A Roman Iron Hasta, Roman Republican Period ca. 1st century BCE
RX2102Regular price $2,500 USD
This elegantly formed socketed hasta (spearhead) probably belonged to one of the elite Roman triarii. The triaarii was the oldest and among the wealthiest men in the army who could afford high-quality equipment, as evidenced by this example. They wore heavy metal armor and carried large shields, their usual position being the third battle line. They were equipped with hasta and were considered to be elite soldiers among the legion. With an elongated triangular blade with a raised mid-rib framed by grooves on either side, an integral tapering socket for attachment to a shaft, and concentric grooves around the socket.
The Hasta was an original weapon of the Roman army back when the phalanx formation was used. The weapon fell out of use with the switch to the sword, when the Pilum replaced the Hasta as the main Roman spear. It began to regain popularity with the Roman infantry during the third century CE. The Hasta was used differently than the Pilum as it was held and thrust towards the enemy rather than thrown. One major reason for the adaptation of the Hasta and the demise of the Pilum was due to it being better suited for a large number of cavalrymen the Romans were experiencing during the third century. The weapons' thicker shaft and heavy iron point, as opposed to the Pila soft point, let the weapon survive a thrust. The two-meter shaft gave infantry troops range between both enemy footmen and mounted cavalry. However, during Republican times, the hastati were re-armed with pila and gladii and the hasta was only retained by the triaarii.
Dimensions: Length: 13 3/8 inches (34 cm)
Condition: Expected age deterioration due to medium, but overall complete. According to the old accompanying label, was restored by the British museum, but the timeframe is unknown. Offered on a museum-quality custom mount.
Provenance: Private UK collection, acquired from Sothebys or Christies in the 1990s. Found in the Thames and stabilized by the British Museum.