Kontos

The kontos was the Greek name for a type of long wooden cavalry lance used by Sarmatian cavalry, notably cataphracts. It was also adopted by the cataphracts of Armenia, Parthia and the Sassanid Empire. It was also used by the Germanic warriors of the south. A shift in the terminology used to describe Sarmatian weapons indicates the kontos was developed in the early-mid 1st century AD from shorter spear-type weapons (which were described using the generic terms for "spear" - longche or hasta - by Greek and Roman sources, respectively).

As evidenced by contemporary artwork, the kontos was about 3-4 meters long though longer examples may have existed; a length of 4.5 meters was experimentally determined the practical maximum. Thus, it had to be wielded with two hands while directing the horse using the knees; this made it a specialist weapon that required a lot of training and good horseman skills to use effectively.

The Romans adopted a variation of the kontos called a contus. The Roman contus was also wielded two-handed. The later Byzantine kontarion was used by the Byzantine cataphracts single-handed couched under the armpit, not unlike the knightly lance.

The name is the stem of many words for cavalry lances in languages of the region, like gönder (Hungarian), gönder or rumh ("Roman lance", Turkish) and quntariya (Arabic).

See also

Most of Wikipedia's text and many of its images are licensed under the
Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License (CC BY-SA)

Return to Main Index