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Kurt Scholz





Joined: 09 Dec 2008

Posts: 390

PostPosted: Sat 24 Nov, 2012 4:52 am    Post subject: Throwing weighted pila like hammers?         Reply with quote

I read the pilum and plumbata discussions on this forum.
The ball weighted pila look in a way like giant plumbata, except for the lack of feathers.
So I had an idea;
You could launch a pilum similar to a plumbatum. It would be like a staff sling compares to a normal sling. It's more akin to modern hammer throwing than javelin throwing.
Having much weight concentrated in a compact mass at the end of the wooden staff would be a solution useful for this application.
The throwing technique can transfer energy far in excess of what is possible with the javelin throw that is usually assumed for pila.
Naturally, you are limited to a vertical and no horizontal swing and you still need some distance in between you and someone else.
This is not an idea on a new standard throw for reconstructions, but it's a way you can launch a pilum.
The Romans, I'm sure, will have tried a lot during a boring day and found some useful for applications like getting the maximum number of shields&enemies on a shank.

What do others think of this idea of throwing a pilum?
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,306

PostPosted: Sat 24 Nov, 2012 9:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Are you talking about throwing the thing end-over-end? Um, no. It's 7 feet long and the balance is near the middle, even with a weight. The air resistance would be amazing. How would this sort of throw transfer more energy than a normal javelin throw?

If you're talking about using a sling or cord, throwing loops are often shown with the lancea used by auxiliaries, but never with the pilum.

"The Romans, I'm sure, will have tried a lot during a boring day..." There's your problem. You're stacking up assumptions based on how *you* think, which is not necessarily how the Romans thought. Roman soldiers were rarely bored because officers knew better than to let them get bored. And when they were doing weapons training, any legionary who tried lobbing his pilum like some demented throwing knife would be clobbered by his centurion and told to do the right way, while all his friends laughed at him.

But don't let me be all Aristotle-like on you--give it a try! If you can throw it farther by any method other than a more or less normal javelin launch, let us know.

Good luck and Vale,

Matthew

PS: We don't actually KNOW that the plumbata was a short dart like many modern reconstructions. All that remains are the heads, which of course are *interpreted* as plumbata heads, without proof. The shafts could easily have been 3 feet long, and the weapon thrown like a regular javelin. Though come to think of it, there may be literary evidence to help with that.
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,194

PostPosted: Sun 25 Nov, 2012 4:31 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think he means like a hammer in the olympics, not a carpenter's hammer.
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David Sutton




Location: Bolton, UK
Joined: 06 Mar 2007
Likes: 15 pages
Reading list: 39 books

Posts: 230

PostPosted: Sun 25 Nov, 2012 7:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sorry not sure I'm understanding how this works out. The chap spins round with his pila like a modern hammer thrower??
'Reserve your right to think, for even to think wrongly is better than not to think at all'

'To teach superstitions as truth is a most terrible thing'

Hypatia of Alexandria, c400AD
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Nat Lamb




Location: Melbourne, Australia
Joined: 15 Jan 2009
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 385

PostPosted: Sun 25 Nov, 2012 11:49 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am pretty sure that this was the basis for the historian Sarcastius the Elder* writing "... then the throwers of the pila moved near the front, and spinning as a great top hurled their impliments willy-nilly in all directions, and hillarity ensued."


*Not a real historian.
While I can see how this technique might allow one to chuck an oversized object further than one otherwise could, the potential for a bad release, and the area/space needed for such a technique makes me skepticle that it could be employed en-mass
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Dan Howard




Location: Maitland, NSW, Australia
Joined: 08 Dec 2004

Spotlight topics: 2
Posts: 3,194

PostPosted: Sun 25 Nov, 2012 3:07 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm pretty sure that Kurt is just hypothesising about a larger version of the kestrosphendone. Would be an interesting experiment.
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