Thursday 22 February 2024

Pagan Eye: Roman Dragon Standard at Legion

This is Draco - a dragon standard from Ancient Rome that's currently in British Museum's exhibition Legion - Life in the Roman Army. I took the photo above when I went to see the exhibition last weekend.

It explains that each Century of Roman troops had it's own standard, which was carried into battle. The standards were poles with emblems on top that often depicted birds or animals. The eagle was probably the most prestigious symbol in Rome, but by 100AD dragon standards were highly important too. They had been adopted from Rome's Sarmation (Iranian) enemies. The metal dragon head was attached to a wind sock. As it was carried along it made a roaring whistle designed to scare opponents.  All Roman standards were considered sacred and carefully guarded.

The Legion exhibition runs until 23 June 2024 and is at the The Sainsbury Exhibitions Gallery, British Museum, Great Russell St, London WC1B 3DG. Standard tickets are £22 but you must book in advance. Members get in free and don't have to book.

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