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When facing the Macedonian how did the Roman Pilum do against the phalanx? In Alexander's wars the Phalanx was known to deflect arrows due to the density. How did the Roman Pilum do or what would it do?
I don't know specifically about the Macedonian phalanx, but against the Nervii Julius Caesar writes it was very effective, by sometimes pinning overlapped shields together...and presumably some of the men behind the shields.
But what type of shields did the Nervii carry? Were they made similarly to other Gallic shields and scutum, of wood planks glued together and encased in a skin? If so, that is directly the type of shield the pilum was designed to pierce, by Samnites if I recall.

On the flip side, and I am not an expert on Greek and Macedonian armor, weren't the shields of the Macedonian phalanx metal covered, of bronze or silver? I wonder how well an iron pilum would do against it. Some of you reenactors need to start making some You Tube videos...

Someone else can definitely answer this better than I can (Macedon, where you at?) but weren't the front rankers of the phalanx the best equipped in terms of armor? And weren't they the bravest?

If so, then the massed throwing of the pila might not have been as deadly as some would think. Their shield and armor would protect against most impacts, the unlucky would take wounds to the exposed portions of the body. If those in the front ranks were positioned there because they were steadfast and courageous, then the psychological toll of the missile barrage would probably be limited. It just the price you have to pay in war in order to get close enough to the enemy to kill them. Warrior mentality and all that.

Off the top of my head, I can't think of any passage in a primary source that indicates the pilum was a deciding weapon in battle. Someone else may though. But many have a tendency to overthink it and dream of some super armor piercing death javelin. It's just a wooden shaft with a short to long iron shank of unhardened iron that was thrown by hand, evidently without even an amentum (in the Republican period at least). It wasn't a depleted uranium tank round.

Also, most of Rome's enemies either armed their infantry with throwing missiles as well (Gauls, Iberians, etc.) or had their own skirmishers to do it for them. The Romans would probably get as good as they got.

Overall, I think the effectiveness of pilum in battle is overestimated.
It is not due to the shields, that arrows dont harm the Macedonian Phalanx, but due to the arrows getting entangled in the spears.

So if you throw the pila in a high curve, they will face the same problem. It would be ideal to throw them underhand, close to the ground, so it hits the feet or slides into the lines.

How would you throw a 5-7 ft long pilum underhanded with any sort of force? Is there any evidence that anyone ever threw a javelin underhanded?

Also, exactly how high of an arc do you think pilum were thrown at? My guess, the max a man would attempt is about 45 degrees. Any higher and you lose distance and force.

How much protection would the shafts and points of upright pikes give to the front rankers?
There is no evidence that the pila of the Romans had any serious effects on the Macedonian phalanxes. It seems that the legions were particularly ineffective when facing them frontally since the only good examples of such victories would be against the Mithridatean phalanxes. I doubt that the number of sarisae was any good in checking missiles in general and javelins in particular, to me more of an urban legend than truth, and I admit that I would expect them to be more vulnerable than other troop types because of their relatively small shields, the peltae. However, nothing suggests that they were. Maybe the pila were not effective against armor? Maybe it was easy for an orderly phalanx to quickly fill the ranks of any wounded soldiers?
I actually throw javelin for my college in the US. I can attest that javelins can, in fact, skid on the ground. They (though this is far from proper throwing technique, or safe) can be throw be moving your arm in a sideways, lateral motion (like skipping a stone) with great force. If thrown level, a javelin will hit the ground and skid very quickly over a considerable distance. I have no experience with pilum, but given the physical descriptions of un-weight pilum, I believe it possible to throw one at an enemies feet. That theory does have some credibility, as it is quite hard to do anything with a five foot spear through your ankle, and I'm certain there was no standard way that legionaries threw a pila.

Can you post a video of you or someone else using this sidearm or underhand method. My interest is piqued. Also, do you think the shape and construction of the collegiate style javelins helped when it came to bouncing? I imagine it puts a tremendous amount of stress on the missile. I've seen an ash javelin shaft snap in two from an errand throw after hitting the side of a piece of plywood. I've been throwing one of these around ( and haven't managed to skip it yet. Nor pierce 1/4" plywood from 10 ft. away, though it does stick in it rather well (bent the tip though).

On a side note, in a month or so, I will have a "properly" made Republican-era heavy pilum (custom made from Arms & Armor). I intend to use it for testing. I am going to make some layered plank shields and throw the pilum against them. Might even hang a pig carcass behind it. I will video tape everything as well. The pilum shank will be made of unhardened iron (not steel) like the originals were, so I think the results should be interesting. I expect the shank to bend some but I will heat and hammer it straight when necessary. If anyone would like to donate some armor or anything else for testing, give me a holler. ;-)
Judge by yourself...
[Image: watch?v=GLG0hLNXr9M&feature=share&list=U...P3JN_6d_bQ]
Throwing pila test. Evocati Apri Scipioni.

Throwing test
Detail of the shield
Throwing pila test. Evocati Apri Scipioni

[img width=420][/img]
Jorge, you had three posts leading to the same link, so I left one. Hope I did not miss something?
Pilum Fail
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