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Great work Robert - keep it up!
Hard on the heals of yet another find of Roman presence deep inside Germany, long after the Varus disaster, is something I'd like to hear a few opinions on. One class of finds among plumbata are the 'doubtfuls', barbed heads without a lead weight that remain in doubt whether they are belonging to plumbatae or javelin heads. In some cases I have severe doubts when an author labels a find as a plumbata, but in others I'm not so sure if a javelin head really is just that.

In this case the doubt is added to by the position - the find originates from a region about 50 km NNW from Leipzig (see map below) but about double that distance away from the Harzhorn battlefield and the recently discovered marching camp.

The object itself could of course be a javelin. Archaeolologists dubbed it an 'angon' but also realised that's it's by far too short to be that. The dating is late Roman (4th c.) and other military objects from this period (pieces of the military belt) have been found in the same area. No details of the site are known.

[attachment=9874]Mosigkau200mm.jpg[/attachment]

What do you think?

Here's the map with the find deep inside Germany:
[attachment=9873]plumbataemap2014-04-01.jpg[/attachment]
Surprisingly much less/almost nothing was found at orient(by which I mean everything behind Constantinople more to the east).Any theory why?
In the 4th century that would put them in roughly Burgundian lands.
Quote:Surprisingly much less/almost nothing was found at orient(by which I mean everything behind Constantinople more to the eeast).Any theory why?

Several.
The 'regional' theory makes this a purely western weapon, which was only used by the field army troops. This would in general explain why 'less modern' units in Spain or Africa did not use it. I'm not sure I agree with this theory, because Roman units were travelling all over the empire.
The 'excavation' theory blames it on the way archaeology is done is several countries. Britain scores much higher 928) than other countries in Western Europe, while in others such as Turky or Syria the plumbata may not be recognised as such. This theory does not take into account that British archaeologists also work on near Eastern sites.

I don't really know, to be sure. Some plumbatae are from the 6th century, which means they were not a weapon used for a short time. And yet they do not show up on many Roman sites. Dura Europos for instance has shown no plumbatae at all - I asked Simon James himself.
I have scrolled through this thread to see if I could find anything on the comparative sizes of plumbatae but, if it was there, I missed it. This latest example seems too big. The only one I have been able to study at close range, in the museum in Newport, South Wales (presumably from Caerwent), seems in my recollection to have been much smaller. I think that we may have here simply a matter of construction technique. Similar-looking weapons could be produced in the same way in a variety of sizes and for a variety of purposes: spears, light javelins, plumbatae, even arrow heads, perhaps. Without a scale or measurements, it would be difficult to tell from illustrations alone. I may be a purist and in danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater but I would be inclined to say, "No lead weight, no plumbata" and rule out the 'doubtfuls'.
Hi Michael,
Quote: I have scrolled through this thread to see if I could find anything on the comparative sizes of plumbatae but, if it was there, I missed it. This latest example seems too big.
It's large, sure, but I have in the database 4 that are longer, 3 of them with a lead weight.

Quote: I may be a purist and in danger of throwing out the baby with the bathwater but I would be inclined to say, "No lead weight, no plumbata" and rule out the 'doubtfuls'.
I'd say you are fully entitled to that position, in fact I think you are right. In any forthcoming article I will of course mention that we can only be sure of the ones with a lead weight (or a weight alone), before discussing the others which we can't be sure of.

To return to this one, can it be a javelin head or is it too small for that?
Quote:To return to this one, can it be a javelin head or is it too small for that?
I don't think so. It's a bit shorter than the length given by Vegetius for the head of the spiculum (22.14 cm.) but longer than that he gives for the verutum (12.3 cm.).
Quote:It's a bit shorter than the length given by Vegetius for the head of the spiculum (22.14 cm.) but longer than that he gives for the verutum (12.3 cm.).
I would not compare it to the Roman weapons described by Vegetius. Neither is barbed - one is described as having a triangular point, the other as a 'modern' version of the pilum (which makes me this of the 'angon' with a long metal shank). I was thinking more of Germanic javelins?
The former number of plumbatae from Serbia (30) is recently increased with another specimen discovered in the riverbed of Sava near Sremska Mitrovica (Sirmium). It is treasured in the Museum of Srem in Sremska Mitrovica.
Salve
Miroslav
I just can't get the idea out of my head, that plumbatas were a perfect weapon for breaking cavalry formations. Think about these barbed-headed, weighted darts dangling from the sides of horses. The horses must have gone mad... Wink
There is an obvious conceptual flaw in the plumbata with spikes projecting from them as suggested by the author of the 'De Rebus Bellicis' in that whilst indeed they would have proven a hazard to the enemy if t hey advanced and stepped on them, they would equally have proved hazardous to any pursuing Romans!!!
But you could say the same of any caltrop.
Quote:But you could say the same of any caltrop.

Indeed so Michael, which probably explains why they were seldom used apart from during sieges.
Hi Adrian,

Quote:There is an obvious conceptual flaw in the plumbata with spikes projecting from them as suggested by the author of the 'De Rebus Bellicis' in that whilst indeed they would have proven a hazard to the enemy if t hey advanced and stepped on them, they would equally have proved hazardous to any pursuing Romans!!!

So far none of these have been found. That's why I support the opinion that this 'caltrop-plumbata' was no more than a suggestion of the anonymous author, one of many in his manuscript, and like these never a reality.
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