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As I understand it, early through to mid Roman Armies use the javelin style Pilum. I've read that the late Roman army used Lead Darts, or Plumbata, in the same or a very similar fashion.

Was the Plumbata superior to the Pilum in design? Why were Pila phased out in favour of Plumbata?

  • Pilums could be thrown, but they were not javelins and their normal use was melee battle. Heavy javelins was used by late Greeks to make enemies to drop the shield... – Gangnus Jan 26 '17 at 13:17
  • I recognize they weren't used as javelins, I mean't more that they were more javelin shaped, or took the appearance of Javelins. Sorry for any confusion. – Mynott95 Jan 26 '17 at 13:44
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    Greek javelins (sorry, don't know others) were made of iron, for the victim to cannot cut it off from the shield and to be heavy to make him drop the shield. The pilums had long iron parts to make it impossible to cut off the tip. And they were heavy, so, they could be used as javelins. But they were much more than that. They had not only sharp tip, but sharp blades about a meter long. Anyway, pilum was the main weapon of a legionnair and never was replaced or could be replaced by plumbata. Historically, pilum was the second attempt to make a better spear. (after Macedonian Sarissa) – Gangnus Jan 26 '17 at 13:54
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    roman soldiers could carry more plumbata than pila on them when they went to battle. Some youtube reenactors say they are also more accurate than pila. the disadvantage is it takes a lot of practice to get good with it where as most people can throw a pila without much training. from my interpretation of the readings, in the late empire some roman legions used pila and others used plumbata it all sort of depended. – ed.hank Nov 5 '17 at 16:00

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