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Stratum plus. 2019. No4

V. V. Gorbunov (Barnaul, Russian Federation)

Armored Cavalry of the Xiongnu and Xianbi: Reconstructing Armor and Equipment

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Pages: 39-50

In the field of military history, visual materials allow you to see both the weapons, and the means for their carrying and use. With poor preservation of the sources, the researchers try to raise their informativity by employing the method of reconstruction. We have created reconstructions of sets of weapons and equipment, which belonged to nomadic warriors from Central Asia. The first reconstruction depicts the Xiongnu’ armored cavalry from the middle of the 1st century BC — beginning of the 1st century AD. The warrior is protected by an armor and a helmet, armed with a sword, a dagger and a bow with arrows. His horse is equipped with a bridle and a saddle. To recreate the armor and equipment of the warrior and his horse, materials of the Xiongnu culture of Mongolia and Transbaikalia were used, as well other similar materials of the Han culture from China. The second reconstruction depicts a Xianbi heavily armed rider of the beginning of the 4th century AD, from Murong’s clan: a warrior dressed in armor and helmet, armed with spear and sword. His horse aside from a bridle and a saddle has a protective blanket and a mask. To recreate the armor and equipment of the warrior and his war horse, the materials of Xianbi culture of South-Western Manchuria were used. A reconstruction of nomadic warriors demonstrates not only changes in weapons and equipment, but also the development of tactics. Armored cavalry of the Xiongnu used bow and arrows as their main weapons, and their tactic was based on a massive shooting of the enemy from a far distance. Heavily armed horsemen of Xianbi-Murong formed compactly closed orders, which caused ramming spears blow to crack the ranks of the enemy, after which he completed his defeat in close combat.

Keywords: Central Asia, late antiquity, Xiongnu, Xianbi, arming, equipment, military-historical reconstruction

Information about author:

Vadim Gorbunov
(Barnaul, Russian Federation). Doctor of Historical Sciences. Altai State University. Lenin Ave., 61, Barnaul, 656049, Russian Federation
E-mail: [email protected]

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