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Historical Tidbit Thursdays - The History of Weaponry - Weapons of the Romans - #TidbitThursday #AncientRomanWeapons #AncientRomanWarfare


Welcome to Historical Tidbit Thursdays. For the next few weeks, we'll follow the timeline presented in the book, "A History of Weaponry" by John O'Bryan. Last week and this week I'll focus on the Ancient Weapons section.

Gladius (Gladii) - Although infamously associated with Romans, this short sword actually originated in Spain (Gladius Hispaniensis) and had a dual-edged blade with a point (similar to the Greek xiphos). The Romans improved it by giving it a slight bulge ("waist") in the middle. This sword was about two feet long.

Pilum (Pila) - A Roman javelin. What made it unique was the untreated iron tip that would collapse and fuse upon piercing into an enemy's shield or armor rendering it useless (so they wouldn't be able to throw it back at the Roman thrower). Interestingly, it had a twenty yard range.

Plumbata - A sort of dart or jart with a long trajectory and a sharp point. Roman legionaries could carry four of these inside their shields and throw them at enemies.

Caltrop - A painful-looking device that rested on three of its four spikes and were thrown all over the battlefield for the horse or camel or hapless man to step onto and hurt their foot. Of course, the Romans weren't immune to accidentally stepping on them either.

Onager or Mangonel - The precursor to the Trebuchet - a device that launched rocks or other large projectiles; a fancier catapult powered by torsion; a single arm was sprung forward into a throwing motion.

Trident - Literally "three teeth" and resembled a pitchfork with three prongs; originally used by fishermen but became popular in gladiatorial games by the "retiarius" who yielded a trident and net to catch hapless victims. Unlike a pitchfork, the middle prong was longer than the other two.

A History of Weaponry by John O'Bryan; ISBN#978-1-4521-1054-7

Photo Credit: Gladius - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gladius
Photo Credit: Plumbata - http://openarchaeology.info/issue-2012-2/ea/use-metal-moulds-cast-lead-weights-wooden-shaft-plumbata
Photo Credit: Caltrop - https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Caltrop
Photo Credit: Trident - http://www.gladiatorschool.tv/retiarius.htm

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