Roman Military Tech at the Battle of Zama

The Battle of Zama was fought in October of 202 b.c.e. which was the deciding battle in the Second Punic war and brought Carthage under Roman control. The battle was fought in North Africa near Carthage. The forces involved were Hannibal and his 51,000 troops and 80 war elephants for Carthage against Scipio Africanus and his 40,000 Roman soldiers. The battle was a decisive victory for the Romans with casualties on the Carthaginian side over 20,000 and the same number captured. The Roman force suffered 5,500 casualties in comparison. (Wikipedia)

The military technology used at this time was the standard load-out for the Romans. From the Archeological and Documentary evidence found for this time period the following weapons and armor are assumed to have been used by the Romans:

Gladius Hispaniensis: The basic short sword used by the Romans that was adopted from Spain.

Gladius Hispaniensis

Pila: The throwing weapon of choice for Legionaries.


Pugio: The dagger that was the fallback weapon when all else had failed.

Also used at this time was Artillery that threw heavy pieces of debris or other pieces of material. The exact information regarding the artillery pieces are sketchy at best due to the lack of physical evidence to verify what they did exactly. The artillery was constructed with information gathered from Defectors from the Greek forces of the time thus enabling the Romans tech without the pain of trial and error. (Bishop)

The standard armor kit for the Roman soldiers at this point was a Chain or Ring Mail. This was light enough for desert campaigning while also providing the protection needed for close combat. The last piece of protective equipment that was used was the Scutum, or large shield that provided the protection needed to wage war in the Phalanx formations that Romans favored. (Zhmodikov)

Possibly the most telling information we have regarding the military tech of this time is summed up in the following statement:

“Our ignorance of the equipment and garb of Republican Soldiers is almost total: for not only is the archaeological evidence lacking, but also there is hardly any representational material to help fill the gaps.” (Bishop)


Works Cited

Bishop, M.C. Roman Military Equipment: from the Punic Wars to the fall of Rome. Oxbow: Oxford, 2006. Print.

Wikipedia. Battle of Zama. February 2012. Web. February 2012.

Zhmodikov, Alexander. Roman Republican Heavy Infantrymen in Battle. Verlag, 2000. Web.



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Filed under Cohort VII Scutum Decoris

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