Above: Front of the specimen card
Today, the Romans are remembered for their military tactics and sprawling empire, but they were not always the powerful force we know them as. Roman military tactics were built around spears, swords, and shields - which left them with a deadly weakness: the bow. They would not fully realize the power of archery on the battlefield until the end of the Republic period, when a force of Parthian archers destroyed a legion that outnumbered them almost 4 to 1. This stunning defeat caused the Romans to begin integrating archers into their own forces.
Above: Roman arrowhead specimens. Length varies from 1.5-2.5cm.
This specimen is a Roman arrowhead. These particular arrowheads are made from bronze and feature a trilobate design. The long, three-bladed heads were made to make short work of armor, puncturing deep into their targets and penetrating any protections they wore. They come from numerous sites across Europe and date to the 1st Century CE.
Above: Macro image of a Roman arrowhead specimen.
Each specimen is enclosed in an acrylic specimen jar held within a handsome, glass-topped riker box case measuring 4 1/2" x 3 1/2". A small information card is also included, which also serves as the certificate of authenticity.
Please Note: Size and condition of these specimens varies quite widely. Some have been cleaned while others still have the patina of many years on their surface. All specimens will have some form of damage. Images on this page provide examples of average specimens.
Caution: While some edges have been dulled by the centuries, you should still use caution when handling these specimens.
About Roman Arrowheads
Above: From the Reliefs of Trajan's Column in Rome, depicting the successful military campaigns in the 2nd Century CE.
"Thus it can be seen that they both acquired certain types of weapons from others – and these were already called ‘Roman’ because the Romans used them most effectively – as well as military exercises."
~ Arrian, Greek historian
Today, the Romans are remembered for their military tactics and sprawling empire, but they were not always the powerful force we know them as. Roman military tactics were built around spears, swords, and shields - which left them with a deadly weakness: the bow. They would not fully realize the power of archery on the battlefield until the end of the Republic period, in one of the worst defeats of Roman history.
In 53 BCE, Marcus Licinius Crassus, a member of the First Triumvirate of the Republic, attempted to invade Parthia for riches and glory. His army was nearly 40,000 strong and marched through Mesopotamia, aiming to capture cities in the region. Orodes II, the Parthian king, sent out a force of his own, 10,000 men led by the spahbod, Surena.
Surena’s force was made up of cavalry, most of whom were trained archers. The Parthians were able to lure Crassus’ force into the desert, near the town of Carrhae, where they made their counterattack. Though the Parthians were outnumbered almost 4 to 1, Surena was able to surround the Romans with horses and keep them at bay with the superior range of their archers.
Crassus hoped to outlast the Parthians’ supply of arrows, but Surena set up thousands of camels to keep his archers stocked. Eventually, Crassus was forced into a peace meeting by his own men, but miscommunication led to his death and the capture of his remaining men. Half of the Romans were killed in the battle, while the Parthians suffered minimal casualties thanks to the tactics of Surena and the skill of his archers.
This stunning defeat caused the Romans to begin integrating archers into their own forces. Campaigns in the east now saw legionaries backed up by both Roman and mercenary archers, turning the tactics of their enemies against them.
Legionaries used composite bows like those used by cavalry further east. These bows were made up of wood, bone, and animal hide. Their structure held up fine in drier areas, but the humid climate of central Europe forced them to use bows made entirely of wood. While these types of bows are known about, they have not been well preserved and most have rotted away with time.
As time went on, the Romans relied more and more on auxiliary military forces. Towards the end of the empire, Celtic and Germanic warriors made up the majority of their archers, and Roman arrowheads became indistinguishable from those used by these groups.
Above: Back of the specimen card.