The Sarmatians were a nomadic people who had migrated westwards from the Euroasian Steppe. The Roxolani were a major Sarmatian tribe, and by about 400 BCE they were settled north of the Black Sea. This made them neighbours of the Scythians and Dacia, and inevitably were involved in the wars in that area. Most famously they provided aid to the Dacians during the Roman expeditions against that country in the first century CE.
As with any nomads most of the fighting men were mounted, and a very large proportion of them would have been light archers. Fewer would have been lancers, but these latter would have been the ones expected to smash the enemy once the archers had weakened them. In the republican Roman period it seems likely that most of these men would have been unarmoured, with perhaps only the higher nobility having armour made of metal or hardened leather. However by the time they faced the Roman Empire armour was becoming more common. All the figures in this set are wearing much the same, with scale armour and a form of spangenhelm helmet, while two poses also have a cloak. The helmet seems to have a flap protecting the neck, probably of leather, and one has a nasal piece too. Evidence is far from complete on the exact style of helmets at any one period, but on the face of it these figures are accurate. As we have said they would be more and more typical as the centuries passed until the Roxolani disappear in the fourth century, but they should be appropriate for many during the wars with Rome and others during the first century.
We have already said that archers were a very important part of Sarmation warfare, and while some of these figures carry a bow none are using it. However this set should really be seen as a complement to the various other sets for the Steppe peoples produced by LW and Evolution, namely Scythians from LW and Dacian Cavalry, Sarmat Cavalry and Bosporan Cavalry from Evolution. Between all these sets you get a fair selection of figures for the warriors of this area, and clearly this set contains the heavy lancers. These men were armed with the long lance or Contus, as well as a sword and bow. The first pictured pose has disposed of his contus and is using his sword, but the second is holding his levelled as at the charge. However Evolution have not provided the lance for this pose, so we are left with an empty-handed man, although the hands are well positioned to accept a lance, albeit a rather thinner one than the third man carries. The fourth man carries a draco standard, which was a windsock that may have been of use to the archers as well as having symbolic value. Although they could vary, and not necessarily have a dragon’s head, this one seems to fit the stereotype which is OK. Conveniently for the sculptor the sock hangs limp, suggesting the rider is stationary on a calm day. While four poses can’t deliver much these poses are quite reasonable.
Sculpting is not too bad with good detail, although a certain flatness is evidence by such devices as the raised sword, which actually cuts into the helmet of the rider. Flash is a mixed bag, with none at all in some places but noticeable amounts elsewhere. The men fit the horses pretty loosely and will require gluing.
The horses are the same ones we find in many ancients set from this company, including those listed above, and are reasonably appropriate. There is evidence to suggest that the armoured men often had an armoured covering for their mounts, but this may not have applied in all cases, so even the unarmoured horses may be appropriate. Some of the poses are quite poor, but again nothing too terrible – we have certainly seen much worse.
As with other Evolution sets you will find this one contains one each of our pictured poses plus a second copy of one pose – which one is entirely random. The horses may differ considerably, with some of the above duplicated and others missing within a particular bag.
This is quite a reasonable set for this company, and when seen in conjunction with their other output rather than in isolation it provides an important element for the armies of these peoples. Since there is nothing to suggest the Roxolani were dressed or armed any differently to any other Sarmatian tribe these could be used for any of them.