What is a Plumbata?
Many of you probably remember a yard game from the 70s and 80s called Yard Darts or Lawn Darts. In this game you would throw darts underhand at a ring set on the ground trying to land them into, or as close as possible to, the ring. These darts had a pointed steel tip, a large plastic fletching, and about a 4 inch grip behind the fletching.
Now, imagine a dart with a 6 to 8 inch long barbed iron tip and fletched wooden shaft with about a 4 inch grip behind the feathers. The iron tip and the wooden shaft are joined by a 3 to 4 ounce ball of lead. This is a Plumbata, a thrown weapon that Roman soldiers used with great effect during the 4th and 5th centuries CE. The name, Plumbata, is derived from the Latin word for lead, Plumbum. The lead gives this rather small weapon added weight which increases both the distance they can be thrown and their penetrating power upon impact.