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Roman Weapons in History

If you were to read a book on Roman history, you will learn that Roman weaponry and their production was very disciplined in ancient Rome. In fact there was a standard rule to how Roman weapons needed to be used, and these rules were known as res militaris. The modern word in English, exercise comes from the word exercitus which was the term used for the daily practice of weapon usage. Roman soldiers were often praised for their excellence on the battlefield. According to most experts, it was not the quality of the weapons that they possessed that made them great soldiers. It was the proficiency and expertise with which they handled their weapons that made them unbeatable on the war ground. In this article we give you an overview of the Roman weapons used by these soldiers.

Roman Weapons of War

From the foot soldiers in the army of the great Roman emperor, Julius Caesar to the gladiators who fought many times over at the Roman Coliseum, these Roman weapons were an integral part of the things that they possessed. In the table given below we give you a list of all those Roman weapons that were used by the armies of the rulers of ancient Italy.

GladiusA short, light sword that measured about 50 centimeters in length that was worn on the right side of a soldier’s body. Since the sword was used for quick stabbing, it needed to be drawn out quickly without interfering with the shield being held by the soldier.
PugioThis small dagger measured between 18 to 28 centimeters in length and about five centimeters in width. The function of a pugio was that of a sidearm worn on the left side by the soldier.
SpathaThe spatha was much longer than the gladius or the pugio measuring between 0.75 meters and 1 meter in length. It was a weapon that was used both by gladiators and soldiers. Smaller Roman swords were often referred to as semispathae.
PlumbataeThese Roman weapons resembled the modern day darts. Most soldiers carried almost half a dozen of these plumbatae that were lead weighted. They were attached to the backside of the shield that the soldiers carried. Plumbatae had a range of almost 30 meters.
PilumOne pilum or spear measured about two meters in length with an iron shank that had a head shaped like a pyramid. These spears were designed in a manner that when thrown they would adhere to the enemy’s shield and if they were pulled out, they would bend due to the force applied.
HastaThis was one of the Roman weapons that was often used instead of the pilum. The hasta measured about six feet in length with a head that was made of iron.
VerutaThe veruta were smaller javelins that was used occasionally by the Roman army, It was an integral part of Roman weaponry.
BowsThe Roman army consisted of a group of soldiers known as the sagittarii who were archers and who were experts at Roman weapons like bows and arrows. The sagitarii carries a composite bow which was made of wood, which shot arrows that had iron heads.
BallistaA crossbow made of wood which shot out weaponry like darts, bolts, and stone projectiles.
OnagerUnlike modern day catapults, these Roman weapons were much bigger and had a long arm in which a projectile was placed and then fired.
TribulusThis was one of the important Roman weapons that was used to immobilize cavalry. The weapon was made of base placed with four sharp nails pointed upwards. This would hurt horses and camels, and even foot soldiers.

Other than these Roman weapons, there were other important things that every soldier carried which included the body shield and the helmet. Roman helmets were designed in a manner that helped protect not only their head but, also their neck, and the sides of their face. The helmets made for Roman soldiers were made of either iron or a copper alloy. If you are playing the role of a Roman soldier, then while wearing Roman costumes, you will need to pay attention to the armor. Ancient Roman armor was made of iron and leather, and flexible armor was used to protect their limbs. Now that you have all the information you could want, about ancient Roman weapons and armor, it should be easy for you to reenact a scene from a Roman war drama or write that report on Roman weapons and tactics that you need to.

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