changed, "luck" stopped being referred to as "la chance" and began to be referred to exclusively as "die Chance", and "les compliments" fell out of use, whereas "die Komplimenten" replaced them. And by the way, it's rather sloppy to say that the Byzantine Empire had a "strong Greek influence", it simply had Greek as its primary spoken and, after one point, official language, and Greeks as its dominant ethnic group.

I will reiterate that I explained this for the benefit of third parties who might read this, not because I expect any meaningful reaction or constructive behaviour on your part - I absolutely don't. That'll be all from me.-- (talk) 14:46, 4 September 2010 (UTC)

Illyrian Cataphracts[edit]

The article mentions Illyrian cataphracts. This obviously sounded suspicious. So I checked the source and this is what it said: "At the turn of our era, cataphracts with defensive armament for horses were considered typical of the national army for Armenians, Albanians, and Midians (Strab. XI. 4.4–5), p. 502;XI.14.9, p. 530)."

There was also a footnote attached to this sentence: "The ethnic groups named here do not perfectly correlate with modern-day Albanians and Figure 5. A horseman with two-handed [dvuruchnyi] lance: an engraving on a sixth-century dish from Isola Rizza (from Boss 1993). Armenians. This is relevant to current politics of national history concerning the origins of “White Albanians.” For more on the politicization of debates about ancestral correlations, see Victor A. Shnirelman, The Value of the Past: Myths, Identity and Politics in the Transcaucasus (Osaka: National Museum of Ethnology, 2001)."

So this means that a previous author made a big mistake. It's clearly the Caucasian Albanians that are meant. Hence I shall edit the article to reflect this.

Titirius (talk) 15:45, 18 January 2011 (UTC)

The Frank cataphracts and frisian horses where are they ????[edit]

We must write something of the golden age of cataphract cavalry. The Franks and the heavy Frisian horses.

--Andriolo (talk) 22:58, 7 April 2011 (UTC)

Cataphracts and the Strategikon[edit]

Maurice discusses horse armor among the standard cavalry equipment. So in theory all Byzantine cavalry were supposed to have at least some of the distinctive equipment of the cataphracts. In practice, the horse armor might have been an impediment to the cursores, but I think this suggests that the term cataphract fell out of use because all units were supposed to be cataphracts, and came back into use when, once again, only some units could be equipped as cataphracts. (talk) 20:25, 16 January 2012 (UTC)


I made a start copy-editing this (long) article in the Etymology section but gave up before bringing it up to anything like satisfactory standards. Much remains to be done to improve the English throughout the article, which is generally unpolished, unidiomatic, or unclear. (I also fixed some of the Greek, which in most instances should conform to ancient, not modern Greek rules of accentuation and aspiration.)Prohairesius (talk) 10:50, 22 June 2012 (UTC)

Having trouble understanding a sentence[edit]

I've re-read the following sentence a few times, and I can't understand the meaning well enough to re-write it confidently:

The successive Persian Empires that followed the Medes after their downfall in 550 BC took these already long-standing military tactics and horse-breeding traditions and infused their centuries of experience and veterancy from conflicts against the Greek city-states, Babylonians, Assyrians, Indo-Scythians, and North Arabian tribes with the significant role cavalry played not only in warfare but everyday life to form a military reliant almost entirely upon armored horses for battle.

Maybe someone with more experience in the subject can take it on. --Slashme (talk) 16:14, 20 January 2014 (UTC)