Why did the javelin become more popular after Hoplites rather than before

Mrbsct

Ad Honorem
Jul 2013
2,620
USA
#1
Why did the pealtast and the javelin emerge to be widespread after the hoplite's fall rather than before. The Greeks considered missile weapons cowardly in the Classical era, however by the time of Alexander Pealstas to Heavy pealstas became more popular. By the Roman times a lot more heavy pealtasts were fielded.

Was it due to the rise of iron and mild technology that could pierce the Linothroax?
 
Aug 2014
4,342
Australia
#2
Javelins became the predominant ranged weapon in the Aegean at the end of the Bronze Age. From rhat time onwards they mainly relied on foreigners for archer contingents.
 
Aug 2014
4,342
Australia
#3
Look at the early depictions of hoplites. Whenever you see a hoplite carrying more than one spear it is a safe assumption that at least one of them was meant for throwing. On some illustrations, like the Chigi vase (see below), you can even see the throwing loops. Hoplites commonly carried javelins until peltasts started to be employed.









 
Last edited:
Jun 2013
745
Agraphur
#4
It's due to change in warfare, before the Peleponessian war, Greek wars was generally seasonal affairs which allowed wealthy citizens to be part time soldiers, hoplites. When wars continuously lasted year after year. Permanent units, cheaply equipped and compensated were required and the peltasts came to dominate the battle field.
 
Aug 2014
4,342
Australia
#5
Peltasts started to be used because it was realised that mixed unit tactics were better than relying on one unit to do everything. In warfare, specialisation is better than generalisation. Throwing spears never stopped being used from the end of the Bronze Age, they just changed the way they were deployed.
 
Jan 2015
2,876
MD, USA
#6
Why did the pealtast and the javelin emerge to be widespread after the hoplite's fall rather than before. The Greeks considered missile weapons cowardly in the Classical era, however by the time of Alexander Pealstas to Heavy pealstas became more popular. By the Roman times a lot more heavy pealtasts were fielded.
Yeah, it's never that simple. Javelins and throwing spears were perfectly common at least from the Late Bronze Age, as others have said. And they never entirely went away.

Also, be VERY careful of how the word "peltast" changes! At first, yes, it's those pesky Thracians with their crescent-shaped shields and spiffy boots chucking pairs of spears. But in Alexander's period, the word is apparently just being used to mean "infantry", with no real definition of light vs. heavy, armor vs. no armor, or what sort of weapons were used. Peltasts are sometimes mentioned as distinctive from actual javelin-throwers, in fact, so probably all we're talking about is line infantry. Also, since the Macedonian round shield was called a pelta, armored pikemen in dense formations could be called "peltasts"!

Was it due to the rise of iron and mild technology that could pierce the Linothroax?
The Bronze Age Mycenaeans had linen armor, and seemed to consider it adequate against bronze weapons. Of course the Greeks of the Archaic and early Classical era seem to have been using mostly leather or hide armor (spolas), though they often mention *other* people using linen armor. And most of those other people were also using iron weapons, just like the Greeks. Linen armor was probably becoming more common in Greece after the Peloponnesian Wars--the debates rage on. But by that point you have plenty of troops out there with only a shield for protection, maybe a helmet, and they weren't considered suicide squads.

Suffice it to say that javelins and throwing spears were around the whole time.

Matthew
 

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