Roman Weapons and Siege Weapons

  By: AJ Costa

Romans used many different types of weapons. The weapons they used depended on the situation. Today I will show different types of Roman weapons and how they were used.

For a basic roman soldier, weapons such as the ones listed below were used.


The gladius is a personal weapons carried by almost every Roman infantry-man. It was the iconic short sword of the Roman army, used for slashing and stabbing.

The Aquilifer Limited Edition Roman Gladius via Flickr


Another weapon used by the infantry-man was the pilum. The pilum was a heavy javelin, it consists of a long thin neck and a heavy head. They were about two feet long and designed to penetrate armor and shields. This was a way for the men to have a short artillery.       

Legionary soldier throwing a pilum - photo copyright Roy Edwards


One of the many side-arms Romans had was the pugio, the pugio was the primary sidearm of a Roman soldier. It was a hip held dagger that could be used as a utility knife or for decoration. This dagger was know for assassination and suicide. It is recorded that the conspirators who killed Julius Caesar used pugiones.

Photo cred:

In order to make their great empire, the Romans had to conquer many civilizations. They did this with their large armies, tactics, and advanced technology in their siege machines.


A machine that helped the Romans conquer, was the ballista. The ballista was basically a big stationary crossbow. But, instead it could shoot large objects and projectiles instead of just shooting arrows.

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The battering ram was a siege weapon meant for breaking down walls and splintering wooden gates. A simple battering ram, consists of a heavy log held up within a frame. It was necessary for several people to man it so that they could push it to the gates/walls, and so that enough momentum could be generated to break down walls and gates.

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Another key to the Roman's success, was the siege tower. The siege tower was a specialized siege engine built to protect the incoming soldiers and ladders from the fortification's defenders. It was usually rectangular, and had four wheels to roll up to the building. It was built to be very tall so that archers could shoot down upon defenders. Siege towers were sometimes covered with iron coverings and animal furs since they were mainly made of wood and flammable.

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