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Bippy the Beardless
07-20-2005, 03:10 PM
Reading some accounts of Troy, much is made of peoples prowess with thrown spears or javelins. Yet the books (by Homer and Virgil) also mention users of bows and arrows. Was the javelin more effective than bow and arrow in those days? Surely a bow is faster more accurate and has further range? The only advantage of the javelin seems to be in its ability to encomber a shield if it sticks into one, but that hardly seems to mittigate the encomberance of having to carry them into battle to be able to use them.

awldune
07-20-2005, 04:01 PM
An advantage a javelin has over a bow is that you can use it one-handed. Which is nice if you also have a huge shield.

Given the greater weight, it should also be more able to penetrate shields and armor than an arrow.

Kinthalis
07-20-2005, 05:18 PM
There usually is never a "super weapon" on the battlefield, instead each weapon and unit fills a certain tactical niche in the whole system.

Historically Javelins were used to soften up infantry as they advanced. Sometimes they were thrown by light squirmish units in an attempt to break the enemy formation and confuse them, most other times they were used by infantry as an opposing infantry unit came within range. Disabling the oposing unit's shields and softening up their line, must have been a very useful tactic.

The bow would have just filled another tactical niche in combat.

Can Handle the Truth
07-20-2005, 05:55 PM
In ancient times, there were three major types of soldier: infantry, cavalry, and artillery; and each type came in three sub-types: light, medium, and heavy. The javelin was the major weapon of the "medium" subtypes, i.e. medium infantry, medium cavalry and medium artillery (javelin-throwing machines). The bow was the primary weapon of the "light" subtypes, i.e. light infantry = skirmishing archers, light cavalry = horse archers, light artillery = massed archers. Of course there are always exceptions to the rules; many light troops also used javelins, and the Roman heavy infantry had two each in addition to their swords.

That the javelin was an important weapon is shown by the effort that the Romans put into designing their javelin, the pilum. It was continuously tinkered with and "engineered" over hundreds of years. You don't spend that kind of attention on something that's not a major weapons system.

Bippy the Beardless
07-20-2005, 06:03 PM
So at ranges for which the Javelin was effective, the Javelin + Large Shield combination was more effective than the unshielded archer. Were bronze age bows much less accurate than medievil bows?
Was the Javelin ever a unit's main weapon? or was the Javelin just a way to give a medium infantry some ranged capabilities before turning to sword or spear?

XT
07-20-2005, 06:22 PM
So at ranges for which the Javelin was effective, the Javelin + Large Shield combination was more effective than the unshielded archer. Were bronze age bows much less accurate than medievil bows?

Probably going to get this wrong, but I don't think the same tactics were used in Medievil warfare as in ancient warfare (well, in the later period and in Europe I assume you mean...I think javelins or at least thrown spears were used fairly extensively in early medievil Europe), so the reliance on skirmishers wasn't as heavy. You use skirmishers to attack and break up enemy formations. If the enemy isn't really IN proper formations then you don't need them as much. In addition and IIRC Medievil warfare (at least in Europe) relied more heavily on calvary than on foot, and calvary is ever the dread of the skirmisher...while calvary IS vulnerable to heavy formation type infantry. Its sort of a rock/paper/scissor type thing. In addition I think the advent of the crossbow probably factored in as a possible replacement for javelin throwing light skirmishers.

-XT

Can Handle the Truth
07-20-2005, 06:36 PM
Javelins were engineered to maximize their kinetic energy, while arrows were engineered to maximize their range.

Most medium infantry used the javelin as their primary weapon. They did not have to engage heavy infantry hand-to-hand because they could always give ground while continuing to throw their javelins. They would try to lure the heavies into difficult terrain (marsh, swamp, woods, steep hill, etc.) where their tight formations would break up and small groups of heavies would become isolated and ripe for picking off (Heavy infantry rely on tight formations for survival; if they are broken up, they're dead meat). When mediums did choose to engage hand-to-hand, they usually had a sword, axe, or spear as a personal defense weapon. Medium infantry would not charge unbroken heavy infantry on open ground.

Bronze age european bows were not as powerful as a medieval longbow; hence europeans often used javelins or darts instead of bows. Composite bows from the Middle East and Asia, appearing around 2300 BC, would be equivalent to a longbow.

figenschoug
07-20-2005, 06:43 PM
In addition and IIRC Medievil warfare (at least in Europe) relied more heavily on calvary than on foot

Resist, resist, resist....naah!

However, early Medievil warfare relied most heavily on using your left arm as a boomerang. :D

Sorry.

Bippy the Beardless
07-20-2005, 06:51 PM
A related point, were the Greek Javelin/Thowing Spears of arround 500 BCE effective in use as hand to hand spears, or were they specialised just for throwing?

It seems to me that weaponry didn't change greatly from 1000BCE to 1000CE, with the exception of the dissapearence of the throwing spear. Armour and durability obvoiusly improved mobing from bronze to iron to steel, and military order and field manouvers improved. So the fall of importance of the thrown spear seems strange.

Also I am not aware of the thrown spear ever being important in Japanese or Chinese armies in the same time frame whilst bow, sword, hand-to-hand spears and pole arms are similar between the far Eastern and European cultures.

Peter Morris
07-20-2005, 06:55 PM
Roman javelins were designed to stick in the enemy's shield and make it unwieldly to handle, so it would be discarded.

Can Handle the Truth
07-20-2005, 07:12 PM
A related point, were the Greek Javelin/Thowing Spears of arround 500 BCE effective in use as hand to hand spears, or were they specialised just for throwing? By that time the hoplite system was in place; they used thrusting spears 8 or 9 feet long, which were not usually thrown. However, each hoplite might have one or two slaves who supported him in battle, and these slaves would fight with javens, bows or slings.

It seems to me that weaponry didn't change greatly from 1000BCE to 1000CE Actually, you could expand that to 3000 BC - 1500 AD. A Sumerian army of 3000 BC used long pikes just like Alexander's army or medieval Swiss. An Assyrian heavy chariot of 700 BC had the same impact as a medieval knight.

Captain Amazing
07-20-2005, 07:14 PM
It seems to me that weaponry didn't change greatly from 1000BCE to 1000CE, with the exception of the dissapearence of the throwing spear. Armour and durability obvoiusly improved mobing from bronze to iron to steel, and military order and field manouvers improved. So the fall of importance of the thrown spear seems strange.


First of all, weaponry changed a lot from 1000 BCE to 1000 CE. There are a whole bunch of changes I'm not going to go into, but most notably, you had the stirrup, which made mounted cavalry, especially the cavalry charge, practical.

Bippy the Beardless
07-20-2005, 07:29 PM
First of all, weaponry changed a lot from 1000 BCE to 1000 CE. There are a whole bunch of changes I'm not going to go into, but most notably, you had the stirrup, which made mounted cavalry, especially the cavalry charge, practical.

The stirrup is a good point ( ;) ), the ancient Greeks cavalry seemed to have fought more from the chariot than from the saddle. Is it really impossible to control a horse charge just with a harness and bit? I can see a stirrrup would make riding and control easier so making horses and riders quicker to train into an effective unit. Or does the stirrup allow a rider to remain seated on a horse in combat rather than getting knocked off with the first blow? So the stirrup may well have removed the need for chariots?

Can Handle the Truth
07-20-2005, 07:41 PM
Notably, you had the stirrup, which made mounted cavalry, especially the cavalry charge, practical. That's a myth. Armored cavalry charging with lances were used by the Lydians before 500 BC, and by Alexander and subsequent hellenistic armies; by Parthians, Sarmations, Sassanid Persians, Late Romans, Alans, and Ostrogoths to name a few. They did not have a problem with being de-horsed at impact. Here (http://classicalfencing.com/mounted.shtml) is a site that debunks the stirrup myth.

Can Handle the Truth
07-20-2005, 10:03 PM
the ancient Greeks cavalry seemed to have fought more from the chariot than from the saddle. Is it really impossible to control a horse charge just with a harness and bit? I can see a stirrrup would make riding and control easier so making horses and riders quicker to train into an effective unit. Or does the stirrup allow a rider to remain seated on a horse in combat rather than getting knocked off with the first blow? So the stirrup may well have removed the need for chariots? The "chariot age" was from about 2800 BC (when the Sumerians first harnessed a fighting platform to four wild asses - the horse had not yet been domesticated) to about 700 BC (when the art of riding horses into battle was perfected by the Assyrians, thus making the chariot obsolete.) The Greeks of the Illiad lived in the chariot age. Shortly after the Trojan War, that whole bronze age civilization collapsed (1200 BC) and Greece entered a dark age that would last until about 700 BC. Little is known about greek warfare in this period. The Hoplite, or heavy armored infantryman armed with a thusting spear, became the norm in Greece from about 600 BC, and cavalry was generally nonexistant except in Thessaly and Thrace. The Athenians and others revived the use of cavalry, as well as medium infantry, around 400 BC, after the Persian wars brought them into contact with a wider range of adversaries.

To fight on horseback requires two hands, thus the horse has to be controlled by voice and by pressure from the rider's legs. It took a long time to perfect. In fact, when the Assyrians first experimented with riding, they used a two-horse team where one rider fought and the other rider held the reigns of both horses. Cumbersome, to say the least! But still faster and more maneuverable than a chariot. Chariots disappeared from most battlefields after 600 BC.

DrDeth
07-21-2005, 03:42 AM
The Crossbow and (to a lesser extent) the Longbow- both new techologies- made the javelin a thing of that past- once you get firmly into the medieval period.

The earlier style bows were pretty lousy, and they also took lots of training. The jalelin was better in some circumstances, and didn't take much training.

The Crossbow also didn't require much training, but was hugely better than the javelin. (The Longbow required enormous amounts of training, but was likely the best weapon until the flintlock). So basicly- the CB replaced the javelin- around 1100 or so*. The CB was replaced by the matchlock, etc.

Yes, the Greeks had a primitive sort of CB. It didn't work well.

* but do note that means the javelin was a respected weapon for several thousand years, if not more. The CB only lasted for 500 years or so.

Hypno-Toad
07-21-2005, 08:43 AM
I'm just going to speak about the Roman use of javelins. For the legions, the javelin wasn't a great weapon unto itself. Rather, it was a way of augmenting existing heavy infantry. A legionaire was given one light and one heavy javelin, or Pilum. as the unit advanced, the troops would all throw their light pilum first, then the heavy one as the range decreased. As mentioned, this softened up the enemy and weighed their shields down, making them easier prey for the sword and shield-bearing legionaires. Therefore, the pilum was used because it fit so well into existing tactics. It was one-handed, so it didn't encumber the legionaire or require him to fumble or switch around weaponry as he advanced. It was best used on the move, so it actually became more effective as the cohorts advanced. Also, it gave the hand-to-hand guys a limited ranged attack. And it was a simpler weapon to make than a bow. I imagine that many pilum were repaired and recycled after battle.

So in many ways, the pilum was a way of giving roman troops a "Combined arms" capability.

Shalmanese
07-21-2005, 09:20 AM
Most medium infantry used the javelin as their primary weapon. They did not have to engage heavy infantry hand-to-hand because they could always give ground while continuing to throw their javelins.

How many javelins can the average soldier hold? It was mentioned that a roman soldier typically had 2 javelins and I asumme more than about 5 would become unwieldy. OTOH, an archer could easily hold maybe 30 or 40 arrows.

How easy are they to make? Once you've thrown a javelin, you can't get it back. And unless you've designed it to break on impact, the other side can throw them back at you.

I don't really see how effective they could have been. I'm sure they were but theres something I seem to be missing about them.

Bippy the Beardless
07-21-2005, 09:45 AM
How many javelins can the average soldier hold? It was mentioned that a roman soldier typically had 2 javelins and I asumme more than about 5 would become unwieldy. OTOH, an archer could easily hold maybe 30 or 40 arrows.

How easy are they to make? Once you've thrown a javelin, you can't get it back. And unless you've designed it to break on impact, the other side can throw them back at you.

I don't really see how effective they could have been. I'm sure they were but theres something I seem to be missing about them.

Precisely my thoughts when making this OP, only you said it better. Thanks.

Hypno-Toad
07-21-2005, 10:25 AM
The roman Pilum were designed with a long iron head held on with a weak wooden peg. The peg broke, rendering the pilum useless for return fire. The whole point of the javelin from the Roman point of view is that it wasn't the main weapon. It was an additional secondary weapon with a specific tactical use: to allow an infantryman to take down a few enemy at range while advancing. The Romans didn't expect it to win the battle, just to provide "Fire support."

gytalf2000
07-21-2005, 10:30 AM
I do not have an exact cite for this information, but I do remember reading that the pilum was designed to bend on impact, thus rendering it useless to the enemy.

js_africanus
07-21-2005, 11:44 AM
They did not have a problem with being de-horsed at impact. Here (http://classicalfencing.com/mounted.shtml) is a site that debunks the stirrup myth.
Which would be moot if they were de-horsed immediately after:
The stirrups are extremely useful for lateral support, and "standing" in the hand to hand fighting of a melee likely to follow a charge. It is especially difficult to pull a man off a horse if he has his feet firmly planted in the stirrups. Stirrups then allow the horseman to exploit the success of the charge

The roman Pilum were designed with a long iron head held on with a weak wooden peg. The peg broke, rendering the pilum useless for return fire.
I'll disagree with your description as I'm picturing it, but I'll agree with the basic idea. Although slow loading, this photo (198.144.2.125/Roman/Full/PilumShaft.jpg) of a pilium is good. If you're talking about the wooden base at the end of the iron shaft, then we are in agreement. Although, IIRC, the iron shaft itself was designed to bend as well.

The whole point of the javelin from the Roman point of view is that it wasn't the main weapon. It was an additional secondary weapon with a specific tactical use: to allow an infantryman to take down a few enemy at range while advancing.
Well, break up the enemy formation. If you can get enough enemy files stumbling over the guy in front, you disorder their battle the opposing battle line and you have a distinct advantage as a result. I imagine that one of the great strengths of the pilia (sp?) was that they were used at such short range, when they did disrupt the enemy line there was very little time to re-organize.

DrDeth
07-21-2005, 01:28 PM
How many javelins can the average soldier hold?

How easy are they to make? Once you've thrown a javelin, you can't get it back. And unless you've designed it to break on impact, the other side can throw them back at you.

I don't really see how effective they could have been. I'm sure they were but theres something I seem to be missing about them.

The Romans had three types of javelins- Pilum, Darts and Javlins. The darts were about on the order of "Lawn Darts" and were used later, during the Empire. They could carry about 6 of them, two regular and one pilum. The nice thing about a javelin type wepon is that it is thrown one handed, allowing you the protection of a shield. Until the late medieval period, the shield was critical.

As others have pointed out- the Pilum was specially designed so that it generally could be thrown back. However, not all enemy could or would throw them back anyway. Cavalry isn't likely to dismount to pick them up, and pikemen or Hoplites couldn't very well drop their heavy spears to pick up a javelin to toos back.

The advantages of the javelin is that it was cheap, easy to make and easy to train for. The franks used throwing axes, and the vikings used spears- with about the same reasons and effects. What else can you use - in one hand, and with limited training- to give your main infantry a bit of longer range firepower?

Can Handle the Truth
07-21-2005, 01:37 PM
How many javelins can the average soldier hold? It was mentioned that a roman soldier typically had 2 javelins and I asumme more than about 5 would become unwieldy. OTOH, an archer could easily hold maybe 30 or 40 arrows.

How easy are they to make? Once you've thrown a javelin, you can't get it back. And unless you've designed it to break on impact, the other side can throw them back at you.

I don't really see how effective they could have been. I'm sure they were but theres something I seem to be missing about them. You don't need to carry a whole bunch of javelins; you carry two or three, throw them, then run to the rear to get more. There's a constant circulation of men, that's how medium infantry fights. Armies that used a lot of javelins made them simple and cheap, cheaper than an arrow. It's not the size of the weapon that makes it expensive, but the amount of labor that goes into it. Arrows are labor-intensive because they have to be made really straight and the guide feathers have to be precise. Try making yourself a paper airplane that flies perfectly straight! The people who assembled the feathers even became a special class of craftsmen called "fletchers".

Bippy the Beardless
07-21-2005, 01:45 PM
You don't need to carry a whole bunch of javelins; you carry two or three, throw them, then run to the rear to get more. There's a constant circulation of men, that's how medium infantry fights. Armies that used a lot of javelins made them simple and cheap, cheaper than an arrow. It's not the size of the weapon that makes it expensive, but the amount of labor that goes into it. Arrows are labor-intensive because they have to be made really straight and the guide feathers have to be precise. Try making yourself a paper airplane that flies perfectly straight! The people who assembled the feathers even became a special class of craftsmen called "fletchers".
Sounds reasonable, but do we have a cite for this info. The Roman Javelin shown in the picture link above looks quite somplicatedly manufactured, and has a much larger amount of metal used than an arrow has.

Can Handle the Truth
07-21-2005, 01:50 PM
Sounds reasonable, but do we have a cite for this info. The Roman Javelin shown in the picture link above looks quite somplicatedly manufactured, and has a much larger amount of metal used than an arrow has. I'll work on getting some cites. The Roman pilum was not a typical javelin. No other javelins were as sophisticated as that. Most were just a simple wood shaft with an iron head.

Can Handle the Truth
07-21-2005, 02:35 PM
Here are some good pictures of typical javelins:

Republican Romans (http://img336.imageshack.us/img336/5919/jav013lg.jpg) with both pila and simple javelins. Note the number carried by the velite on the right.

Persian Cavalry (http://img336.imageshack.us/img336/2461/jav029ze.jpg)

Samnites (http://img336.imageshack.us/img336/7973/jav030ss.jpg) fought three wars with Rome and inflicted one of Rome's most humiliating defeats at the Caudine Forks.

Spanish warrior (http://img318.imageshack.us/img318/5852/jav045qm.jpg) in the army of Hannibal carries one heavy and one light javelin.

Thracian Peltasts (http://img315.imageshack.us/img315/6438/jav056fj.jpg) were recruited by the greeks and macedonians as medium and light infantry. This guy is light.

Hope this helps!

js_africanus
07-21-2005, 02:48 PM
I'll work on getting some cites. The Roman pilum was not a typical javelin. No other javelins were as sophisticated as that. Most were just a simple wood shaft with an iron head.
Right. I hope I didn't give the impression that weapon was typical; the pilum is note worthy because it is so exceptional. For a more prosaic example of javelin use, I think this Wiki article on the velites (en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Velites) is instructive. Most my ancient warfare reading is about Greece & Rome, so that's where I have to draw my examples from.

The velites were lightly armored and carried javelins (& sometimes bows). They were used for screening: before the battle when the armies were setting up, the youngest, fastest, and most fit were sent out to get within throwing distance of the enemy lines and pelt them with javelins (and arrows). My description is questionable, of course, and the book The Military Instutions of the Romans (pvv.ntnu.no/~madsb/home/war/vegetius/) Vegetius Renatus is a good primary source. This ancient book describes the function of the light Roman troops:
The following disposition deserves the greatest attention. In the beginning of an engagement, the first and second lines remained immovable on their ground, and the trairii in their usual positions. The light-armed troops, composed as above mentioned, advanced in the front of the line, and attacked the enemy. If they could make them give way, they pursued them; but if they were repulsed by superior bravery or numbers, they retired behind their own heavy armed infantry, which appeared like a wall of iron and renewed the action, at first with their missile weapons, then sword in hand. If they broke the enemy they never pursued them, least they should break their ranks or throw the line into confusion, and lest the enemy, taking advantage of their disorder, should return to the attack and destroy them without difficulty. The pursuit therefore was entirely left to the light-armed troops and the cavalry. By these precautions and dispositions the legion was victorious without danger, or if the contrary happened, was preserved without any considerable loss, for as it is not calculated for pursuit, it is likewise not easily thrown into disorder.

And
Their offensive weapons were large swords, called spathae, and smaller ones called semispathae together with five loaded javelins in the concavity of the shield, which they threw at the first charge. They had likewise two other javelins, the largest of which was composed of a staff five feet and a half long and a triangular head of iron nine inches long. This was formerly called the pilum, but now it is known by the name of spiculum. The soldiers were particularly exercised in the use of this weapon, because when thrown with force and skill it often penetrated the shields of the foot and the cuirasses of the horse. The other javelin was of smaller size; its triangular point was only five inches long and the staff three feet and one half. It was anciently called verriculum but now verutum.

smiling bandit
07-21-2005, 02:57 PM
The Roman Javelin shown in the picture link above looks quite somplicatedly manufactured, and has a much larger amount of metal used than an arrow has.

You win the battle and get your spears back, fix them, and use them in the next battle. That was doable but harder than with arrows.

Hypno-Toad
07-21-2005, 03:17 PM
I'll disagree with your description as I'm picturing it, but I'll agree with the basic idea. Although slow loading, this photo (198.144.2.125/Roman/Full/PilumShaft.jpg) of a pilium is good. If you're talking about the wooden base at the end of the iron shaft, then we are in agreement. Although, IIRC, the iron shaft itself was designed to bend as well.

Looking at that picture, I see that there are three nails securing the tang of the head in the triangular wooden head. In the original roman design, it was two wooden pegs. These were weak enough to break on impact, rendering the weapon unusable.

js_africanus
07-21-2005, 03:35 PM
Looking at that picture, I see that there are three nails securing the tang of the head in the triangular wooden head. In the original roman design, it was two wooden pegs. These were weak enough to break on impact, rendering the weapon unusable.
I'm sure that over the lifetime of the republic & empire, the design had quite a few variations. But I think we're on the same page w/ the basic idea.

PoorYorick
07-21-2005, 06:00 PM
On a side note, I have some little experience using an atalatl. This is a short javelin or spear that's thrown with a spear thrower (to give the throw more leverage). I did a bit of experimental archaeology at the museum I worked at with it. With a little practice, you could get that sucker into the target (a hay bail, in this case) with impressive authority, especially if you weren't more than 20 yards away or so.

I don't know if the atalatl was ever used in warfare or not, but I can imagine how intimidating it must have been to have a cloud of javelins heading your direction, thrown from just yards away.

Can Handle the Truth
07-21-2005, 06:37 PM
I don't know if the atalatl was ever used in warfare or not, but I can imagine how intimidating it must have been to have a cloud of javelins heading your direction, thrown from just yards away. Many javelins had a "throwing loop" attached which added momentum like a spear thrower, but also giving a spin to the weapon. I wish I could scan the "javelin-throwing sequence" featured on page 51 of John Warry's Warfare in the Classical World (http://amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/detail/-/0806127945/qid=1121988765/sr=8-1/ref=pd_bbs_sbs_1/002-7244833-5115261?v=glance&s=books&n=507846) which shows how the throwing loop was used. I highly recommend this book.

Can Handle the Truth
07-21-2005, 07:22 PM
Here (http://img330.imageshack.us/img330/8463/javelin4em.jpg) I drew a picture of a javelin with a throwing loop. The longer the cord was, the more momentum it gave. You can see how it was wrapped around the shaft to make it spin.

Bippy the Beardless
07-25-2005, 10:36 AM
Has anyone done studies on the effective weapon range of Greek and Roman javelin? It would seem to me that a fairly low trajectory would be helpful in ensuring a hit against a group of men in several rows. Would the speed of a Javelin be slow enough to allow any chance of dodging a single throw? Would multiple javelins thrown at about the same time be needed to hit a particular target that was dodging?

clairobscur
07-25-2005, 02:23 PM
Has anyone done studies on the effective weapon range of Greek and Roman javelin?


Yes, at least for the greek ones and they apparently had a hard time figuring out out they should be thrown and in particular how to use the loop to the best effect. Copies made to the best of the archeologists's knowledge were even made and tested by athletes in order to figure this out.

This answer probably isn't very helpful since I don't remember any of the conclusions, nor their range.

Lemur866
07-25-2005, 05:37 PM
Has anyone done studies on the effective weapon range of Greek and Roman javelin? It would seem to me that a fairly low trajectory would be helpful in ensuring a hit against a group of men in several rows. Would the speed of a Javelin be slow enough to allow any chance of dodging a single throw? Would multiple javelins thrown at about the same time be needed to hit a particular target that was dodging?

But the problem with dodging is that you'd have to break formation to dodge. Break formation and you'll be cut to pieces by the charge that follows the javelin volley. Either way would be fine with the javelin throwers. Remember that the javelin wasn't imagined as a way to slaughter enemy troops but as a way to disorganize them so they were vulnerable to your shock troops. And in ancient warfare most of the casualties take place after the battle is "over" when victorious troops slaughter routed troops. So one of the main objectives isn't so much to kill the enemy as to convince him to run away, so you can kill him when he runs away.

Bippy the Beardless
07-25-2005, 06:43 PM
But the problem with dodging is that you'd have to break formation to dodge. Break formation and you'll be cut to pieces by the charge that follows the javelin volley. Either way would be fine with the javelin throwers. Remember that the javelin wasn't imagined as a way to slaughter enemy troops but as a way to disorganize them so they were vulnerable to your shock troops. And in ancient warfare most of the casualties take place after the battle is "over" when victorious troops slaughter routed troops. So one of the main objectives isn't so much to kill the enemy as to convince him to run away, so you can kill him when he runs away.
I think you are right on the realistic use of Javelin, I was just putting too much value in the discription in the Illiad where Javelin are thrown by one hero against another in essencially single combat. It would seem to me that for single combat it would be relatively easy to angle a great Greek shield in such a way that any javelin throw would be deflected at an accute angle by the shield. Secondly the Javelin seems an excellent weapon to use against a fleeing opponent, as it can be thrown whilst on the run, and wouldn't be deflected by a fleeing opponents shield.

Muffin
07-25-2005, 08:49 PM
Would the speed of a Javelin be slow enough to allow any chance of dodging a single throw?I saw a fellow get speared by a javelin (he and a buddy were practising in a field, taking turns throwing). Took out one of his nuts. They had no difficulty dodging each other's throws, as long as they were paying attention. Unfortunately, the fellow was not looking up one time, and by the time he heard the thrower shout, it was too late to dodge.

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