The Thracian peltast

The peltast was a lightly-equipped Thracian warrior named after his shield (the “pelta”). The shield had a moon crescent shape, was made of wicker and covered with goat or sheepskin. The peltasts wore light tunics and fox hats. Their legs were shod in boots made of deer leather and are covering themselves with patterned cloaks. Each peltast was armed with two spears and a short sword or an iron dagger (war sickle) with a serrated blade. Sometimes warriors carried a bag of stones and a sling on their belts. 

Peltasts did not fight in tight formations (unlike the Hoplite phalanx), but in scattered combat units, which allowed them to quickly attack and retreat. Their manoeuvres were carried out in small compact groups, which did not separate during the march and the soldiers involved, helped each other during the battle. While retreating, the peltasts flipped their shields on their backs to protect themselves.

When they joined the battle, Thracian warriors used terrifying war cries and made unimaginable noise with the clatter of their weapons.

The battles began brutally, while the enemy was still under pressure. The strength of the peltasts relies on the offensive, and the constant alternation of attacks and retreats turned every war against them into a game of hide and seek. The Thracian units dispersed quickly, but reassembled even faster. The soldiers rushed across the fields and meadows, hid in the bushes and nearby groves, then reappeared shortly after, so that they could swiftly strike and not let the exhausted enemies catch their breath.