How much did a Roman pila weigh?

War in antiquity: Legionnaires worn down their enemies with this long-range weapon

In Goscinny's and Uderzo's epochal work “Asterix with the British” there is the beautiful scene in which a Briton holds a group of Roman legionaries in check with a spear and the threat: “My pilum is more solid than your sternum.” But she's wrong here great encyclopedia on the ancient universe for once. Because the javelin was by no means as stable as a sternum, but the secret of the pilum was its fragility. It was precisely because of this that it was a dreaded weapon - which the Romans, rather than the Celts, had developed to perfection.

"From the club to the rocket - the history of violence" is the name of the new series that ZDFinfo presents in ten parts. Four episodes will be broadcast on Wednesday in a row, and it is not for nothing that the javelin kicks off. Because it is mankind's oldest ranged weapon. With it the prehistoric humans secured their survival and their evolution. Because the sharpened wood thrown over a long distance made it possible for the early hunters and gatherers to kill large prey. The organization of the hunt, the processing of the meat and its richness in nutrients became the engines of the development of Homo sapiens.

The level of technology people had already reached 300,000 years ago is shown by the eight javelins between 1.80 and 2.50 meters long that came to light in the Schöningen open-cast lignite mine near Helmstedt in the 1990s. These Schöninger spears have the properties of modern sports javelins and could be thrown up to 80 meters. It would be another 290,000 years before hunting aid became a weapon with which human societies went to war against one another.