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Photo from, Greek and Roman Artillery, by E. W. Marsden.


For many years researchers had suggested that the square hole visible in the side of this ancient skull was the work of a square headed ballista bolt. Recent studies have fired bolts from a replica Skorpion ballista at sheep skulls and concluded that a neat four sided hole would not be the likely wound signature from a ballista bolt. Apparently the dried out sheep skulls shattered into multiple fragments, rather than perforating cleanly. The researchers concluded that this hole was more likely made by the thrust of a Roman pilum (a type of spear),  probably in some form of battlefield execution. This may well be the case, however the sheep skull experiments do not seem to cover all the variables that might influence how a human skull will react to this kind of intrusion.  Perhaps freshly killed pig skulls would be a more accurate model.

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