This week, on a bit of a lark, we’re going to discuss the most common weapon, by far, in the Iron Age Mediterranean (focusing on the period from the 8th to the 1st centuries BC): the humble, effective and ubiquitous thrusting spear. In particular, I want to discuss the striking fact that despite the wide variation in other militaria in this period – quite different swords, shields, armor, helmets and so on – functionally every Mediterranean culture seems to have stumbled on effectively the same design of spear in this period.
And then we’ll talk a bit about why everyone might have settled on this particular design of spear. We’ll also briefly talk about some of the odd exceptions to this design and what they might be trying to accomplish. I should note that while I have at this point looked at a lot of spear heads (mostly as published, rather than in person; at this point, several hundred), some of my observations here are only hypothetical – I haven’t seen careful testing of the performance of different spearhead shapes, for instance.
(Edit: Fixed a measurement problem that came out of my notes. The diameter of the sockets for these spears are consistently 2-3cm. Not 2 inches. Notes also updated, not sure where that error crept in, the actual spearheads themselves are very consistent.)
And just to add a bit of a content warning here before we dive in, we’re going to be discussing the mechanics of how weapons function, which means I’m going to be giving some (fairly dry) and clinical descriptions of what a spear might do to a person. So fair warning, since some folks might find those descriptions a bit rough. As always, if you like what you are reading, please share it as I rely on word-of-mouth to find readers! And if you really like this and want to allow me to spend even more time studying spears (and perhaps buy some), you can support this project over at Patreon; supporters at the patres et matres conscripti level even get to vote on future topics (like our recent look at Greek and Phoenician colonization). If you want updates whenever a new post appears, you can click below for email updates or follow me on twitter (@BretDevereaux) for updates as to new posts as well as my occasional ancient history, foreign policy or military history musings, assuming there is still a Twitter by the time this post goes live. I am also on Bluesky (@bretdevereaux.bsky.social) and (less frequently) Mastodon (@email@example.com).
Some bibliography before we jump in. I am going to refer to typologies for some of these spears. For spears from pre-Roman Iberia (Spain and Portugal), I am using the typology from F. Quesada Sanz, El Armamento Ibérico. Estudio tipológico, geográfico, functional, social y simbólico de las armas en la Cultura ibérica (siglos VI-I a.C.) (1997), as it is the most comprehensive.1 For spears from La Tène material culture contexts (read: Gallic spears) I am using T. Lejar’s elaborated typology in La Tène: La Collection Schwab (Bienne, Suisse). La Tène, Un Site, Un Mythe 3. 2 vols. Lusanne: Cahiers d’archéologie romande, 2013, which builds on the typology in Brunaux, J.-L, and A. Rapin. Gournay II: Boucliers et Lances Dépôts et Trophées, 1988. For Roman spears of the imperial period, there is a typology in W.H. Manning, Catalogue of the Romano-British Iron Tools, Fittings and Weapons in the British Museum, 1985 which is useful, but which I had to modify for the period of the republic in my dissertation, B. Devereaux, “The Material and Social Costs of Roman Warfare in the Third and Second Centuries B.C.E.” 2018. As always, your first stop for anything related to Roman weaponry should be Bishop and Coulston, Roman Military Equipment from the Punic Wars to the Fall of Rome, 2nd. ed., 2006 (third edition, I am told, forthcoming!). The spearhead of the Greek dory, the weapon of the hoplite, is bizarrely understudied and to my knowledge has no comprehensive typology so what you get are short discussions scattered here, there and everywhere, which I am going to put in a footnote.2
So I first want to suggest a set of basic characteristics for what I am going to term the ‘omni-spear,’ the standard kind of iron-tipped one-handed thrusting spear that almost everyone fought with in the Mediterranean world.
So let us posit a spear. Its haft is made of wood – our ancient sources tend to be particular that certain kinds of wood, particularly ash and cornelian cherry (cornel wood), are best – and about 2.5 to 3m in length and roughly 2.5cm in diameter. Obviously, on one end we’ll have our iron spear head. On the other end, we probably have a smaller iron spear butt, sometimes called a ferrule.
For our spear tip, we’re going to have a hunk of iron about 250-450g in mass. It’s going to have a circular socket, about 2 to 2.5cm in diameter (to fit the haft) at its base. That socket will then proceed upwards into the tip as a ‘mid-ridge,’ though it generally stops being entirely hollow at some point. In two directions from the mid-ridge are going to project some ‘blades’ – if we’re French, we’ll call them flamme, ‘flames,’ while if we’re Spanish they’ll be hoja, ‘blades,’ and if we’re German they’re Blätter, ‘sheets, leaves.’ These taper at the tip and widen towards the base, usually before curving gracefully inward on the socket a few inches up from its base. Often scholars have called this a ‘leaf shaped’ spearhead, which I always find a bit awkward in phrasing (leaves can have many shapes), but the alternatives, like ‘tear-drop’ shaped, aren’t any less awkward. If you are having a hard time conceptualizing that picture, here is an example of what I mean:
For the bottom of the spear we could just go with nothing. We could also make a simple conical socket in iron and secure it with a rivet or, if we’re being really creative, a nail hammered into the base of the shaft. If we want to be really fancy, we might make a spear-butt that combines a circular socket with a long square-sectioned projection so that it serves better as a backup point in a pinch. If you want to see the more developed version of that, here is a Greek ‘sauroter,’ about the most elaborate this part of the spear gets:
And there we go. We have the ‘omni-spear.’ Basic spear-butt, ‘leaf-shaped’ spearhead with a strong mid-ridge, both generally in iron, joined by a 2.5-3m long wooden haft, about 2.5cm thick (though the haft might be thicker, as it could taper before meeting the socket) made of hardwood, with a grip at the center of balance.
That basic description describes the famous Greek dory, the spear of the hoplite. It also describes one of the more common forms of the Roman hasta, one with what I’ve termed a ‘Type A’ Roman spearhead (we’ll talk about some of the Roman variants in a moment). And it also describes the La Tène spear, the native of name of which we don’t know.4 And it also describes common thrusting spears of the Iberian Peninsula, both those used by the Iberians living in the coastal Levante and the Celtiberian peoples living on the Meseta; the names of those spears too are lost to us.5 And it also describes the common weapon of the Persian infantry, including their elite infantry which Herodotus calls ‘Immortals.’ Almost certainly it describes spears even further afield, but we are rapidly reaching the edge of my expertise, so I’ll stop with the Persian Empire.
Origin and Purpose of the Design
Why are so many early iron spearheads shaped this way? Well, the easy answer to the question is that it is because even earlier bronze spearheads were shaped this way. In every culture I’ve studied with the omni-spear, you can find bronze spearheads with the same basic shape – the strong mid-ridge, leaf-shaped blades and circular socket – proceeding them. There are differences; the bronze spearheads of this type tend to be shorter and as a result somewhat ‘stubbier’ (that is, they’re just as wide, but not as long) compared to the later iron spearheads with borrow their shape. That seems like it is probably a concession to metallurgy and possibly production. On the production side, bronze artifacts were generally cast to shape and depending on the temperature of the cast and type of casting method, that can place upper-limits on the size of the final artifact. Certainly ancient bronze-smiths were capable of managing very large casts with high quality metals – the heaviest recovered naval ram (the Athlit ram, as far as I know) is absolutely massive at 465kg, cast in a single piece.
That said, I suspect the real issue that limits the size of bronze spearheads is the metal itself. Weapons generally tend to push their materials to the outer edges of what they are capable of, because of the demand to keep weight low: the smith is looking to hit the absolute minimum amount of metal which will handle the strains of impact. And the strains of impact here are considerable! Bronze under stress tends to undergo plastic deformation, which is to say that it bends and doesn’t bend back, it isn’t ‘springy.’ As a result bronze weapons – swords, spearheads, arrow-heads, etc. – tend to be quite a bit shorter than later iron weapons, so that they can withstand the rigors of combat without permanently deforming in a way that would render them useless. But iron when put under mild stress deforms elastically, which is to say it is ‘springy’ and when the force of stress is removed it bends back to its original shape (adding carbon to make a high-carbon ‘spring steel’ can improve this quality), so even while iron isn’t any harder than bronze (though steel most certainly is), an iron weapon can take a bigger hit and not end up hopelessly bent. And that is even more true once you begin adding really any amount of carbon to make even very mild steels.
Consequently, you can push an iron sword to be longer for the same weight because you can count on it withstanding a hit, bending a bit to absorb the force and bending back when the force is removed, better than bronze. I suspect the same thing is happening as bronze spearhead designs shift to iron: smiths are realizing they can get a somewhat longer point, with a longer more deadly taper, without an unacceptable increase in weight.
But then why keep the shape? Because a lot of bronze age sword shapes drop or are extensively modified fairly quickly in the shift to iron in places where the omni-spearhead remains the standard shape, albeit somewhat larger than its bronze variant.
Well, the answer, to me, seems to be that its a pretty useful shape, at least in a particular combat environment.
The round socket, of course, is to fit the round haft of the spear. These sockets are, as noted, generally round, which suggests that these spears are almost entirely being used to thrust. You probably could cut with the edges of these blades, but if that was how you expected to use the spear, you’d want a different haft shape so that you could feel the alignment of the edges of the blades. Interestingly, octagonal or rhombic sockets are a minority type that appears in a lot of places (both Gaul and Spain, for instance), but they remain really rare, as opposed to, say, medieval polearms, where non-circular hafts become common over time so that the wielder can feel that edge-alignment.
Extending the socket to make the mid-ridge also makes a lot of sense, as it provides a nice, thick, stout element of the spear to resist the forces of impact, which is going to be a mix of compression and bending. In an ideal, perfect impact, it’d be all compression, but in the real world, your target isn’t standing still and your hit probably isn’t dead-on, so you want some part of the spearhead that can resist that impact and hold its shape, transmitting the force instead into the shaft. The mid-ridge, being nice and thick (and generally not hollow past the socket) accomplishes this neatly.
Meanwhile, those wide, thin blades ensure a wide wound that is going to slice through a lot of the target. You want that too, because the fellow striking with the weapon wants a wound which will disable their opponent as quickly as possible. After all, all of the time between the delivery of a wound and it becoming disabling is, definitionally, a period where you are in range of their counter-attack and they are not disabled and so able to give it. If you ever wondered why a lot of really narrow, quick effective piercing weapons like rapiers were less common on the battlefield, this is a big part of it: those penetrating wounds are really lethal but often not very quickly and in a battlefield (where you may not be able to quickly back off after having delivered a fatal wound) you want a wound that, fatal or not, is going to disable fast.
Wide slicing wounds do that for you, because they cut across blood vessels, muscles and tendons. The former leads to rapid blood-loss, which can be disabling (and of course, fatal, but again, you care about disabling; fatal or not is a problem to consider once you are out of danger), while the later can instantly render limbs useless. It doesn’t matter how much adrenaline or willpower an enemy has, if a blow has sliced the muscles they would use to move their limbs, they cannot physically move those limbs.
The shape of the blades also seems intentional. While we do see neatly ‘oval’ shaped blades, the most common shapes are ‘teardrop’ or ‘leaf’ shapes, which are widest close to the base. That probably helps in preventing over-penetration, because you need to be able to pull the spear back after delivering a strike; you do not want it stuck in the target. Likewise, I think that’s why truly ‘arrow’ shaped spearheads tend to be both early and relatively rare. Instead the base curves back into the socket rather than having barbs, to make it easier to get that spear back out of an opponent after you strike them.
At the same time, spears are by no means immune to weight considerations. Ideally a combatant wants the longest spear they can manage easily in a single hand. That in turn is going to place a hard limit on the weight of the spearhead; every gram in the spearhead shifts the center of balance forward, making the weapon harder to handle. Shifting that center of balance back means adding a gram to the spear butt. Spearheads are pretty much always heavier than spear butts (often several times over), but the basic interaction is there where adding mass to the tip of the spear imposes weight costs which limit length. The trade-off is actually quite clear in medieval spears, where winged and ‘hewing’ spears with larger spear-tips do, in fact, tend to be shorter and may have often been intended for use in two hands.
And because the humans in these systems don’t differ all that much, everyone more or less hits the same set of tradeoffs at basically the same point and so ends up developing spears with very similar weight and length characteristics. This should, I hope, help to dispel any myths that this or that group of ancient agrarian people were super-strong supermen; Greek, Roman, Spanish, Gallic, and Persian spears are all of the same basic length and weight and modern enthusiasts, reenactors and experimental archaeologists can wield those spears just fine. The basic limits of an average warrior haven’t changed all that much.
What you are left with is a spear with a 2-2.5m haft (probably just under 1kg), with spear-tips ranging from 150-450g, mostly clustered in the center of that range around 200g, and spear-butts typically very light, less than 100g and very simple in design (with an exception here for the elaborate Greek saurotar). A simple, no-frills design that would have been very effective on foot or on horseback.6
But as a basic design, the typical omni-spear provides a very effective balance of capabilities: the longest infantry spear that is easy enough to handle with a tip that is suitably deadly against lightly armored or unarmored targets and typically a spear-butt which both encloses the base of the spear (preventing it from delaminating) and provides a point which can be used to both brace the weapon and as an emergency back-up weapon, without adding unacceptable amounts of weight. Note, of course, that I’ve said unarmored or lightly armored: the wide blade on that spearhead is going to cause a strike to have to move aside quite a bit of armor if your opponent is wearing some, greatly limiting the depth of a strike if you have to move the weapon through, say, thick textile armor or mail. But assuming you only expect to strike unarmored targets, or the unarmored portions of armored targets, the shape is very effective.
And that leads us to the odd variants and changes to the omni-spear that we see in the ancient Mediterranean.
Moving Away From the Omni-Spear
The first odd point to discuss is length. Most points for omni-spears tend to sit in a fairly narrow size range, from around 20cm to about 35cm long. That should immediately make sense, because everyone is dealing with the same physics and the same human capabilities and thus the same weight concerns. Now these weapons are individually produced, often probably for individual users and so there is a lot of variation in this basic description. Always there are a few uncommonly small spearheads (though often these seem to be javelin points, which often resemble oval-shaped omni-spearheads just much smaller and lighter) and a few really big ones.
But on the Iberian Peninsula (Spain and Portugal) we see the striking oddity of a clearly chronologically defined type of larger spearhead. These are the early Type 1s (Quesada Sanz Type 1 which is the A-sub-variant of variants I and II; typologies get complicated) which have mean lengths over 40cm, with the longest examples being around 60 or even 70cm long. They’re not much narrower than later, more typical omni-spear spearheads either, so they are likely to be uncommonly heavy (though I haven’t yet had a chance to get one weighed). Interestingly, these types occur early, showing up in the fifth century, but being broadly replaced by more typically smaller omni-spearheads by the fourth century; one wonders if Spanish smiths ‘went ham’ with their new material for a bit before settling down to something more practical. But I think there must be a reason for these long types being dominant so early, which probably has to do with patterns of warfare and style of intended use; alas we have basically no evidence beyond the weapons themselves for warfare that early on the Iberian peninsula, so we’re left guessing. In the artistic reproductions, Quesada Sanz imagines these as being mounted on similarly long hafts, making a kind of pike, but I honestly wonder if they weren’t used with shorter hafts or perhaps two-handed (or both).
Meanwhile we have some interesting shape variants: the Roman ‘stiletto’ point and the La Tène ‘bayonet’ type (type IV). We can discuss the La Tène type first. Relatively rare, the modification is fairly simple: the mid-ridge now extends well beyond the blade, creating an elongated point several centimeters longs before the blades widen out. The type first appears in the late fourth century and is always quite rare, but there in the background.
Meanwhile, the Romans develop a rather unique spearhead type which replaces the mid-ridge and blade entirely with a square-sectioned spike, usually around 1cm x 1cm in section and often quite long. This is, to be clear, no longer an omni-spearhead at all; the point of this spear isn’t an extended mid-ridge (which would generally be rounded, either convex or concave when viewed straight on) but square-sectioned. One cannot help but think there is some connection to the Roman javelin, the pilum, which sometimes also has a square-sectioned point (but also often has arrow-shaped points), though square-sectioned ‘bodkin’ javelin points aren’t entirely unique to the Romans – some soliferrea from Spain have them too.
In either case, I think the reason for those designs is actually the same: they’re responses to mail armor. The long, narrow penetrating point isn’t particularly good for creating a rapidly debilitating wound, but it is quite good for creating a deep wound after splitting one of the rings of a mail shirt. And the chronology works out neatly: the ‘bayonet’ Type IV La Tène spearheads show up in the late 300s, right when we’re getting our earliest finds of mail, while the Roman ‘stiletto’ spearhead, to my knowledge, only starts showing up in the evidence in the second century or later (and continues into the empire). That the Roman ‘stiletto’ spearhead remains more common (though never a majority type) than the La Tène Type IV also makes sense, given that mail remains relatively rare in the La Tène context (where it was invented) but becomes far more common in the Roman context, where it is deployed widely by the common infantry in the second century. Indeed, I’d argue Roman weaponry, especially in the two first centuries, shows a lot of evidence of responding to mail, as the greatest threat to a Roman legionary (wearing mail) is increasingly another Roman legionary, also wearing mail.
Another unusual exception in Roman spearheads that have to be noted are Roman-style spearheads found in Numidia, particularly the set from the Tomb of Micipsa (d. 118).7 The grave there had four flat (see below) spearheads and two ‘stiletto’ types, but their dimensions were quite unusual. The sockets on these spearheads ranged from 1.2 to 1.6cm, rather than the typical 2-2.5cm for spearheads, and they were all very light, 66-77g. Roman spearheads are not normally that light. My suspicion here is Roman style weapons reconfigured to suit the Numidian form of warfare, which was light skirmishing javelin cavalry; Micipsa’s tomb also has a gladius and a Roman-style lorica hamata. The two ‘stiletto’ types are really distinctively Roman so it may be that there was a desire to have Roman shaped weapons (status reasons? they look cool? the Romans do lots of winning?) but the demands of Numidian warfare demanded lighter construction with a much thinner haft.
Another oddity worth explaining is the Greek sauroter; whereas most omni-spear spear-butts are quite simple, the Greek dory spear tends to have a significantly larger and more elaborate square-sectioned spear-butt (I’ve already pictured one above). Such a point could obviously be used in a number of ways and it is hard to know which use motivated its design. One such use is that the sauroter‘s spike could deliver a very powerful downward thrust to a downed enemy, potentially powerful enough to punch through a bronze breastplate (Greek breastplates in the Archaic and Classical are generally 1mm thick or less) or the textile production of a tube-and-yoke cuirass (=’linothorax‘) to deliver a finishing blow to a disabled opponent. The robust, square-sectioned shape would be ideal for this purpose for the same reason it was ideal for the Roman spearhead mentioned above: it concentrates a lot of force in a narrow space with a very stout bit of bronze or iron to enable it to punch through.
Alternately, of course, if a spear broke, a more robust spear-butt might enable the bottom half of the spear to be used more effectively as a weapon, and we certainly have references in the sources to spears being used this way in a pinch. Finally, the larger and heavier spear-butt would have pulled back the center of balance of the weapon; Greek spearheads aren’t unusually large or heavy, in my experience, but this may have made the spears – if perhaps a touch shorter – easier to handle in tight quarters.
The temptation, of course, in all of these cases is to see the development of this distinctive design element as connected to the hoplite and his phalanx and it isn’t hard to see the possible connections. The relatively ‘high armor’ environment might well have created a demand for a weapon which could quickly ‘finish off’ a downed or disabled but armored opponent. At the same time, the dense formation of the phalanx and thus the inability of any hoplite to withdraw if his spear broke might create a demand for a more effective secondary point, though of course hoplites also carried swords as backup weapons. And its possible that tighter quarters may have incentivized a differently balanced spear able to be used more easily overhand, as Greek art almost invariably represents the dory being used by hoplites.
On balance, myself, I favor the first explanation, that this is a response to a ‘high armor’ environment where hoplites tended to have body armor, either a bronze breastplate or a tube-and-yoke cuirass (= ‘linothorax‘). The thing is, the tactical system of the phalanx is not – to me at least – nearly as remarkable as it is often treated. Certainly, the La Tène equipment package seems to be intended for use by close-ordered infantry too and we see shield wall formations all over the ancient Mediterranean; ancient sources even occasionally describe Gallic shield walls as phalanxes! But what does seem unusual about hoplites is the assumption of their relatively heavy armor, very clearly not present in Spain or Gaul where most combatants lacked any kind of rigid or metal body armor.8 Heck, even basic metal helmets are relatively rare in the La Tène material culture zone and essentially absent in Spain before quite late (second century and after). Consequently, I think the sauroter is probably more a response to hoplite armor than it is to hoplite tactics.
But the most durable variation is the ‘flat’ spear-head. Here, the basic ‘leaf’ shape is retained, but the mid-ridge is dropped, in exchange for a thicker blade, with either a lenticular (‘lens like’ – an oval shape tapering to two sharp edges) or rhombic cross-section. For ancient spears, flat spearheads can be tricky to identify because these spearheads can end up so badly rusted you might be unsure – especially if all you have is an image – if the rust is just concealing a relatively weak mid-ridge or if there isn’t one. That said, flat spearheads seem to me to be most common in Roman context and start showing up in the Republic, presumably used by both the triarii and the cavalry. They also show up in Spain (they’re Quesada Sanz Type 17) but are very rare (Quesada Sanz notes just five examples in his corpus of 663 spear and javelin-tips (not including soliferrea or pila)). Critically, they come late, mostly post-200 BC, so they may just be Roman flat-headed spears or local imitations thereof.
In Roman contexts in both the late republic and the early empire, flat spearheads co-exist with mid-ridge types, though in the imperial examples I know, the mid-ridges are generally pretty weak. That is significant because by the time we reach the Middle Ages, the flat spearhead has become the common type in Europe (possibly elsewhere; my knowledge of post-Roman spears anywhere outside of western Europe is almost nil), so it seems plausible that the flat spearhead is at least spread and popularized by the Romans, though I don’t know that anyone has gone and demonstrated this; typologies for imperial spearheads focus on length, blade-shape or the ratio between blade-length and width.9
I can offer two hypotheses as to why the flat spearhead eventually replaces the omni-spear, both related to the qualities of iron. The first is that as smiths improved in iron-working and began producing spearheads of carburized iron or mild steel, they recognized that with the much greater hardness and elasticity of the metal as compared to bronze, the mid-ridge had become structurally unnecessary; with greater confidence in their materials, they could drop it. Moving material out to the blade from the mid-ridge would provide a more durable spear-shape (damage to the thin blades of these spears is very common), which might also have been more useful doing things like draw cuts, providing more options in combat.
The second hypothesis, which could well work with the first, has to do with ease of manufacture. For bronze spearheads, which were cast, the mid-ridge shape is easy enough to produce. For for iron spearheads, which must be forged, it is a harder shape to produce than the flat spearhead. The latter, after all, can simply be drawn out from a billet directly, perhaps with an additional step of welding a higher-carbon blade on to the outer edge. I am not a blacksmith, but by understanding of the manufacture suggests that as a result, the flat-bladed shape would be easier to produce in the forging process.
In either case, omni-spear spear heads stick around through the Roman period even into the late period. I actually can’t give a good date as to when these weapons finally vanish, though flat spearheads seem more common by the Middle Ages. Everywhere I look, the omni-spear shape will invariably show up with at least one artifact or piece of artwork attesting to its continued use. And why not – it was a very handy shape, even if apparently by the Roman imperial period the flat spearhead had begun to replace it.
But for centuries, this was the Mediterranean spear, an astoundingly successful weapon design used – or perhaps independently developed – by a host of different cultures.
- Also useful, but less comprehensive is P.F. Stary, Zur eisenzeitlichen Bewaffnung und Kampfesweise auf der Iberischen Halbinsel, 1994.
- See discussions in Everson, Warfare in Ancient Greece (2004), 62-3, 122-126; Jarva, Archaiologia on Archaic Greek Body Armour (1995), 137-8; Anderson, “Hoplite Weapons and Offensive Arms” in Hoplites: the Classical Greek Battle Experience, e.d. VDH (1991). Note also discussion in Schwartz, Reinstating the Hoplite (2013), 81-5. Now quite old but still often useful is Snodgrass, Arms and Armour of the Greeks (1967). I remain convinced I must have missed a comprehensive typology somewhere, but I have never found it in anyone’s notes. The absence is baffling to me, so I admit I really do suspect it may exist and I just don’t know it. On the later Macedonian sarisa, which uses a modified (very small) version of the omni-spearhead point, see Connolly, “Experiments with the sarissa” JRMES 11 (2000).
- Typology for La Tène spearheads here and following follows T. Lejars, La Tène: La Collection Schwab (Bienne, Suisse). La Tène, Un Site, Un Mythe 3. 2 vols. Lusanne: Cahiers d’archéologie romande, 2013. A fantastic volume, alas there appears to be exactly one library copy in the United States of America. Dating for types follows J.-L. Brunaux and A. Rapin, Gournay II: Boucliers et Lances, Dépôts et Trophées. Paris: Editions Errance, 1988.
- And before you jump up to tell me “oh, it was called a gaesum,” no, that’s a javelin and we do not know what sort of javelin correlates to that name preserved in our sources.
- And before someone jumps up and tells me, “oh, it was called a soliferreum, no, that’s also a javelin and we do know exactly what sort of javelin that correlates to. They’re super cool, but they are throwing weapons, not thrusting spears. Interestingly, all over the Iberian peninsula it seems to have been standard for warriors to carry one javelin (often, but not always a soliferreum) and one thrusting spear. We find that pattern over and over again in burial deposits.
- Though the Greek cavalry spear of the late-Classical and Hellenistic, the xyston – pronounced ksuston, not zystin – is differently structured than this.
- Published by G. Ulbert, “Das Schwert und die eisernen Wurfgeshoßspitzen aus dem Grab von Es Soumâa.” In Die Numider: Reiter und Könige nördlich der Sahara, edited by. H. G. Horn and C. B. Rüger. 1979
- Whereas Italy is an even more armor-heavy environment than Greece, interestingly.
- See Bishop and Coulston (2006), 76-7, fn. 7