Sunday, June 28, 2009

Ancient Spanish

What is now modern day Spain was home to various warlike tribes. The Iberians are believed to be the original settlers. The Celts expanded into the northern areas, influencing the native peoples. The Lusitani lived in the hills of modern day Portugal. Roman possession of Spanish territory began with the Second Punic War, when Scipio Africanus conquered large parts of it from the Carthaginians. This land was formed into the province of Hispania Ulterior, “Further Spain,” in 197 BC (In 13 BC Augustus would divide Hispania Ulterior into the Provinces of Baetica and Lusitania). The Romans gradually enlarged their province as additional territory was conquered from neighboring Spanish tribes. The fight for this land was notoriously bloody, while the resources yielded by the land were relatively poor.

Scutari: These were the heavy infantry. The name comes from their use of the Celtic scutum. This was a long, flat, oval shield which provide protection to almost the entire body. This way was favored by the Celt-iberians, but it was not exclusive to them.

Caetrati: These were the infantry. The name comes from their use of the caetra. This was a 39-60cm diameter round buckler. It was carried with a long strap on the back when on the march. Both shields had a round metal boss on the front which protected the hand holding the shield and could be used offensively to punch the enemy. This was the favored way of the iberians, but again, the other Spanish tribes would fight this way too.

Two major types of spear were used. The first kind was made of a typical pole of wood with a metal tip. the second type was more unique to the spanish tribes. The soliferrum, as it was called by the Romans, was entirely made of iron with a barbed head. The great weight of the spear gave the warrior the ability to punch right through shield and armor.

The spanish were renown for their fine swords. Straight swords similar to those used by the Celts were used as well as a short sword. This short sword called gladius hispanicus by the romans was so impressive that the legions adopted it for their own use. The manufacture and use of the falcata was perfected in Spain. This sowrd had a distinctive curved blade for slashing and a hilt that curved over to protect the hand. Axes were not much favored.

Spain has long been renown for its horses. Their cavalry was as well respected as the Numidians. Cavalrymen generally carried the same equipment and weapons as the infantry.

The Balearic Islands off the coast of the spanish mainland had a great reputation for producing some of the finest slingers in teh known world. A sling was one of a child’s first toys. He practised throughout his life until he became an absolute espert marksman. Slingers ferom these islands were incorporated into armies throught ancient times. They fought with Macedonians, the Carthagenians, and the Romans. Each slinger carried 3 different slings of different lengths. the longer the sling, the greater the attack distance. They used lead or ceramic pellets for the short and medium distances. Rocks from the battle field were used for long distance. It is interesting to note that the unused slings were often tied on the slinger’s head to hold back his long hair. Hairnets were also popular.

Various types of armmor were used: Fabric, thick woven panels of grass, hardened leather, metal plate, scale and mail. The plates were sometimes decorated in relief with animal designs, grometric patterns or left plain. There is evidense to suggest that some wore corselets of mixed mail and scale. The scale covered the upper torso and the more flexible mail covered the lower. Metal grieves were also worn.

1. Wilcox, Peter. Rome's Enemies (4) : Spanish Armies 218-19 BC. Osprey Publishing, 1993.

1 comment:

  1. There are similarities of the Liberian and Roman warfare. I think both cultures absorbed from one another as the Romans spent a considerable time trying to conquer the Liberian peninsula. gerber knives