Pilum the standard weapon of the Roman legionary
The Roman soldier always fought primarily with pole weapons. Right from the start, they offered a great variety of dimensions. And another thing they had in common: the popularity of their use!
What is a Pilum?
Pilum ( from the Latin 'spear', 'spit', plural 'pila' ) is a melee weapon of either Samnite or Etruscan origin. Taken over and improved by the Romans, it brought a decisive step in the development from the combat formation of heavily armed infantry to phalanx tactics (Latin: phalanx, 'battle series').
Used throughout the Roman Empire, Pilum was regarded as a unique weapon that largely defined the success of the Roman legions.
Initially, the use of Pilum was apparently reserved for the legionnaires. At the latest in the imperial period it was probably also made available to the auxiliary troops. Around the 3rd century AD, the popular standard weapon fell out of use.
As a rule, every legionary was equipped with Pila in duplicate:
a larger 'Fernpilum' (pilum eminus) and a smaller 'Nahpilum' (pilum comminus).
The heavy Pilum eminus was about 2.1 m long. About 70 cm of this were the long, thin, square or round forged iron rod with the tip of the leaf, the rest the wooden shaft. Both parts were fixed with rivet holes or riveted grommets.
The ferrule of the shank, which held the rod or spout, was conical or pyramidal. At the end of the wooden shaft, lead or bronze ballast was sometimes buried. An additional weight considerably increased the range and penetration depth of the spit. The total weight of the weapon was approx. 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 proportional to its larger counterpart. Its range was enormous. In the course of time, the light specimens were completely abandoned in favour of the more effective Pila eminus.
- Total length approx. 107cm
- Material: solid beech wood/ spearhead metal look
- Origin Germany
The collector's item is a handmade replica. The replica was made of real beech wood. The tip of the spear is covered with metal varnish.
Application of the Pilum
Pila were usually thrown from a distance of about 7.5 to 15 metres. In comparison, the effective range of the heavy spear was 20 to 30 metres.
The purpose of the weapon was to gain the strength of the opponent before the impact by reducing his battle lines. The centrifugal force of the spear was at its peak. This was able to penetrate the shields. The unique method to connect the iron rod with the shank (see above) made it possible to obstruct 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, so he often had to do without his shield. The unsuccessful impact caused the weapon to break, making it unusable for reuse by the enemy.
Roman fields of application
Outside the battle lines, the Pilum could be used successfully to defend the camp wall thanks to its long iron blade. The use of spears in sea or elephant battles is also well known.
The replicas have already been presented at many Roman festivals and tested with great enthusiasm by the children. The fun factor is guaranteed.
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