Roman Military Equipment
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Roman Military Equipment

Roman Weapons

Pilum / Lance / Spear / Catapult / Plumbata / Catapult points


The Pilum  is the typical legionary weapon together with the short sword Gladius. It was designed to penetrate the shield as well as the soldier holding it, and to bend upon impact to make it unusable for another opponent.

Image from Hermann Historica Auction 158, 2009
3 Pila from the Axel Guttmann Collection, below ca. 110 cm long, middle ca. 80 cm long

Drawings of Pilum Parts, to the right from Oberaden

Drawings from Roman Military Equipment by Bishop & Coulston, Edition 2, 2006 © M.C. Bishop

Some pila have a spherical lump of lead on the shaft thought to enhance its penetration upon impact (no image).

Example of a later Roman Pilum, Munich Archeological Museum

another example

Below example is an even later type with a flat head similiar to an arrow.


Lance / Spear / Catapult heads

Lance / Spearheads and catapult projectiles used in roman times. Catapults as the one shown below shot warheads at high speed over high distances. Light spears were used to throw, while heavy lances were used to thrust by cavalry soldiers.

Spears and butts from the first Century AD

Drawings from Roman Military Equipment by Bishop & Coulston, Edition 2, 2006 © M.C. Bishop


The plumbata, with lead to increase the impact, ca. 3rd century AD

more examples

Images from Hermann Historica Auction 154, 2008

Related Sections of the Roman Numismatic Gallery:

The  Location of Roman Legions from Caesar to ca. 300 AD is summarized in a table.
Military Equipment
Military Diplomas
Roman Legionary Bricks
Countermarks of roman legions on coins are shown in the Legionary Countermark section.
Coins making reference to roman legions are to be found in the Legionary Coin section.
Wars and Victories on Roman coins.
Roman Military Main Page