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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Sun 31 Aug, 2014 8:36 pm    Post subject: how did the romans carry their spare pila?         Reply with quote

i did some thinking about pila and carrying javelins, and a funny thought struck me..... how did the legionaires hold onto their pila? the common logic is that the romans carried 2 pila, however, normally carrying a spare javelin is easy, you carry it in your shield hand,.. but with the romans that introduces a few problems, namely that roman scuta had horizontal grips, and it would hae been impossibly awkward to grip the spare pila IN the hand

is it possible the pila were lashed to the shield, or clipped to the back like the later plumbata were? or is it possible that they didnt have a second pilum??? or was simply having it, in a half grip, or lightly gripped by the thumb only a sufficient grip?
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Shahril Dzulkifli




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PostPosted: Sun 31 Aug, 2014 9:51 pm    Post subject: How did the Romans carry their spare pila?         Reply with quote

As far as I know Roman legionaries generally carry one pilum. But I never heard of them carry a spare pilum during combat.

Legionary throwing pilum in the village of Caerleon, Wales

“You have power over your mind - not outside events. Realize this, and you will find strength”

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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Mon 01 Sep, 2014 3:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Polybius says two.

Anyway, Matthew Amt knows much more about this than I do, so I'd rather wait for him.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Mon 01 Sep, 2014 9:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Two pila were "standard" in the Republic, and there are depictions of legionaries with 2 pila from the first century AD as well (though the whole heavy/light idea seems to have dropped away).

Carrying 2 in combat is simple. Until you're about to throw, both can be in the right hand. At that point, slap one against the back of your shield, next to the grip, and hook your left thumb over the shaft. Throw the pilum in your right hand, grab the second one and throw it. Draw sword and charge. Easy peasy.

If the second pilum is the tanged type with the "joint block" at the top of the wood shaft, it hangs on the rim of the shield very nicely, so all the thumb has to do is stablize it.

Matthew
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
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PostPosted: Tue 02 Sep, 2014 6:26 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Two pila were "standard" in the Republic, and there are depictions of legionaries with 2 pila from the first century AD as well (though the whole heavy/light idea seems to have dropped away).

Carrying 2 in combat is simple. Until you're about to throw, both can be in the right hand. At that point, slap one against the back of your shield, next to the grip, and hook your left thumb over the shaft. Throw the pilum in your right hand, grab the second one and throw it. Draw sword and charge. Easy peasy.

If the second pilum is the tanged type with the "joint block" at the top of the wood shaft, it hangs on the rim of the shield very nicely, so all the thumb has to do is stablize it.

Matthew


im with lafayette on this one i was thinking you might know as well. in order to not make a fool of myself i checked the legio XX website first to see if it was covered in the articles on the scutum or pilum, respectively since theres little point asking if the answer is plastered all over the internet...

so thank you for the insight, it was a problem i had trouble wrapping my head around.

out of curiosity how long can you maintain that locked thumb grip against the shield if needed?
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Matthew Amt




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

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PostPosted: Tue 02 Sep, 2014 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

William P wrote:
in order to not make a fool of myself i checked the legio XX website first to see if it was covered in the articles on the scutum or pilum, respectively since theres little point asking if the answer is plastered all over the internet...


I SHOULD add a photo of that! Not the first time the question has been asked. Mea culpa.

Quote:
out of curiosity how long can you maintain that locked thumb grip against the shield if needed?


No idea! I'll confess I've never tried it for any length of time, nor for running and dodging, etc. But it's not really a position that you'd have to hold for any significant time--if for some reason you aren't able to throw your first javelin, you can just grab both in your right hand again. And if worse comes to worse and you end up having to drop a pilum, no big deal.

Matthew
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Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

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PostPosted: Thu 04 Sep, 2014 7:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Slightly off-topic, but I thought y'all might appreciate this shot from Vindolanda (Northumberland, UK). The Ermine Street Guard had a small group there last month, and this veteran member demonstrated a marching load.


 Attachment: 242.11 KB
ESG.gif


-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Raman A




Location: United States
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Sep, 2014 11:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
Carrying 2 in combat is simple. Until you're about to throw, both can be in the right hand. At that point, slap one against the back of your shield, next to the grip, and hook your left thumb over the shaft. Throw the pilum in your right hand, grab the second one and throw it. Draw sword and charge.



Does this technique come from a source or modern experimentation? If the latter, have you experimented with other techniques?
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 06 Sep, 2014 4:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Only from brief modern experiments, there aren't any ancient sources that I've ever heard of. I seem to recall also looping my shield's carrying strap over the pilum shaft and gripping it against the shield handle with my hand. If you do it right, you just have to pop your fingers half open to release the pilum.

Matthew
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