Below is a slomo 4X vid of a 6050 grain glans taking a whack at my catulpa log.  Velocity is 270.1 feet per second, energy 971 foot pounds.  Draw length is now at 45″.

Click here for video, 20100626125813

The next video is in real time and the draw length has increased to 47″.  Velocity is 285.4 feet per second, energy 1096 foot pounds.

Click here for video, 20100626130231

The photo below shows that the first of these two shots hit the log sideways and penetrated one inch deep.  The second shot that struck lower down,  hit end on and can be seen buried in the log to a depth of 2″.

Although today’s test only represents two data points, it does appear that ancient lead glandes may well have tumbled end over end in flight.  Perhaps there are some subtle nuances of how the pouch is rigged that might affect this.  Much more testing is needed to know for sure.

Today’s energy levels and velocities would seem to indicate that the Romans may well have adapted their inswinger ballistas to be glans projectors merely by changing the strings.  (A half minute operation if you’ve got the right gear and a few extra men to spare.)   By following the simple logic of attempting to wring as much function as we can out of the basic design given to us by the original Orsova artifacts, it takes, I think , more imagination to disclaim the likelihood of  inswingers being used as  powerful weapons with lead slugs as well as with the usual  sharp bolts.

Maximum function need not always require maximum lethality.  It just depends on the situation.  Unlike a crossbow that always needs to be drawn to full cock, the thing about a ballista is that you can vary its power by how far back you pull its moving catch.  Clearly at  full power a  lead slug packing 1100 foot pound would be profoundly  fatal.  However,  mob control is something the Romans probably had need of.   Set for stun, and the lead glandes may have been just the ticket for intimidating rather than killing.  While bolts are expensive to manufacture and maintain,  glandes are nothing more than lumps of cast lead.   While I doubt a lead glans would ever better the accuracy or armour penetration of a good bolt,  for the cost of a bowstring with a pouch in it and a few lead slugs,  it is  hard to imagine that the Romans would not have found the capabilities of a glans shooting ballista useful for certain situations.

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