History of Collar Harnessing in Source Pictures

All pictures are stored both in a small ('thumbnail') and in a full size version in order to save downloading times. Click the thumbnail to view the larger version. Some thumbnails are actually clippings from the larger versions.

The Roman Collar in Neck Traction

Trier Grave Relief, 2nd Century CNT#1: The famous grave relief of Trier, mentioned by Raepsaet (1982) as from the 2nd century AD. In this picture, the two fastening straps of the collar in front of the neck are well visible. These straps open and close the collar. Unlike modern collars the Roman one had rotational parts. Either as one or two wooden pads at the end of the iron bow or perhaps a moveable two-parted bow. But for the latter we have no clear archaeological evidence. The traction point here seems at the lower side of the neck. That is much different from how any modern collar works. But Raepsaet found several other examples of the Roman collar in neck traction. The anatomical relations of this collar use need further investigation.

Verona relief, c. 150 AD CNT#2: A Roman collar from a relief in Verona, Italy, c. 150 AD. The slightly abraded relief shows a collar somewhat like CST#8 from the Roman army during the time of Trajan. The cart is attached to the collar with two solid shafts, much like the Trier relief. This relief from Verona, like all others here, strongly suggests a common use of collars throughout the whole Empire A close-up suggests the depiction of the same wood pad and fasten straps here, too. It is not clear whether the collar is in a high shoulder position or better called in a neck position. But any type of transition position must be classified as neck traction.

Cursus Velox CNT#3: Fast moving imperial mail and courier coach of the Cursus Velox. It is a grave relief of around 200 AD found in Yugoslavia and now in a museum in Belgrade. The travel vehicles of the Cursus Velox were the fastest of the ancient world. Here attacking wolves in the foreground and a guard with a heavy lance on the back seat emphasize the dramatic service in crossing the less populated wilderness. By moving fast, the power of the horses or mules is used for speed, less for force. If each horse was on full 1 horsepower (735 Watt) and the speed was 40 km/h, the traction force of each was only 66 Newton (like 6.6 kg or 14 lb). By such low forces the high neck use of the collar was no problem. But it is still without explanation why they placed it here so high on the neck.

Metz Grave Relief, 2nd Century(?) CNT#4: A funerary relief on display at the Musée de Metz. It is similar to CNT#1 from Trier and perhaps from around the same time. Like CNT#1 one sees indication of a pad/split at the front part of the neck where the straps are expected. The collar is much closer to the shoulders than CNT#1, but it seems still above it -- Perhaps a hint that this type of collar is cabable of neck- and shoulder-traction. Photography by Nantonos Aedui (nantonos.aedui at wanadoo dotfr).

Alise-Ste-Reine bronze plaque CNT#5: A bronze plaque found in 1931 at Alise-Ste-Reine and now on display at the Musée des Antiquités Nationale at Saint-Germain-en-Laye. It seems the same type of cart like CNT#1, 2 or 4. The collar is high on the neck like in CNT#3. The structure above the collar, above the head of the horse or mule needs further explanation. It could be a perspectively wrong depiction of an unknown forward cart structure related to steering or fastening. Some type of cult or advertising piece is another possibility. The inscription on the plaque is: 'Dea(e) Epon(a)e Satigenus Sollemni(s?) fil(ius) / v(otum) s(olvit) l(ibens) [m(erito)] ' Année Epigr. 1939, #235. Again found and photographed by Nantonos Aedui (nantonos.aedui at wanadoo dot fr).

HTML by Erik Möller
Content by Seneca