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Plumbatarii or Plumbata is what it’s called and it’s described as an iron dart. Until I got my current issue of Ancient Warfare magazine vol 4, issue 3, I didn’t fully appreciate its use historically.
Some of you may not be old enough to remember but back in the 70’s there was an outdoor back yard game you could play called lawn darts. The concept was similar to horse s***s you through the darts under arm in a lob ball fashion and tried to get them as close to or in the ring itself.
The game was discontinued due to too many fatalities because of the pointed ends.
This weapon does belong in the missile category but has some unique characteristics which made it very popular in the late Roman army. For starters you through it under hand lob ball style.
The reason for this is simple, the design of the weapon. It was roughly 18” long give or take. It had a wooden shaft for the handle and below that was it was fletched with two flights 180 degrees apart. It was then attached to an iron shank through either socket or tang fitting. In the middle of the dart where they joined was the lead weight and on the pointy end of the dart was barbed head.
Why this weapon was was more effective then the standard pila (not sure of the spelling for that)?
It had a longer ranch, more could be carried (either in a quiver or stored in brackets inside the shield) and it has a unique trajectory once thrown. Because of the lead weight it would travel high in the air and come straight down more of less like a modern day mortar bomb.
When the time comes for Rome II to come out or what ever it’s going to be called I am hoping the PC animation simulates the throwing of the weapon in the proper fashion, under hand.
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