The Draco Standard was originally developed by the cavalry peoples of the steppes, such as the Sarmatians and the Alans, but also by the Parthians and the Sassanid Persians. It may have been used to determine the wind-direction for the horse archers. Arrian described it as a long sleeve, 'made by sewing pieces of dyed material together'. This sleeve/tube hung limp when the rider was at rest, but on the move it flew like a serpent and whistled in the wind. The hollow head, in the form of a toothed dragon, was formed from metal and the wind passing through it would extend the cloth tube tail attached to the neck of the head. The Draco was also used by the Dacians (or their allies) and no less than 20 of these are shown on Trajan's Column.
Not all such standards had dragonheads attached. On Trajan's Column some heads look more like a dog (with ears) than a dragon. Another one has a much more serpentine head, and scalloped rings attached to the tail. Other standards had no heads at all, just the fabric tube, while some had heads looking like wolves or even fishes. These had protruding ears and fins.
The earliest Draco (dracones) found in Dacia dating back to the fourth century BC, was used as their military standard. They considered themselves "Sons of Light" and had the Draco made from three colors, red - representing morning, yellow - representing the noon and blue - representing the dusk. After the occupation of Dacia the Romans enlisted the Dacians into their army. Dacian Cohort's spread throughout the empire, in Britannia they were assigned to defend Hadrian's Wall. The Romans adopted the Draco as a military standard. Legio XIII Gemina which was stationed at Apulum (present day Alba Iulia, Romania) had a Draco made with the tail in three colors, blue, yellow and red. This is the origin of the Romanian flag.
This preview would not be possible without the following;
“There is no one among the Sarmatians and the Getae who doesn't wear a scabbard with a bow and arrows dipped in adder blood"
Ovidius: Trist; IV; 1; 78
Some bows were made of animal horns, others were made of cornel tree wood, larch wood, hazel, hornbeam, ash or elm. The strings were made of flax, hemp, animal bowels, and horse or cattle veins. In rainy weather the warriors wore the bows unstrained so not to lose its flexibility. A medium bow could fire arrows as far as 200 meters.
The arrows were made of wood or occasionally of cane were 0,80-0,90 m long and had pointed metallic heads. The heads could be manufactured with 2 or 3 edges, or some of them were conic, also having a "thorn / barb". A skilled archer could fire 12 arrows a minute. These arrows were kept in metal quivers, between 16-24 in number. They were beautifully designed and painted but also dipped in poison. When the supply of arrows ran out, arrows from the battlefield or prisoners would be used.
Spears and lances were produced in many forms and models, from small barbs to enormous iron lances of 50 cm. From simple shapes without wings, to shapes copying the willow or laurel leaf. From prod/melee spears to spears for throwing. At the bottom end they were endowed with a sharp iron spur for being stuck in the earth against cavalry.
"The Getae, neighbours of the Scythians, use the same weapons as these do, they are all horsemen and archers"
Thucidides ;II; c.96
"The Dacians go to their deaths, happier than in any other journey, which explains their courage and heroism in battle.”
Allied AOR Units