Incursiune în fenomenul ecvestru geto-dacic. Studiu de caz: zăbala de tip tracic


The horse has been a useful animal to man since time immemorial. If during Palaeolithic and Mesolithic it represented only a food source for the prehistoric hunters, the Neolithic societies, exploited horses in multifunctional ways domesticated. The populations living in the Eurasian steppes were the first to take advantage of the uses generated by horse taming. As a constant source of meat, horse hide and milk, these animals proved to be even more valuable when people began to use them for transporting goods and persons over longer and longer distances. Moreover, was the extensive exploitation of horses that allowed the steppe’s shepherds to live a semi nomadic life and achieve a high military standard. Among the Indo-European populations, the Thracians were known to be a different branch. Horse  breading by this numerous people, neighbour to the tribes of the steppes, could be traced archaeologically, through discoveries that attest an increasing role of the cavalry from one century to another, as well as through the written sources of the Antiquity. These sources, mainly Greek ones, often presented the Thracians as being a belligerent people, owners of thorough bred horses. The ancient authors also mentioned the Getae as neighbours of the Scythians, under the influence of whom they distinguished themselves as skilled horseback archers.

The influences continued with the arrival of Celtic warriors in the area, who came from Central Europe spreading new fashions in military gear, and thus causing the transformation of Geto-Dacian harnessing equipment. This phenomenon became obvious once the ethnic-cultural synthesis between the two peoples took place, in the cultural group Padea - PanaghiurskiKolonii. Beginning with this moment, certain paraphernalia characterizing an elite cavalry began to spread in the area populated by the Dacians, such as pasterns and the Thracian snaffle. We’ve been trying to make a replica for this type of snaffle during an exercise of experimental archaeology. The actual testing of the piece revealed the fact that this model is superior to other types of snaffles, as far as horse control and manoeuvrability are concerned. 

Finally, we concluded that, in the light of archaeological discoveries, ancient sources and   archaeological experiments, the Geto-Dacian horsemen appear to have been warriors and professional horse riders, possessing exceptional harnessing equipment, excellence attained due to their long equestrian tradition, doubled by a remarkable military ingenuity. 

In this complex and permanently changing context, the horses had entered deeply into the Geto-Dacian mentality and spirituality, occupying an important place in the magic-religious beliefs and practices, a visible cultural heritage for the following centuries.