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Roman Glands, Projectile Tests - Chris Harrison

Real Roman Glandes
I had the opportunity to put some ceramics experience to use and make projectiles more similar to historical ones. Specifically, I was trying to emulate the Roman’s glands, an American football (or rugby) shaped projectile about 1-3 inches long. Historically these projectiles were made from lead, ceramic, or stone. The design was purportedly supposed to extend range, accuracy, and effectiveness. I wanted to put it to the test. I was also curious to see if the football-like projectiles would tumble through the air or fly like a “bullet.”

I also made spherical projectiles, as I hadn’t found many perfect stones, to get a sense of their range. I hoped to compare the range of the two shapes, but to make the test fair, it was better to use the same material density and weight (so that shape was the only variable). I took a trip to the town park and situated my bucket full or projectiles on one end of the (American) football field (100 yards or 300 feet) to get a bearing of my range.

Real Roman Glandes

Initially my casts were a bit off. I’d like to blame it on the fact that I was getting used to the different projectiles, but it’s more likely my shameful slinging skill was at fault. Eventually I got the hang of it and was getting good throws. I had a runner out in the field to gauge my range and to bring the projectiles back, as I had a limited number.

The range was certainly better than chucking any old rock I found on the ground. I was getting perhaps 350 feet with a 3-foot sling (underarm, which is pretty good for me as I’m not particularly strong). I also noticed that my accuracy was much better, landing near (and almost hitting) my runner quite constantly. There wasn’t an obvious difference in distance between the two types, although overall, I think that the spherical ones were more accurate. It was extraordinarily hard to see if the football-shaped ones were tumbling or not. I hope to do more trials in the future.

- Chris Harrison

© 2007