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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
Joined: 31 Aug 2014

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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 10:08 am    Post subject: Skirmichers fights in antic greece         Reply with quote

Hello folks, i want to talk again about javelin vs self/simple bow

"the most common light infantrymen were those that used javelins"
"A man on foot could accurately hurl a javelin about
90m when utilizing a throwing thong"
"The simple bow was a single piece of wood with an animal-
gut string that could project an arrow up to 300m as part of a directional barrage, but
only some 90–135m with accuracy against a specific target."
"The task of light troops was to neutralize their opposite numbers and prevent
them from interfering with the phalanx."

"The amount of drill that it took to become proficient with the bow accounts in part for
its lack of popularity among militiamen."

Book : Land Battles in 5th Century B.C. Greece -
Fred Eugene Ray



i probably already talk about this before but i can't find the thread sry.
i get some answers like :
"Bow is too expensive" Ok for a composite bow but self/simple bow is not that complicate to make and you need iron/bronze for javelin head too.
"Bow is hard to learn" Is it so much easier to hit at 90m with a javelin than with a self bow ? (with a little training)
There is something i don't (or don't want to Sad ) understand !
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Niels Just Rasmussen




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 10:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

We had the javelin discussion here (which you also took part in):
http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=29604&highlight=

You have a point: Is hitting accurately long distance with a javelin as difficult as hitting with a bow? (having actually only tried longbow and that was damned hard). Guess only one that have trained both can answer that.

The question here is probably whether it is flexing javelins (darts) thrown with an atlatl (for greeks “string ankyle“) for long distance OR stiff non-flight-flexing javelins for shorter distance and more penetration we talk about.
I have only tried modern (stiff) spears used in athletics and they are not very precise.

So maybe an atlatl might give you much more precision and not only length?

I think the reason could also be cost. Bows are expensive to make and so is arrows (especially flight feathers). Tips on both javelins and arrows would likely be the same cost. So it is perhaps more economic to have javelin throwers than archers?
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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
Joined: 31 Aug 2014

Posts: 95

PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

thanks for the link but i was thinking of another discussion (again x))
for the cost of bow i would say yes, more expensive for a composite bow of course. But a simple bow is easy to make and don't require exotic materials or complex procedures like composite bow.
Perhaps javelin low ammunitions and short range is counter balanced by the incapacity power and close combat capability.
i mean even if your formation take some damage approaching archers then archers can only flee because they lack close combat weapons.
if someone already train with self/simple bow and javelin please help me Razz
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 12:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think one factor that is not always considered enough is that weaponry is a *cultural* thing. If your society has been using javelins for generations (or centuries), there simply isn't anyone who can just start making bows and arrows that are any good. A self-bow may seem simple to us, but to someone who has never seen one, it's going to be surprisingly tricky and subtle. You can try to import skilled craftsmen, or simply import the weapons, but remember that your troops are not *soldiers*-- you have to convince them to give up what has always worked and try something new and unfamiliar and therefore untrusted. Possibly even contemptible!

Note that when Athens found that archers were useful or necessary, they simply hired them in bulk from Crete or elsewhere. There was no attempt to rearm hoplites or peltasts. And for a long time, Athens' Cretan archers were just a local police force, they don't seem to have been a major component in many of the known battles. Some, yes!

I also think some of Ray's range estimates are a little exaggerated, but that's mostly been discussed elsewhere. I'd sure love to be able to chuck a javelin even half that far! And if I were an archer's "specific target" at a range of 100 m/yards, I'd just laugh and step to the side. 300 meters on an ancient battlefield? Forgeddaboudit.

So to me, the flat cost of a weapon isn't the deciding factor. If your kids are growing up with bows and arrows, you'll have archers on the battlefield. Otherwise, it's more likely javelins. Of course, if you can hire a thousand Thracian peltasts reknowned for their ferocity for the same cost that will get you only 500 Cretans who are more worried about messing up their hair (or about sinking on the way over!), still an easy choice!

Matthew
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 12:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The javelin is better for penetrating armour (and shields). For going through metal armour and shields, you need energy. A javelin can deliver energy that would make a military archer weep with envy (see numbers in thread linked above).
"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 1:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
The javelin is better for penetrating armour (and shields). For going through metal armour and shields, you need energy. A javelin can deliver energy that would make a military archer weep with envy (see numbers in thread linked above).

This is the only reason I could come up with that explained the shift from archers to javeliners at the end of the Bronze Age. It seems to coincide with the increased use of body armour.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Pieter B.





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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 1:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Timo Nieminen wrote:
The javelin is better for penetrating armour (and shields). For going through metal armour and shields, you need energy. A javelin can deliver energy that would make a military archer weep with envy (see numbers in thread linked above).


A javelin has a bigger chance to ruin or render a shield unusable for a moment too. If it penetrates far enough pulling it out might be problematic when the guy who just threw it is charging at you.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 1:18 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It should be noted that the favorite javelin-chuckers of ancient Greece, Thracian peltasts, did have shields but were unarmored. Mostly they fought each other, of course. So while armor penetration may have been a nice side effect, it was NOT the reason that javelin use developed in Thrace.

Just saying that effects are not necessarily causes!

Matthew
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 1:25 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
It should be noted that the favorite javelin-chuckers of ancient Greece, Thracian peltasts, did have shields but were unarmored. Mostly they fought each other, of course. So while armor penetration may have been a nice side effect, it was NOT the reason that javelin use developed in Thrace.

But what is the primary role of the peltast? I would argue that their primary role is to break up the phalanx and to counter cavalry, not fight each other. The problem is that the enemy's peltasts are trying to do the same thing to your side so you have to neutralise them first. You see the same thing with heavy cavalry. Their primary role was to disrupt formations of infantry but the other side is trying to do the same thing, so the cavalry ends up fighting each other first.

Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen and Sword Books
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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 3:05 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

i buy your wonderfull book "Bronze Age Military Equipment – Daniel Howard" and many test inside on bronze age shield say that javelin don't really penetrate more than arrows. Or i need to read it one more time ^^.
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Mart Shearer




Location: Jackson, MS, USA
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And why ignore slings and stones or bullets?
ferrum ferro acuitur et homo exacuit faciem amici sui
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Michael Brudon




Location: South Pacific
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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 10:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I throw javelin and in Australia have also used the Aborigine woomera( which allows launching spears further). I also hunt trad bow, longbow and with crossbows.

No doubt javelins had an important part in armies for a long long time, I am a fan being a thrower myself after all. But I think the maximum ranges and facts quoted are stretching practicality.

Some facts and cons of javelins to me are
1. Javellins which can reach 90m-100m aren't the same as war heavy javelins. The aboriginies who have been throwing them for 40,000 choose the lightest shaft with wooden barbed heads for past that.
2.Energy expenditure, any sort of rate of fire with a javelin, if it occurred, is very tiring.
3. Obviouslly the logistics of carrying and transporting large number of javelins, compared to arrows.
4.Trajectory of javelins is terrible, from a ballistics point of view they are actually a lobbed object, versus a projected object. The difficulties of lobbed accuracy, having no line of sight convenience when aiming and the trajectory as mentioned also makes ranging much more difficult.. Admittedly during packed formation targets this would be less important
5. Javelins flights are far less stable, particularly at range, non straight flights will destroy accuracy and penetration.

Some comments on penetration are also erroneous. A javelin has less energy than a bow, but more momentum, since kinetic energy squares the velocity( and bows are several times faster than Javelins) whereas momentum has a linear relationship with velocity. Penetration relationships to either momentum or energy are a tricky subject with a lot of non linear variables as it is with guns. At certain targets, momentum is a better predictor, at harder targets kinetic energy may be a better predictor. Also angles of impact with armour, higher velocity and a smaller projectile(like the arrow) may still dig into armour )better if it is a glancing angle, rarther than a slower heavy projectile, that may glance off. The drag coefficient on the projectiles body is another factor as it passes through the target as well. For example the thicker higher surface area of the javelins shaft will create more drag as it penetrates the shield/armour/body and may stop it faster. Again this may only be through soft targets, like peoples bodies. For example, it is possible to get complete penetration on a hog with an arrow, and have the arrow keep travelling. But doubtful you will ever get a javelin to even get half way out the other side Happy

I could be totally wrong about all of this to Happy maybe Javelins were a superior weapon that went out of fashion when people lost the skills to throw spears at food. Maybe if a bunch of native javelin or peltast guys were transported in time to the battle of hastings they would have broken up the cavalry.

I guess someone could do specific tests on specific materials, I don't have the shields but could try other things if anyone is interested?Generally my gut feeling is javelins don't penetrate 'better' than arrows on a lot of media.

Lastly, I am not a historian as a lot of you here are, so don't know what is written, I can see in the old times, perhaps less metal armor on tribal or bronze age bodies,?and people carrying big shields, you had two great reasons to employ javellins against armies? After that they lose their effectiveness against better bows?


Last edited by Michael Brudon on Fri 20 Feb, 2015 10:47 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 20 Feb, 2015 10:38 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexis Bataille wrote:
i buy your wonderfull book "Bronze Age Military Equipment – Daniel Howard" and many test inside on bronze age shield say that javelin don't really penetrate more than arrows. Or i need to read it one more time .

Blythe reckoned that the bow he tested penetrated a 12mm birch ply shield further than a javelin. Molloy's test had the javelin penetrating his shield a little better than arrows but none of them penetrated far enough to injure the wearer. I don't think there were any tests of javelins against armour. As has been said, arrows have more energy but less momentum than javelins and it is difficult to determine which is better for penetration. I'd love to see some detailed experiments.

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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 4:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Brudon wrote:

1. Javellins which can reach 90m-100m aren't the same as war heavy javelins. The aboriginies who have been throwing them for 40,000 choose the lightest shaft with wooden barbed heads for past that.
2.Energy expenditure, any sort of rate of fire with a javelin, if it occurred, is very tiring.
3. Obviouslly the logistics of carrying and transporting large number of javelins, compared to arrows.
4.Trajectory of javelins is terrible, from a ballistics point of view they are actually a lobbed object, versus a projected object. The difficulties of lobbed accuracy, having no line of sight convenience when aiming and the trajectory as mentioned also makes ranging much more difficult.. Admittedly during packed formation targets this would be less important
5. Javelins flights are far less stable, particularly at range, non straight flights will destroy accuracy and penetration.
?


1. Against unarmored light infantry you don't need big penetration power
2. After 2 or 3 shoot you need to retreat anyway to reload.
3. Heavier ammunition yes but if you get longer efficient range it's worst the cost.
4. So You think short self bow have a better efficient range than a javelin with amentum ?
5. Even with amentum ?
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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 6:45 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
But what is the primary role of the peltast? I would argue that their primary role is to break up the phalanx and to counter cavalry, not fight each other.


When they were employed by city-states with hoplite armies, sure. They just needed more light bobs. But the peltast did not evolve in their native land for that purpose. They were just the typical way to go to war, though obviously there were Thracians who fought with spears, or were mounted and even armored. There was no phalanx to break up in the hills of Thrace.

I can't help thinking of New Guinea tribesmen, who fight in loose skirmish lines, chucking javelins at each other until someone gets hit, then they go home. We could try to "improve" their war-fighting capabilities with all kinds of innovation and clever tactics, but their society has no need for anything like that. It works for them.

Michael, great stuff, thank you!!

Matthew
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Timo Nieminen




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 3:04 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Michael Brudon wrote:
Some comments on penetration are also erroneous. A javelin has less energy than a bow, but more momentum, since kinetic energy squares the velocity( and bows are several times faster than Javelins) whereas momentum has a linear relationship with velocity.


To get to 100J of energy, a 500g javelin needs 20m/s of speed, which is an achievable speed. That will perhaps beat contemporary bows in terms of energy (and have much more momentum as well). Much lighter than that, and you won't get arrow-level energy. Heavier than that, and it becomes easier to get that much energy (unlike the bow, where only a certain amount of energy is stored, throwing will deliver a lot more energy as the weight goes up - shotput can exceed 800J).

The arrow is faster, but 10 times the mass more than makes up for having 1/3 the speed.

Michael Brudon wrote:
Penetration relationships to either momentum or energy are a tricky subject with a lot of non linear variables as it is with guns. At certain targets, momentum is a better predictor, at harder targets kinetic energy may be a better predictor.


Metal plate: energy. Soft tissue: momentum. Head geometry and sharpness matters, too. If you want the javelin to compete with arrows for armour/shield penetration, small compact heads are good.

Some past discussion of javelin speeds and energies:
http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=29604

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Alexis Bataille




Location: montpellier
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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 4:31 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

On a shield with fabric/leather glued on wood ,the pressure of the splited wood slow more big diameter.
pilum is thin, penetration
conventionnal javelin is thick wood claws trap them
arrows is thin, penetration, wood claws stop them somewhat.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GLG0hLNXr9M
consideration about the ground ...
perhaps the hilly greece help middle range skirmishers.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 21 Feb, 2015 5:43 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Alexis Bataille wrote:
consideration about the ground ...
perhaps the hilly greece help middle range skirmishers.

The phalanx can't operate unless the terrain is flat and unbroken. The same battlegrounds were used over and over again because of this. For the most part, Greek commanders deliberately chose not to engage in hilly terrain. The main exception is with sieges.

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