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 Roman archers

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normanhurst
Triumviratus Rei Publicae Constituendae


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PostSubject: Roman archers   Mon 21 Oct 2013, 05:41

I’ve never seen the romans represented in book or film using bow and arrow… its always the short sword or spear and the shield, am I not reading the right books, or did they just not use them.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Roman archers   Mon 21 Oct 2013, 09:53

They used them frequently but almost always as auxiliaries hired in for the occasion. During republican times Crete was the preferred source but afterwards Syrians came to the fore. On Trajan's column celebrating his Dacian campaign three distinct types of archer are depicted showing the diversity of auxiliary archers available by the 2nd century.

I imagine they don't get as big a write-up now because they didn't then, what with them being "outsiders" and all. But you're right. It's strange they don't figure more in modern depictions as they must have played an important role over the centuries in various campaigns.
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: Roman archers   Mon 21 Oct 2013, 10:38

There was a grave discovered at Bingerbruck on the old Roman Rhine frontier, dating from the first half of the first century which reads;

"Tiberius Iulius Abdes Pentera from Sidon, aged 62 years
served 40 years, former standard bearer of the first cohort
of archers lies here"
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Roman archers   Mon 21 Oct 2013, 12:36



This, according to Caerleon.net, is a "Hamian archer from Syria (without his chainmail). His bow was deadly over a range of 400 metres."

A fun website actually.

Caerleon.net - The Legion
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Roman archers   Mon 21 Oct 2013, 22:01

Half, at least, of a Consular or early Empire army were auxiliaries, replacing the earlier socii or allies (Latin rather than Roman citizens of other Italian states), and archers, Spanish or Gaulish swordsmen, Balearic slingers etc. featured prominently.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Roman archers   Mon 04 Nov 2013, 12:42

Norman, this might interest you.

It was found during building excavations in Colchester and is a fine example of a Roman archer's thumb-ring. The extended piece is designed to sit on the inside of the thumb and reduces chaffing from the bowstring when it is pulled taut.



An example of its usage here:





If you go on e-Bay there are several of these for sale, though whether they're genuine or not is anyone's guess. However their spread over the whole of Roman occupied Europe is a fair indication of how widespread archery divisions were deployed and, one assumes, used.

Incidentally I have read also that it wasn't until the 6th century that Romans (by then largely the Eastern Roman Empire) worked out that one could get more accurate an aim by pulling the bowstring and arrow back to a point before one's face. For pragmatic and ingenious engineers as the Romans were, this seems an amazingly long time to figure out something so basic.
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Anglo-Norman
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PostSubject: Re: Roman archers   Tue 17 Dec 2013, 10:39

In terms of film, the opening battle in Gladiator used large numbers of archers.
The 'Roman' bow (actually probably Eastern in design) seems to have been a composite one, using a mixture of wood, horn and sinew.
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