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Focusing on gymnastics to gain strength, hardiness and endurance in childhood, they learned to throw the javelin – along with practicing archery and the battle-axe – when they grew older, before entering a specific regiment.

Javelins were carried by Egyptian light infantry, as a main weapon, and as an alternative to a spear or a bow and arrow, generally along with a shield.

This marked the first recorded occasion in ancient Greek military history in which a force entirely made up of peltasts had defeated a force of hoplites.

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However, devices do exist to assist the javelin thrower in achieving greater distance, generally called spear-throwers. A warrior or soldier armed primarily with one or more javelins is a javelineer.The word javelin comes from Middle English and it derives from Old French javelin, a diminutive of javelot, which meant spear.Pictorial evidence suggests that some versions of the weapon were weighted with a lead ball at the base of the shank in order to increase penetrative power, but no archaeological specimens have been found.Recent experiments have shown pila to have a range of about 30 metres, although the effective range is only about 15 to 20 metres.The excavated items were made of spruce (Picea) trunk and were between 1.83 and 2.25 metres long.

They were manufactured with the maximum thickness and weight situated at the front end of the wooden shaft.The word javelot probably originated from one of the Celtic languages.There is archaeological evidence that javelins and throwing sticks were already in use by the last phase of the lower Paleolithic.Each soldier from the Hastati and Principes lines carried two javelins.This heavy javelin, known as a Pilum (plural "pila"), was about two metres long overall, consisting of an iron shank, about 7 mm in diameter and 60 cm long, with pyramidal head, secured to a wooden shaft.The peltasts hurled their javelins at the enemy's heavier troops, the hoplite phalanx, in order to break their lines so that their own army's hoplites could destroy the weakened enemy formation.