A Pilum (plural pila) was a javelin thrown by Roman Legionnaires to disrupt an enemy line moments before closing for hand-to-hand contact.
The pilum was about 6 or 6 1/2 feet long, weighing between 2 and 5 pounds (heavier early in Roman era, lighter later). There was an iron shaft at the front which was about a quarter inch diameter and about 2 feet long. A wood pole, 4 feet long or so was attached to the metal shaft. The wood added plenty of mass to the pilum giving it good penetration capacity. A point on the base of the pilum made it usable to stack with other pila in camp or plant in the ground for an ad hoc defense from cavalry.
A hard triangular tip was designed to punch through armor. With enough force it could penetrate a shield.
Previous post took a guess at quantifying the value of King Solomon’s chariots and warhorses. Earlier post estimated the number of warhorses King Solomon owned along with the number of chariots in his kingdom.
Here is another text that allows us to make estimates of some portions of his vast wealth.
1 Kings 10: 14-29 (emphasis added to highlight specific valuations):
Previous post estimated the number of warhorses King Solomon owned along with citing the number of chariots in his kingdom.
Here are two of the texts used to make an estimate of some portions of his vast wealth:
2 Chronicles 1:14-17 (emphasis added for attention on specific valuations):
“Solomon accumulated chariots and horses; he had fourteen hundred chariots and twelve thousand horses, which he kept in the chariot cities and also with him in Jerusalem. The king made silver and gold as common in Jerusalem as stones, and cedar as plentiful as sycamore-fig trees in the foothills. Solomon’s horses were imported from Egypt and from Kue—the royal merchants purchased them from Kue at the current price. They imported a chariot from Egypt for six hundred shekels of silver, and a horse for a hundred and fifty. They also exported them to all the kings of the Hittites and of the Arameans. (NIV)
King Solomon, ruler from about 970 B.C. through 931 B.C., had both wealth and wisdom beyond compare.
One source (didn’t make note of it at the time and won’t bother looking for it again) suggested his wealth was in the range of $2.2 trillion dollars in current measurement. Yes, trillion, as in 1,000 billion.
His wisdom is described in 1 Kings 4:30-31:
“Solomon’s wisdom was greater than the wisdom of all the people of the East, and greater than all the wisdom of Egypt. He was wiser than anyone else… (NIV)
Since this blog ponders ancient finances, the next few posts will lightly touch on some indications of Solomon’s wealth. First Kings and Second Chronicles contain some indications of his wealth than can be quantified.
Number of horses and chariots
The texts contain references to the number of chariots and horses owned by King Solomon. First issue to ponder is a supposed conflict in text.
What was the price of a Viking sword at the time? How about expressing a price then in some unit of measure we can grasp today? I have looked on the ol’ net but haven’t found any good guesses. Previous post discussed one indicator that I couldn’t process.
Hurstwic website describes one sword that had a reported value. Chapter 13 of Laxdæla saga says a sword given to Höskuldur by King Hákon was worth a half mark of gold.
Charlemagne became king of the Franks in 768 A.D. and expanded his rule until he died in 814, according to Wikipedia. That puts the price in the timeframe of late 700s or very early 800s. This is in contrast to the Lex Rubuaia having first been written in around 630.
I tried to convert that 7 solidi into something we can relate to.
Short overview of the evolution of the means of exchange during Viking Era can be found in Viking Currency, an article by Dani Trynoski at Medievalists.net.
A basic economic concept to remember: part of the definition of money is a means of exchange and store of value. A silver armband, brooch, or coin can be both a store of value and means of exchange. Standard size silver coins are easier to work with on both criteria than jewelry.
A few pounds of silver is far easier to carry and use to buy stuff later than several dozen (?) furs, a dozen or two cows, or a few shiploads of grain.
Consider there was no secure way to store wealth in the time of the Vikings. There were no banks, no marketable securities, no way to establish reliable title to land. In essence, there was no store of value other than bullion or coins.
So, if you had a huge amount of wealth beyond your livestock and weapons, it would be in the form of bullion or coins. To keep it safe from theft, you would have to hide it in the ground.
Wealthy people who were killed, captured, never came back from another raid or trading expedition, or merely forgot where they buried their wealth abandoned all of their underground accumulation to be found some later time.
In The Age of the Vikings, Anders Winroth says children on a school outing found one hoard of 1,452 silver coins from the Viking age. Almost the entire hoard was Arabic dirham coins.
Author says there have been over 700 hoards found in Gotland. There was so much silver buried that another find is usually discovered each year.