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Intereresting!! So far the old tests always had shorter ranges when throwing overarm..
What's the weight of your plumbatae? I think that was never part of any published test.

I haven't tested my plumbatae in ages. Not enough plumbatae, no good testing range (the ones we had kept breaking), not enough time lately. Cry
Our plumbatae are exactly 200 grams in weight, but we gave up practicing with them after several extremely harrowing near misses. Our blunt plumbata are almost certainly too light. I am planning to make an exact blunt copy (weight and length) for testing with a sling - which I contest is a great way to throw a plumbata from behind the ranks.
Quote:
Dan Howard:3gva0ixv Wrote:There is an article about slinging plumbata (actually it is the kestros or cestrosphendone) in the RA Journal - Arms and Armour vol2, No 1 2005. pp79-86
I have been discussing this some time ago on slinging.org.
Could you get me a copy or a scan of the pages?

Will try. Might take a couple of days.
Our plumbatas weigh around 300 grams. Most of them break on impact and we're start to wonder if that is not a more or less intended 'mishap' (A broken plumbata cannot be sent back... :wink: )

Aitor
Quote:Our plumbatas weigh around 300 grams. Most of them break on impact and we're start to wonder if that is not a more or less intended 'mishap' (A broken plumbata cannot be sent back... :wink: )

We were considering the same point this weekend when we lost a complete plumbata head in the ground and couldn't dig it out. But from the Roman perspective - who cares if they break on impact?

I think they are a very nasty weapon, and I would not want to be under a constant barrage of them from the enemy. At least pila are short range and come in a couple of volleys. Its the way that they plunge out of the sky that's the terrifying bit. When one went astray a couple of years ago, the shout went up, and several people froze and daren't move, preferring to risk a hit on helmet or mail shoulders than look up and watch for the falling dart ... Confusedhock:
I would imagine that the range, along with a sustained rate of fire would have had devastating effects on other infantry formations.

Has anyone tried to see how long it would take to say have a formation volley fire five off in a row?

I can only speculate, but would improvements in armor along with the less infantry and more cavalry formations have been the reason that it faded out of use, along with improvements in bows and their range and power?

Cheers!!,

Mike
Quote:Our plumbatas weigh around 300 grams. Most of them break on impact and we're start to wonder if that is not a more or less intended 'mishap' (A broken plumbata cannot be sent back... :wink: )
That might in some cases explain why we find broken plumbatae, but never a sign of the shaft.

But then I read about the pilum, of which we also thought that it was designed to break.. Are the barbed heads not reason enough to assume they would not be easy to extract and hurl back?
I discussed this with Derk Groeneveld and he also had some doubts. Did such weapons (designed to be used once) ever exist?
This was a 'fire and forget' weapon, mass-made, mass-launched. It may have been designed thus, but because of it's easy and cheap design i would rather think that this was an unintended effect. maybe not uwelcome, but still unintended.
Quote:Has anyone tried to see how long it would take to say have a formation volley fire five off in a row?
None that I know of.
For now, we are still busy with the question who and when they were thrown!
One group has the front rank step forward and throw, then move back through the ranks and repeat the move, until all ranks have thrown.

I'm almost sure this was not how it was done. It would make the formation unstable, not to mention the 1 metre-distance between each man when the front rank moves back, something we have discussed and not ever seen in any source (besides, Vegetius says each man occupies 6 feet - that includes the space to the next man!). Also, this way you can't fire a complete volley from all the arnks at once.

My guess, therefore, is that plumbatae were either thrown from a great distance to the enemy lines (ranges of 70 metres now seeming normal) or thrown by the back 4 ranks over the heads of the 4 ranks in front of them, all through the battle.

Quote:I can only speculate, but would improvements in armor along with the less infantry and more cavalry formations have been the reason that it faded out of use, along with improvements in bows and their range and power?

No, I don't think so. These weapons entered service at the very end of the 3rd c., and I can't see any improvements in armor with the enemies after that. Cavalry makes no difference, I'd say that a good plumbatae volley can stop any cavalry charge or at least throw it into confusion.
Bows were already present, range and power (I think) did not develop that much.
One reason for any demise might be the end of the state-funded standing armies in the West.
On the other hand, we know they continued in use in the East for some time.
I have an as yet unconfirmed claim that they were also in use during Frankish times.
Oh! We could have tried some plumbata testing this weekend at our training session (which is, unfortunately only once a year). I would absolutely LOVE to have our two lines of infantry all throw plumbata over-arm from behind their shields. For that matter I would like to see Comitatus do the same with veruta or spicula (at least the front or second rank).

But during events, weapon demonstrations are split from the drill practice, for good reasons.

Still, it would be neat!! Its how you test all these theories of how they were used.
Quote:
aitor iriarte:1q4r91xv Wrote:Our plumbatas weigh around 300 grams. Most of them break on impact and we're start to wonder if that is not a more or less intended 'mishap' (A broken plumbata cannot be sent back... :wink: )
That might in some cases explain why we find broken plumbatae, but never a sign of the shaft.

Hey Robert - might that not be because they were made of wood? 8)

Quote:But then I read about the pilum, of which we also thought that it was designed to break..

Yep. And that was wrong, too, according to Peter Connoly... :wink:

Quote:Are the barbed heads not reason enough to assume they would not be easy to extract and hurl back?
I discussed this with Derk Groeneveld and he also had some doubts. Did such weapons (designed to be used once) ever exist?

Well, I'd guess... no. After all, if archers collected their arrows after a battle, and defenders in a walled-town even let their men down on ropes
at night to retreive those funny-shaped stones (which they threw at the
beseiging forces during the day) then I's say that no weapon was ever
considered truly expendable (if there was even a chance of getting it back to use again) :wink:

Ambrosius
Quote:
Vortigern Studies:3flejo4w Wrote:
aitor iriarte:3flejo4w Wrote:Our plumbatas weigh around 300 grams. Most of them break on impact and we're start to wonder if that is not a more or less intended 'mishap' (A broken plumbata cannot be sent back... :wink: )
That might in some cases explain why we find broken plumbatae, but never a sign of the shaft.
Hey Robert - might that not be because they were made of wood? 8)

Good point, but I was thinking that wood is not always lost, traces do turn up. So far, except from traces within the lead weight, no plumbata found so far shows any trace of the shaft.
Aitor,

Your range of 70 mts...

Was made with the soldier wearing all the equipment (shield, helmet...)?

And i think it will be very interesting to make public some result of your testing, better in a cientific article or so.
No, the soldier was unarmoured but he was unskilled, on the other hand. :wink:
We should work more seriously on the subject. Now I have had access to real Roman plumbatae and I feel that the weight and shape of the weights on ours should be modified. If I only had more time... :?

Aitor
Quote:Our plumbatas weigh around 300 grams.
Mine weigh 200+ (the new ones) and 220- (the older ones). I wonder if that accounts for a greater range...

Quote:We should work more seriously on the subject. Now I have had access to real Roman plumbatae and I feel that the weight and shape of the weights on ours should be modified.
We should, maybe something to think about this summer? Big Grin

In what way should they be modified? Heavier or lighter?
Haha, good question!
I'll tell you when I make a new one... :wink:
The weight of the surviving metal portions ranges between 61 and 95 grams, IIRW.

Aitor