The Transtigritani

This page created 6 September 2014, and last modified: 6 September 2014


The Transtigritani is listed as the tenth and last of the pseudocomitatenses units under the Magister Militum per Orientem. Its shield pattern is shown in various manuscripts as below:

Shield patterns

Disclaimer: remember, I'm not an expert in the field of Notitia studies, so take my comments with a grain of salt...

The shield pattern is simple, with a white main field (yellow in B), a yellow rim, a yellow boss (red in P, maroon in W), a blue band surrounding the boss, and a blue "pillar" underneath. The pattern is thus similar to several other units in the Magister Militum per Orientem's list: the Prima Italica, the Quarta Italica, and the Prima Isaura sagittaria. However, the basic "keyhole" shape produced by a boss with a "pillar" underneath is a very common motif in the Notitia, so perhaps not too much should be read into these similarities.

The name Transtigritani means "beyond the Tigris"; the unit was presumably either recruited there or had been stationed there before joining the command of the Magister Militum per Orientem. However, it could have not have stayed long in the command, as in addition to being the last-listed unit, and thus likely the unit that had most recently joined the command, it is also attested in numerous papyri from Egypt over the next 150 or so years, the first of which (SB 14 11574; image here) dates from February 406, and which states the unit is stationed in the Arsinoite nome there; the papyrus concerns the receipt of pickled meat. So the unit must have been been transferred out of the command by then at the very latest.

Whether the Transtigitani was a legionary or an auxiliary unit cannot be affirmatively judged by its name alone, although the form sounds more typical of auxiliary units. However, since of the nine other pseudocomitatenses units in the command, seven would appear to be either certainly legionary or very likely legionary, while the remaining two could well also be legionary, it may well be the men of the Transtigitani were also legionaries.


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