Pilum the standard weapon of the Roman legionary
The Roman soldier always fought primarily with pole weapons. Equal in construction, they offered a great variety of dimensions. And they had one more thing in common: the popularity of their use!
What actually is a pilum?
Pilum ( from Latin "spear, throwing spear", plural ""pila"" ) is a melee weapon of either Samnite or Etruscan origin. Adopted and improved by the Romans, it brought a decisive step in the evolution from the combat formation of heavily armed infantry to phalanx tactics (Latin: phalanx, "line of battle").
Used throughout the duration of the Roman Empire, pilum was considered a unique weapon that largely defined the success of the Roman legions.
Initially, the use of pilum was apparently reserved for legionaries. By the imperial period at the latest, it was probably made available to auxiliary troops as well. Around the 3rd century AD, the popular standard weapon fell into disuse.
As a rule, each legionary was equipped with pila in duplicate:
a larger ""distant pilum"" (pilum eminus) and a smaller ""near pilum"" (pilum comminus).
The heavy pilum eminus was about 2.1 m long. About 70 cm of it was the long, thin, square or round forged iron rod with the blade tip, the rest was the wooden shaft. Both parts were fixed by rivet holes or riveted grommets.
The ferrule of the shaft, which received the tang or grommet, was conical or pyramidal. Lead or bronze ballast was sometimes placed at the end of the wooden shaft. An additional weight significantly increased the range and penetration of the throwing spear. The total weight of the weapon was about 1- 3 kilos.
The light pilum comminus was always under the 2 m length and never weighed more than half a kilo. The design of the smaller spear was proportionally equal to its larger counterpart. Its shooting range was enormous. In the course of time, the light specimens were completely abandoned in favor of the last more effective Pila eminus.
- Total length ca 107cm
- Material: solid beech wood / spearhead metal optics
- Origin Germany
This collectible is a handmade replica. The replica was made of real beech wood. The spearhead is covered with metal lacquer.
Use of the pilum
Pila were usually thrown from a distance of about 7.5 to 15 meters. The effective range of the heavy spear was even 20 to 30 m in comparison.
The purpose of the weapon was to gain the strength of the enemy even before the impact by reducing his battle lines. The spear's centrifugal force lay in its tip. This was able to penetrate the shields. The unique method of connecting the iron rod to the shaft (see above) made it possible to at least severely disable the enemy in case of doubt. If it hit a target, e.g.: a shield, the wooden shaft broke off and the iron remaining in the shield hindered the enemy's freedom of movement, which is why he often had to give up his shield. In case of unsuccessful impact, the weapon broke and became useless for reuse by the enemy.
Roman fields of application
Outside the battle lines, the pilum could be used successfully in defending the camp wall thanks to its long iron blade. The use of the spears in naval or elephant battles is also known.
The replicas have already been presented at many Roman festivals and playfully tested under great enthusiasm of the children. The fun factor is guaranteed.
by Forum Traiani ® registered trademark