I tried pulling on this bolt head for quite a while.  It wouldn’t budge.

Knocked on it all ways, I did.   With a 4  pound  hammer too.  It’s recalcitrance was amazing.    The 2  3/4″ inches of hardened steel embedded in the block defeated all my attempts to remove it by tugging and hammering,  so eventually I hauled out the cold chisel.   Then it hit me, possibly some of the holes in that wall at Pompeii are the size they are because someone chopped the bolt heads out with a cold chisel.  It is the only practical way I know of to extract one of these bad boy stilettos from concrete masonry.

For Joel (AKA Cap’t Harpoon, Warhammer etc.) re: his comment,  — Okay yes!,  legionaries could have lugged around a whacking great crowbar of the sort used to pull railroad spikes.  Not a bad plan,  until the poor noodypoll that has to carry it, dumps the thing in a ditch somewhere.  Also, it probably would not have been terribly effective for overhead work if you are standing on a ladder.  Cold chisels seem way more Occam.  :)

The next two videos give some idea of this “recalcitrance”.

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It actually took about 1/3 longer to get this one out than shown in the above vids.  Here is what the concrete block looked like after it had undergone it’s boltectomy.

It seems to me that with the right wall material,  a good artilleryman would have been able to make a veritable ladder out of well aimed ballista bolts.  Perhaps not all those impact craters at Pompeii and elsewhere were the random misses we have supposed.  If the wall you are trying to scale,  suddenly sprouts a pattern of well anchored pitons,  that may have provided a useful advantage for an attacker.

One Response to “Afflatus”


  1. Captn harpoon says:

    Wouldnt it have made more sense to make a pry bar much like one used to pull railroad spikes? Five or six foot long would do the trick. A two man team,one would pry on the bolt head, the other striking it repeatedly to set up a vibriation and loosening it.

    A combination of the two would have worked I think, and would caused less damage to the wall.

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