La Tene Javelins

Armor, weapons, spears, slings....

La Tene Javelins

Postby T Franks on August 21st, 2010, 11:35 am

Would a javelin ever be butted on the other end, like a spear?
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Re: La Tene Javelins

Postby Jeff Scharp on August 22nd, 2010, 10:37 pm

Hey Todd,

If you're referring to a smallish thrown spear, then no because it cannot be thrown effectively with a butted end. Javelin is a term used by reenactors to differentiate between a longer fighting (slashing/stabbing) spear and a smaller thrown spear. An artifact that we would call a javelin (a little spear head under 2' wide) is mostly referred to as a "spear" in archaeological reports without making any assumptions to it's purpose based on the head's size/mass. Since the shaft almost always long gone, the length can't even give a hint. It might be that some puny spear heads were once mounted on some stout poles!
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Re: La Tene Javelins

Postby Craig Bellofatto on September 21st, 2010, 5:26 pm

I have often wondered about this as maybe a counter weight for stabilization. I have talked to a local machinist about it and he said that depending on the length of the shaft you may need one.He makes his own competition arrows and used to work in the flight industry building parts for planes.I tend to believe him. *wink* Modern "Olympic" javelins are very complicated and require severe mathematical research and building techniques. I tend to go with the simple answer though. No counterweights were found in a La Tene context right? So that means the shaft was long enough to stabilize the flight. I have done some trial and error stuff and a long handle (4-6 feet) works well depending on the weight of the head.
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Re: La Tene Javelins

Postby Garrett Edgar Quast on January 29th, 2011, 5:32 am

To the Gauls it was called a Gaesem, or throwing spear. I hope I spelled that right.
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Re: La Tene Javelins

Postby Dru Durman on January 29th, 2011, 12:33 pm

I've had Dave Budd make up some small spearheads for me based on archaeological examples, with 12mm internal diameter on the socket. Mounted on a thin, light willow shaft (though we'll probably use hazel for the final pieces due to availability in local woods) I got a comfortable 20 yard range. Including the head the javelins were about 5 foot, and tapering from the socket to the tail (using shoots in the round as opposed to parallel cleft shafts). When the wood is seasoned (less whippy) and straightened, and once I've practiced the throw, it shouldn't be too hard to get up to the 30 yards that most textbooks I've read seem to consider javelin range for Roman velites.

Once Dave's finished all the weapons he's making (3 sharp javelins, one combat safe spear, one sharp version of the same and one war knife) I'll post up pictures. Can't wait myself. Metalwork should be done this week, then a couple of months for the shafts to season...
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Re: La Tene Javelins

Postby M_McClure on January 29th, 2011, 5:33 pm

Garrett Edgar Quast wrote:To the Gauls it was called a Gaesem, or throwing spear. I hope I spelled that right.



You're spot on. In Gaulish it would be spelled gaison. Another word for the javelin is gabalakkos, the gai- and gabal- being the prefixes for these type weapons, although gai- also could refer to a spear, too, such as the gaisatoi or gaisateis (gaesatae)
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