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Military Technology of the Roman Empire

Evolution of the Sword

First Sword One of the first of the Roman swords.  They decided to use this sword when they encountered in France.  This sword was approximately 30 inches long and 2 inches wide.  This may have not been an official Roman Empire sword mainly because only one has been found and there is no evidence to back up this asssumption.  This type of sword was called the gladius Hispaniensis. (see above)

    The first type of evolution of the Roman sword was called the "Pompeii" type.  This sword was about 16 inches by 2 inches, was double edged, and had a sharp point at the end.  These swords were made a little before 79 AD.  The Pompeii sword was probably one of the most famous swords because they are carved onto most of the famous structures from the Roman Empire.

    A different type of sword from around the same time as the Pompeii sword was the spatha.  The spatha was a calvary sword of that time and only consisted of a single edged sword.  The dimensions of the spatha were about 27 inches.  This calvary sword was also one of the few swords that were also made in steel.  Most swords were made out of iron because when reheated and cooled, the iron makes strips of steel within the blade.  The longest spatha found in Denmark reaching 40 inches.
    Minor changes were brounght to the swords after the introduction of the Pompeii and the spatha.  The “classic Roman sword” ended having the blade between 25 and 30 inches long, the guard was very narrow, and the hilt was topped with a rounded ball. (see right)  The classical Roman sword also became double sided.

Evolution of ArtilleryArtillery

    Artillery first started with bows called non-torsion bows.  These are bows that do not use the tension of animal tendons and/or animal hair.  Non-tension intruments use the tension of wood.  One of the first non-tension weapons was called the gastraphetes.  The gastraphetes looked like a bow and was so big that in order to pull back the bow, you had to support it against your body.  The string would be brought back in successive hitches until it could be released. (see right)  When the advancements of these weapons caused them to become bigger, pulley methods were necessary to pull the  arms back.  The bows eventually had to be stuck into the ground because the bow could not be pulled back individually.

    Torsion weapons started at around this time also.  The torsion weapons were like crude bows used today.  They were put together specifically to make sure the arm had a lot of mobility and that the tension from the hair or tendons of an animal caused the arrow or bolt to travel a greater distance.  The advancements of these weapons over time became slight.  One of the most important advancements was the use of a recurved bow instead of an arch.  This new arrangement caused greater power in the bow.  One of the most famous bows was called the onager.  The onager was one of those machines in which boulders are hurled from.  They only have one arm in which it is pulled down by a spring.  This weapon was the largest weapon used in the Roman Empire.  Clearly the artillery of the Roman Empire was advanced and unique compared to its enemies and allies.

Other Military Advancements

    Other military advancements were the Romans adapted form of the phalanx.  Instead of tightly woven phalanx, they gave the group more room allowing more maneuverability on the battlefield.  The Romans also invented a formation called the testudo.  The soldiers would put their shields infront of them or on top of them forming almost an impenatrable box.  This formation was helpful when they were under increased fire.  Besides their gladius, soldiers wore caliga (leather shoes), a bronze helmet with cheek plates, a coat of iron mail, two pilum (spears), a pugio (short dagger), and a scutum (a wooden shield).  These military advancements also helped the Roman Empire with their victories on the battlefield.

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