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Full Version: Peter Connolly and the Pilum
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In a recent article published in the ESG's Bulletin EXERCITUS, Connolly refuse the old idea that pilum was designed to bend in a impact.

He analizes the archaeological evidence and propose that the "standar" pilum represented by the Oberaden exemplar was substituted early in the first century by another tipe, a lot less complicated to do.

So, all the groups probably have to remake our pila... :roll:

Or maybe not? :?:
In JRMES 12/13 he points out none of the sources from Polybius, etc, say a pilum is designed to bend, only the hasta velitaris. He does say that Marius replaced the iron rivets were replaced with wooden pegs to break on impact and drag the Cimbri shields down. He believes the pilum shank was such a long length to pierce the shield and the man behind it, and had nothing to do with 'bending'. He tested out a number of pila (11) he reconstructed of various types found, using mild steel (as close to Roman carbon-contaminated iron as he could get), on shields. None of them bent, but many penetrated. He also got his brother-in-law, a heavy farm labourer, to test them and had the same results, but they all penetrated. The penetrating pila did have to be cut though, to free the shield.
Quote:In JRMES 12/13 he points out none of the sources from Polybius, etc, say a pilum is designed to bend, only the hasta velitaris... He believes the pilum shank was such a long length to pierce the shield and the man behind it, and had nothing to do with 'bending'.

Yes, this present article is an update of a much earlier article Peter wrote
for JRMES, where he was looking at Republican pila. This one examines
early Imperial pila in exactly the same way. As he explained in the first
article, according to the range of the heavy pila, combined with the
closing speed of the two armies, there is absolutely no way in Hell that
the enemy front rank would have had the time even to attempt to pull
out any pila stuck in their shields before the Romans began laying into
them with the gladius. He calculates that no more than four seconds
would have elapsed between the pila being thrown and the two front
ranks clashing. Therefore, the whole idea of designing pila to prevent
them being withdrawn from the enemy's shields and thrown back at you
is sheer nonsense. There just would not be enough time. Therefore, the
*only* reason for having such a long, thin shank on the pilum is in order
to pass right through the shield *and* the man behind it. And yes, with a
pyramidal tip that we all know was case-hardened, that would also mean
punching through any mail armour that the enemy was wearing, too 8)


Quote:The penetrating pila did have to be cut though, to free the shield.

Well, you could do that. Or maybe, after the battle, the armourers could
go round sawing through the enemy shields (which wouldn't be needed)
to free the pila. Or maybe they had special tools for releasing the grip of
the plywood/planks of the shield on the shank, so that they could be
withdrawn backwards. Because, of course, if they really weren't meant to bend, after all, you'd want to be able to re-use them :wink:

Ambrosius