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Quote:The weight of the surviving metal portions ranges between 61 and 95 grams, IIRW.
Of roughly 100 plumbatae that I know of, I have the weight of only 11 that include shaft and lead weight. These weigh resp. 38, 48, 60, 66, 74, 91, 101, 105, 118, 132 and 180 grams.
Robert/Aitor,

This seems to be a very weighty point. :wink: With such a range of
weights to the originals, does that suggest that they were designed for different ranges in combat? After all, if we're told that each man carried
a nominal load of five behind his shield, maybe we shouldn't be assuming that they were all identical in weight. If they were, in fact, graduated in weight from 1 - 5, then this would allow them to be used one after the other as the enemy closed range with you (or alternatively, if your own
men were throwing them on the run while charging the enemy). 8)

Ambrosius
That sounds way too complicated. This was a fast 'n dirty weapon, easy to make and thrown without aiming. Why need plumbatae for different ranges when you could determine that range in your throw? Throw vertical/high and the arc will be short, throw horizontal/flat and you'll get close range, with the ideal throw inbetween for the longest range. It's a bit like a mortar. Big Grin

So when we're talking about big difference in weight, I personally would guess that it had to do with the amount of lead spent at the time, which may not have been properely measured before it was poored.
Perhaps different units preferred different weights of plumbata. I know that I have a preferred weight of slingstone. Some units might have hated the damn things altogether (depends how many casualties they inflicted on their own side!)
Quote:That sounds way too complicated.

Well, it isn't really. After all, Peter Connolly's experiments of throwing
the various types of pila show that there was also a considerable range
of weights for these, too. In fact, I think there was a similar range of
weights to your plumbatae, with the lightest pila being around o.5 kilos
and the heaviest (Renieblas) almost 2 kilos. With the lightest having the
longest ranges, and the heaviest the shortest. We don't even know how
the pila were thrown. Did only the front ranks throw? Did they throw
and rotate with the ones behind to maintain a constant barage (in some
situations)? Did a depth of six ranks all throw together, using the same
weight of pilum? Did six ranks throw together, but with a range of weights
to their pila, so that they all landed at the same range? And the same
questions could be asked for plumbatae.

We know from Arrian's formation to counter the Alans that he ordered
the front ranks to use their weapons (pila/spears?) as pikes, to halt the
cavalry charge, while the ranks behind indeed did throw their pila over
the heads of the front ranks. Maybe the same tactics were used for
plumbatae. If you want a depth of six or eight ranks all to throw at once
for maximum firepower, the you might want them to have different
weights of plumbatae so as to converge at a particular range.

Sure, you can vary the range by varying the trajectory, but as we all
know, 'mortar shots' can scare your own side as much as the enemy :o

As Mithras & Aitor point out, overarm gives more predictability (without
necessarily compromising the range). Maybe in combat what you might sometimes want is a uniform motion from all ranks with varying weights to give variation in the ranges. The truth is, we don't even know if the
Romans used over/underarm or both.

Quote: So when we're talking about big difference in weight, I personally would guess that it had to do with the amount of lead spent at the time, which may not have been properely measured before it was poored.

Sure, there would be some variation. But a mould should give you a
reasonably reproducible weight of lead each time. If there's a difference
of between 38 and 180+ grams then these were obviously made from
different sized moulds. Different moulds for differnent ranges? Of course,
maybe not all these weights would be in use at the same time, since
pilum weights varied through history. Maybe plumbatae weights might
have increased or decreased over time.

Ambrosius
Quote:
Vortigern Studies:3i2gz6mu Wrote:That sounds way too complicated.
Well, it isn't really. After all, Peter Connolly's experiments of throwing
the various types of pila show that there was also a considerable range
of weights for these, too. In fact, I think there was a similar range of
weights to your plumbatae, with the lightest pila being around o.5 kilos
and the heaviest (Renieblas) almost 2 kilos.
Ok, but then the pilum is a weapon which takes more skill and time to make, while the plumbata is a mass-produced one, which was probably designed foe a high rate of production. How does it take to produce a pilum?
My point is that my assumption is that using weight and moulds for varying ranges would make less sense if you can achieve that by other means, without compromising the rate of production in any way.

Quote:With the lightest having the longest ranges, and the heaviest the shortest. We don't even know how the pila were thrown. Did only the front ranks throw? Did they throw and rotate with the ones behind to maintain a constant barage (in some situations)? Did a depth of six ranks all throw together, using the same weight of pilum? Did six ranks throw together, but with a range of weights to their pila, so that they all landed at the same range? And the same questions could be asked for plumbatae.
Indeed, and we don't have answers there either. I'm not for a 'rotation system' between ranks, because that creates a sort of confusion which can cost you the battle in case of a fast determined attack.
The only difference between pila and plumbatae that I can see so far is that you can aim a pilum at a target, but not a plumbatae - if we're talking ranges where it would matter to use different weights. At point blank range is a different ballgame.

Quote: We know from Arrian's formation to counter the Alans that he ordered
the front ranks to use their weapons (pila/spears?) as pikes, to halt the
cavalry charge, while the ranks behind indeed did throw their pila over
the heads of the front ranks. Maybe the same tactics were used for
plumbatae. If you want a depth of six or eight ranks all to throw at once
for maximum firepower, the you might want them to have different
weights of plumbatae so as to converge at a particular range.
From what I've read so far, that's exactly the same tactics for plumbatae as well as other javelins.
Now, can you tell me if there were differnet weighted pila used in a battle? If so, that could mean something similar for plumbatae. If not, my best guess is local differences in production.

Quote: As Mithras & Aitor point out, overarm gives more predictability (without necessarily compromising the range).
Oh, I think so. Any test done so far shows that underarm gets you the best range. If not, I hope Aitor and Mithras can enlighten me. Big Grin

Quote:Maybe in combat what you might sometimes want is a uniform motion from all ranks with varying weights to give variation in the ranges. The truth is, we don't even know if the Romans used over/underarm or both.
Nope, we don't. Worse, we still don't know at all when plumbatae were thrown, or which command was used.

Quote:Sure, there would be some variation. But a mould should give you a
reasonably reproducible weight of lead each time. If there's a difference
of between 38 and 180+ grams then these were obviously made from
different sized moulds. Different moulds for differnent ranges? Of course,
maybe not all these weights would be in use at the same time, since
pilum weights varied through history. Maybe plumbatae weights might
have increased or decreased over time.
Ah, but don't get me wrong, these plumbatae are not uniformly shaped. Some have a metal shaft instead of a wooden one, which of course contributes to their weight...
Quote:Perhaps different units preferred different weights of plumbata. I know that I have a preferred weight of slingstone. Some units might have hated the damn things altogether (depends how many casualties they inflicted on their own side!)
Indeed, we even don't have any information about what units used plumbatae.
I mean, we know it probably started out with the Ioviani and Herculiani, but how fast did it spread? Did even all Roman units use them?
In fact, even though vegetius and Maurikios prescribe their use not only in a pitched batlle but also with reconnaissance or with defending the siege train, how come that so far no plumbatae turned up in the Middle East or Norh Africa?
Quote:In fact, even though vegetius and Maurikios prescribe their use not only in a pitched batlle but also with reconnaissance or with defending the siege train, how come that so far no plumbatae turned up in the Middle East or Norh Africa?

Really? That's interesting... as I read more and more of Vegetius, and especially Maurikios, I was amazed at how many times plumbata were mentioned. I initially considered them an odd weapon, a one-off with limited appeal. Having them mentioned as battlefield regulars in 400AD and the late-500s, almost two centuries later, is amazing. This was a real weapon, used often and obviously with great effect. To me, it marks the Late Romans out as the fransisca marks out the Franks.

And yes, underarm gives great ranges! One of our members boasts a 90m range with a plumbata!
Quote:And yes, underarm gives great ranges! One of our members boasts a 90m range with a plumbata!
Sheesh! I hope you folks can meet us at Archeon - we must set up some tests!! Who was it?
Quote:
Mithras:1dxbcxmn Wrote:And yes, underarm gives great ranges! One of our members boasts a 90m range with a plumbata!
Sheesh! I hope you folks can meet us at Archeon - we must set up some tests!! Who was it?

It was John Conyard, unit commander. I did not witness that cast, however, and cannot verify it!!!!!
Quote:
ambrosius:vqonkwsh Wrote:As Mithras & Aitor point out, overarm gives more predictability (without necessarily compromising the range).
Oh, I think so. Any test done so far shows that underarm gets you the best range. If not, I hope Aitor and Mithras can enlighten me.

[quote="Aitor":vqonkwsh] Yes, overarm offers the best results (we started throwing
underarm too, but it was a fiasco :? ). We are consistently getting
results over 70 metres too Smile wink:

Ambrosius
Does anybody know where these plumbatae come from - ancient or replica?

[url:jcb09dul]http://www.mambri.com/images/plumbata1.jpg[/url]
[url:jcb09dul]http://www.mambri.com/images/plumbata2.jpg[/url]
Robert,
The points are modern replicas by Armillum. Yet in pre-production phase. You can contact Jordi (Octavianus) for more information! Big Grin

Aitor
Quote:
Dan Howard:zmxxssbc 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?

OK. I have a scan of the article. Give me an email address capable of accepting a 3mb .pdf attachment and I'll shoot it over.
I've sent you a PM. Thanks!