RomanArmyTalk

Full Version: Plumbata
You're currently viewing a stripped down version of our content. View the full version with proper formatting.
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47
Separate question re the plumbata case/ bucket etc. Does anyone speak Greek and/ or have a Greek version of the Maurice Strategikon?

In B Infantry Formations, para 4 "Armament weapons of the light-armed infantryman" he writes in the English version "They should also carry lead-pointed darts in leather cases or slings". Does anyone know what words he used in the original and what they might mean?

And, btw, he also recommends that darts be used by heavy infantry, by waggon drivers etc etc!

Cheers

Paul
Quote: Hopefully you've got my photos by now, and can view these darts in detail.
Yes I did, thanks again for sharing!

Quote:As I'm sure you appreciate just where the lead weight was placed on the shaft of socketed plumbata can be very hard to determine. In many cases only the shaft is found, or just the lead weight. I suspect there were in fact more than the two you mention, as well as this example.
Well, I can only say that I have seen pictures of dozens of plumbatae, and that of these only four (if I include Wroxeter I, even though it differs greatly from the other three) show a weight that does not sit on the joint of wood and metal.
Of course we can hypothesise that part of the shaft below the weight rusted/broke off, but only x-raying every weight would really show where the joint between wood and metal really was. Barring such research I can only go with conclusions made by those who excavated the plumbata. Especially for the shanked ones the weight must have strengthened the joint between wood and metal. Just my thougts, of course.

Quote:I'm sure they were in the minority, but they suit our modern needs very well.
I'm sure they do. And even IF we would doubt that Wroxeter I was such a special form, the Comitatus plumbatae still resemble a 'real' original, namely Sisak VI. They look fine by me.
Hi Paul,

Quote: Separate question re the plumbata case/ bucket etc. Does anyone speak Greek and/ or have a Greek version of the Maurice Strategikon?
In B Infantry Formations, para 4 "Armament weapons of the light-armed infantryman" he writes in the English version "They should also carry lead-pointed darts in leather cases or slings". Does anyone know what words he used in the original and what they might mean?
And, btw, he also recommends that darts be used by heavy infantry, by waggon drivers etc etc!

The original Greek of 'lead-pointed darts' is 'marztobarbulon', which seems an almost direct translation of 'martiobarbulus' (Little dart of Mars). See also Völling, Thomas (1991): Plumbata - Mattiobarbulus - ???????????????? Bemerkungen zu einem Waffenfund aus Olympia' in: Archäologischer Anzeiger, pp. 287-98 and Kolias, Taxiarchis G. (1988): Die Keule und der Streitkolben, in: Byzantinische Waffen. Ein Beitrag zur byzantinischen Waffenkunde, Von den Anfängen bis zur lateinischen Eroberung, Byzantina Vindobonensia, vol. 17 (Wien), pp. 173-84.

Völling agreed that the ???????????????/marztobarboulon is almost certainly the same as the 'martiobarbulus' mentioned by Vegetius (and hence we can conclude that 'mattiobarbulus' written in that source is probably an error for 'martiobarbulus'). But Völling also agreed with Kolias that the Strategikon mentioned that every soldier only carried one single dart in a quiver. Both assumed that this was an evolved, heavier form (Völling assumed that his find from Olympia confirmed this), because in the early 10th-c. Taktika of the emperor Leon the word ??????????????? describes a mace.

I've discussed these and other things over the past three years with dr. Philip Rance, who is still (I hope!) working on the latest edition of the Strategikon. He is of the opinion that ??????????????? indeed may be a synonym for a plumbata. He also disagrees with Dennis' translation of ??????????????? with the strained 'lead-pointed dart'. And lastly he disagrees with both Kolias and Völling about the translation of the quiver in which the 'heavy dart' was supposedly held, because the text never mentions any specifics. Apparently the text never mentions a single dart, nor a heavy one. To quote him:

Quote: It is not possible to be certain whether Maurice requires heavy infantry (skoutatoi) to have one or more martiobarbuli, because all the equipment in the inventory at 12.B.4 is in the plural, whether each soldier had one of that item or several. I have assumed, on the basis of earlier precedent and intrinsic likelihood, that each man has more than one. The language of 12.B.20 also implies that each man has several. Maurice says nothing about their cases. The issue is slightly confused at 12.B.6 where the text reads that each contubernium should have a cart containing, among other tools and equipment, "a martiobarboulon" (in the singular), though I think this must be an error and should be in the plural - whether we think that this was a dart or a mace there seems no reason why a contubernium of 8 men should be issued with just one! I have assumed that these are extra martiobarbuli, in addition to those included in each man's equipment at 12.B.4. Although Maurice specifies that martiobarbuli should be part of the equipment of heavy infantry (12.B.4) and that they should be trained to use them (12.B.2), he also envisages their use by light infantry (12.B.12) and even wagon-drivers in the baggage-train (12.B.18).

Kolias seems to have thought of a mace in the first place, and tried to fit the text accordingly. His drawing on p. 175 shows something not like a plumbata but already more like a mace, with a spike-studded lead weight but without a point!

[Image: plumbata35.jpg]
Quote:The plumbata seem ok in Richmond.

The fire arrow though may cause a few problems.......... :roll:

Was that you farfing about near the petroleum storage facilities a couple of years ago then??? Confusedhock: Confusedhock: Confusedhock:
tauta pant' esti moi barbara.... Smile
It's all Greek to me as well.... :mrgreen:
Quote:Hi Paul,


Kolias seems to have thought of a mace in the first place, and tried to fit the text accordingly. His drawing on p. 175 shows something not like a plumbata but already more like a mace, with a spike-studded lead weight but without a point!

[Image: plumbata35.jpg]


There was that image from Vegetius? which showed a weight in the normal position, but wit hwhat looked to me to be spikes on it?
I think that fits the description, but the logic escapes me..... :?
Quote:There was that image from Vegetius? which showed a weight in the normal position, but wit hwhat looked to me to be spikes on it?
I think that fits the description, but the logic escapes me..... :?
Exactly. No, the image you're thinking of is not from Vegetius, but from de Rebus Bellicis:

[Image: plumbata22.jpg]

I think Kolias had the unprovenanced plumbata et tribolata in mind, which I think was the anonymous' own invention. But for what reason Kolias removed the barbed head and added these spikes is beyond me - maybe this looked like a mace that he was thinking of? It does not resemble anything described in a source or found. And yet this was his version of the 'marztobarbulon' described in the Strategicon.
Yes that is the image, sorry for the bad name memory. :roll: :oops:

I have to admit when I saw that spiked head, the first thing that came to mind was something to wrap a flamable material around to lob into enemy fortifications.... :?
Quote:This aimed at Robert really, but there may be somone else here who knows this as well.
What is the current terminus ante quem for the plumbata?
Thanks in advance.
Crispvs
Ah, that's not an easy one. As posted above, if we can agree that the Strategicon describes plumbatae (which I think it does), then we can easily determine that they were used into the 7th century. No matter what I think of Taxarchias Kolias' reconstruction of the plumbata, he's probably right when he signals that by the early 10th-c. Taktika of the emperor Leon the word ??????????????? describes a mace. So somewhere inbetween the throwing weapon becomes a different sort of weapon.

But confirming that from the archaeological record won't be easy.
Thanks Robert.

That sees to the terminus post quem for the plumbata, but what I was really after was the current terminus ANTE quem. I don't know if they were in use during the later third century AD but I have for a long time been given to understand that they were in use by the mid fourth. So when does the earliest evidence date from?

Crispvs
Hi Crispus,
Quote: That sees to the terminus post quem for the plumbata, but what I was really after was the current terminus ANTE quem.
Ah, I mixed them up? Are you sure?

Terminus ante quem refers to the date before which an artifact or feature must have been deposited. Used with Terminus post quem ("limit after which"), similarly, terminus ad quem ("limit to which") may also refer to the latest possible date of a non-punctual event (period, era, etc.), while terminus a quo ("limit from which") may refer to the earliest such date.

Quote: I don't know if they were in use during the later third century AD but I have for a long time been given to understand that they were in use by the mid fourth. So when does the earliest evidence date from?
That's even harder to say, because we're currently using the written sources as a base for the date of the artifact. Meaning that we date archaeological layers from 9amongst other things) the occurrance of plumbatae, which are dated by.. Vegetius.

Vegetius tells us the tale of the late 3rd c. units 'developing' this weapon, but of course we a) do not know how much of the tale is true (he refers to those units in the past tense, btw) and b) if the weapon was really as new as Vegetius thought it was.
Thanks for your very useful reply. I will pass it on to the person who asked me the question in the first place.

Thanks also for expanding my understanding of 'termini'.

Crispvs
Regarding the breakage of most plumbata upon impact I think the cause may be the shape of the wooden shaft.
I was talking to an archer who does medieval reenactment and he told me that using perfectly cylindrical shafts
for arrows makes the missile brittle. He was referring to the round wooden shafts that you find in hobby shops.
But, he said, arrow shafts were not carved that way. They were subtlely multi-sided, i.e. more polygon shaped,
which gives the shaft much more strength. So he suggested buying square-shaped shafts and shaving the corners
off. I'd like to try it for my plumbatae and see if they break after the first few throws.

(The reason I care is that it's really fun to throw them so I'd hate to replace the shaft after doing so.) Smile

~Theo
The way shafts were once made does make them faceted. But to stop them breaking the shaft could be made thick at head end, tapering back to the flights, as were many medieval war arrows.
Pages: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 44 45 46 47