Relief Carving of Prince David Saharouni
Cathedral of Mrčn, Armenia, c.640AD
A larger image of this Relief Carving of Prince David Saharouni, Cathedral of Mrčn, Armenia
A relief carving of Prince David Saharouni, an Armenian ruler on the western portal of the Cathedral of Mrčn in Armenia.
It was made around 640 at a time when Armenia was an autonomous, self-governing frontier province within the still-expanding Arab-Islamic empire. (Lucy Manuelian photograph)
Source: p.36, EH - 071 - The Great Islamic Conquests AD 632-750 by David Nicolle
Referenced as figure 239 in The military technology of classical Islam by D Nicolle
239. Relief, Princes Nerseh Kamsekarand and David Saharouni, c.640 AD, Armenian, in situ Cathedral of Mren (Thi).
pp239-240, Vol. 2: Whereas the Imperial art of Constantinople generally illustrates élite guard units in a somewhat archaic fashion,
early Armenian art might prove more reliable for the fighting cavalry of the frontier region (Fig.
The riders on the carving at Mren appear to wear long-sleeved scale hauberks, probably similar to the lorikions and zabas of Byzantine written sources.
Note also the Iranian-style padded or quilted sleeves.
Scale armour, being essentially less flexible than mail or lamellar, is rarely illustrated with long sleeves.
The two princes on the Cathedral of Mren, however, wear hauberks in which this problem is apparently solved by leaving parts of the elbow area unscaled.
Such long scale hauberks, opening down the front as they do, may correspond to the Arab dirʿ which, like the non-protective durrāʿah,
was probably slit down the front.26 A saddle on this Armenian carving is also unique, having a distinctly raised pommel, but a flat unflared cantle.
In general such illustrations suggest that Armenia and the Caucasus were, in military technology at least, under greater Iranian,
and perhaps southern, influence than Byzantine influence.
26. Al Aqṣarā'ī, op, cit., pp. 17 and 321; J. G. Hava, Arabic-English Dictionary, (Beirut 1899).
See also David and Goliath on Southeast Facade, Surb Khach Armenian Church of the Holy Cross, c.915-921AD, Akdamar Island, Van Province, Turkish Armenia
Other 7th century Illustrations of Costume & Soldiers