Soliferrum or Soliferreum (Latin: "solus", "only" + "ferrum", "Iron") was the Roman name for an ancient Iberian ranged pole weapon made entirely of iron. The soliferrum was a heavy hand-thrown javelin, designed to be thrown to a short distance of up to 30 meters. In the Iberian language it was known as "Saunion".


The soliferrum was forged from a single piece of iron and would usually measured between 1.5 to 2 meters in length and around one centimeter in diameter. This missile weapon had a narrow barbed tip so it would pierce through shields and armours. The tip of the soliferrum came in several forms. Sometimes it had only a sharpened tip but usually it had two small spikes and sometimes even more. These spikes had one or several hooks, so the weapon would be hard to extract after it penetrates the enemy's body. The central part or the soliferrum was usually thickened to facilitate the grip of the weapon. Sometimes there were moldings of about ten centimeter long in the middle of the weapon to further improve the grip and to prevent the weapon from slipping because of sweaty hands.


The soliferrum was an extremely effective heavy javelin. The weight and the density of the weapon's iron shaft, its small diameter and its narrow tip would grant the soliferrum an excellent armor-piercing capacity at close range and enabled it the ability of even penetrating through heavy shields.


Ancient Iberian warriors were heavy users of javelins. They would cast this ranged weapon by volleys in order to disorganize the enemy formation before advancing to close combat with mêlée weapons. After passing away the Iberian warrior would be buried with his soliferrum and all of his other weapons.


Archeological findings suggest that the soliferrum first appeared in the regions of Aquitania and Languedoc, right to the North of the Pyrenees, during the 1st millennium BC. From there the weapon extended into the Iberian Peninsula by way of migrating Celts. It was in Iberia where the soliferrum achieved its fame. The soliferrum remained in use in the Iberian peninsula under Roman rule until the end of the 3rd century and it coexisted with the falarica (the Iberian pilum).

ee also


External links

* [ Weapons of the Iberian peninsula]

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