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Hello everyone,

My name is Joseph and this is my first time posting. Please forgive any breaches of forum etiquette. I am new to the world of Roman military studies.

I am a graduate student researching East Asian weaponry and military organization. I have recently become interested in learning more about such developments in the West.

I understand that the nature of the Roman military changed considerably by period, but how was the manufacture and distribution of weapons undertaken and performed (strictly government-owned workshops? Would village smiths be able to/allowed to manufacture weapons?)? Secondly, were the dimensions of swords highly standardized (length and breadth of blade, etc.)? I am particular curious about possible standardization of sword length. Has this been addressed in the literature?

I am currently reading James' Rome and the Sword. How has this book been received by military historians of the field?

Additionally, do you have any recommendations for books or journal articles on the subject of weapons distribution or standardization of weapon size?

I hope this barrage of questions wasn't too much. If you could even point me in the right direction, I would greatly appreciate it. Thank you and I look forward to learning much from this great resource of a forum,
For a quick overview, try one or more of the Osprey books that cover a range of time and the culture that interests you. You can start your search here. Many hobby shops carry these books, and while they are not intended to be a detailed treatise, they are great for a quick look, and have considerable information packed into them. The illustrations are always very entertaining and informative.

You can get a good list here:

Hope that helps. These books are also available on Amazon and other online book sellers, new and used.
Quote:I am currently reading James' Rome and the Sword. How has this book been received by military historians of the field?

Hi Joseph,

You might want to take a look at the Bryn Mawr review:
Hi Joseph,

Welcome to the forum. Using the "search" function will unlock much information in previous threads, so there are many nights of interesting reading ahead . To get back to your question, it is believed the Roman army was not as standarised as a modern army would tend to be. Gear stayed in use for long periods, as it was personal issue. So different swordtypes would co-exist in the same period. It is likely militairy weapons would have been made in fabrica. But we have so little left of the thousands of swords, we now see a great variation. Do not forget back then functionality was the norm, so a blacksmith making two swords would likely produce two which were close, but not the same.

Oh, and look up Christian Miks, he has done a great book on just about all Roman swords ever found. He shows them all, too :-)
M. Demetrius:

Thank you for your reply. Yes, I am familiar with the Osprey series and have found them informative and enjoyable over the years. Unless I have overlooked something, I have not noticed my particular area of interest addressed. I will look through them once more.

Thank you again.
Titus Statilius Castus:

Thank you for pointing me in the direction of that review.

Thank you for your reply. I understand that differences did exist even within "standardized" weaponry before the Industrial Revolution (of course, after, in some cases). But do we recognize efforts to align sword lengths, even within 5 or so centimeters? Would you happen to be familiar with contemporary efforts towards standardization or efforts to limit or increase sword lengths? Due to formation, foot soldiers would of course lean towards shorter weapons and cavalry toward longer weapons, but was this an institutionalized effort or simply a practical consideration?

I have seen Miks cited often, but have yet to get my hands on his work (the language barrier is one issue).

Thank you again!