I was recently reading about the Samnite Wars and since I wanted to have better image of how soldiers on both sides during the period looked I googled images of Roman and Samnite warriors and one of the first images that popped out was this:

enter image description here

"...a reconstruction of the dress which might have been worn by the Samnite army at the Battle of Aquilonia in 293." Also, "F2, together with various figures in the background, represents the balance of the Samnite army, dressed in their 'parti-coloured' tunics. ... Bands of decorated material were applied at the shoulder, sleeves, hem, chest, etc., as in these examples, which are based on paintings of warriors from Paestan tombs and Lucanian vases. The decorative colours and motifs have been repeated on the shields." Sekunda, 'Early Roman Armies'

What really stands out to me are the swastikas on the shield. I am aware that swastika is a historic symbol and that version of it were found on various artifacts but I never associated it with Italian peninsula. Since the picture above is an artist representation of what Samnites looked like my first question is:

Are there some records of it being used on shields or is the above representation ahistorical?

I tried to search for some more pictures of Samnite shields but this was the only one I could find that has this patter which makes me think that maybe this is just an artist representation. The source of the image also does not have any explanation of the symbol or reference to some other source.

If the swastika was actually used what was its meaning if it is even known?

I know that swastika is a religious symbol in some Eastern religions, did it have the same meaning in ancient Italy? I tried to find answer on my own and I found some sources that associate the symbol with happiness when it comes to Romans, but I was not able to find any source discussing the symbol for Samnites.

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    The swastika has been found on Samnite ornaments (though I don't know about shields) and was probably simply a symbol of luck. The Etruscans also used it, and it's evident in Greek and Roman art. May 30, 2020 at 1:38
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    Note also that Samnites typically used round shields during the time of the Samnite wars, though a few depictions of oval ones with pointed ends have been found. I can't read the text on your (Osprey?) picture, but if it's saying these are Samnites during the Samnite wars, the accuracy is at least partly questionable. May 30, 2020 at 1:53
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    @LarsBosteen The image says "samnite warriors c.293BC 1. 2. 3. samnite spearmen [numbers 1-3 refer to the men in front]. 4. javelineer [refers to the person with red shield].
    – Ezekiel
    May 30, 2020 at 12:08
  • @LarsBosteen: Fair enough for putting it into the main question; I only had the time to look for the info earlier on.
    – gktscrk
    May 30, 2020 at 12:10


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