Roman Cavalry Horse Harness

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Roman Cavalry Harnesse or Cavesson





Date Acquired  2006
Location Discovered Eastern Europe
Material  Bronze/Copper Alloy
Dimensions 21cm long x 13cm wide
Roman Empire 1st Century BC to 4thCentury AD

A bronze Roman Cavalry Harness or Cavesson.  A military harness or muzzle for the Cavalry Soldier's horse. 

This piece has two loops on each side to accept the actual horse bit, with a ridged lateral nose band around the center.  At the center of the piece which would have sat on the bridge of the horses snout, two decorative circles extend in opposing fashion.  A part of the center is cracked which appears to have happened in antiquity. (possibly from battle damage or at burial)  Much of the surface is still covered in a rough patina, and areas with surface encrustations are still visible. (item will be properly conserved)  The original piece would most likely have had a narrow rod that would have joined the two hoops under the snout of the horse.  This would have provided support for the Cavesson on the horses head. 

The Harness or Cavesson was more common in the East/Mediterranean however numerous examples exist from the Western provinces.  Something that was derived from a mixture of Italian and Barbarian elements, and most likely was influenced from the orient. (Thracian)  This item would have provided tighter control of the horse and would have allowed for better Cavalry tactics and battle manoeuvres.(1) 

Rare example for which there are not many that have survived.  This may in part be to their limited use. 

Some similar museum examples from the Nijmegen Museum. (photo from )

Guttmann Collection Example (2)


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Close Up View

Second Back View

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(1) References to similar items: FEUGERE, Michel; Weapons of the Romans, page 139 2002.

(2) References to similar items: CHRISTIE's, South Kensington; The Alex Guttmann Collection of Ancient Arms and Armour, Part 2. page 129 2004.

**Note on background. A Fresco from the ancient Roman City of Pompeii. The interior walls of a wealthy Roman's Estate 79AD. Picture taken July 2005.