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Archaeologists Astounded by Iberian and Roman Armor and Weapon Find

Archaeologists Astounded by Iberian and Roman Armor and Weapon Find


Spanish archaeologists have unearthed an exceptional collection of Iberian and Roman armor and weapons in an ancient, conflict-ridden city. Valuable helmets, swords, daggers, and shields have all been discovered at the archaeological site.

A Prime Location for a Roman Colony

The Iberian and Roman armor and weapons were found in decades of excavations in the ancient city of Libisosa near Lezuza, Albacete, in South-Eastern Spain. Archaeologists have discovered artifacts from the Iberian, Roman, and Medieval periods at this geostrategic location over the years. The latest weapon and armor findings continue to shed light on a conflictive period of the region’s past.

The Libisosa archaeological site near Lezuza, Albacete, Spain. (CC BY SA 2.5)

According to El Español, the Romans were drawn to the site in 180 BC due to its abundance of water and its prime location for the conquest of the Iberian Peninsula. The creation of the colony made it easier for the Romans to pass between areas in places now referred to as the Plateau to Andalusia and the Levant to the Extremadura and Portugal. Over the decades of archaeological digs, researchers have turned up numerous imported luxury jars, plates, bowls, cups, and ceramics, further emphasizing the importance of the site.

Libisosa also saw a lot of conflict over the years. It was not only a site the Romans had to conquer on the Iberian Peninsula, but was also a location where they fought among themselves in a civil war. From 82 to 72 BC, Roman rebels known as the Sertorians battled against the government in Rome called the Sullans. Libisosa witnessed the outcomes of those battles. Some of the Roman armor and weapons found at Libisosa are relics from that civil war.

Swords discovered at Libisosa. (Héctor Uroz)

The Impressive Iberian and Roman Armor and Weapon Collection

Archaeologist Fernando Quesada of the Universidad Autónoma of Madrid and ancient history professor Héctor Uroz of the University of Murcia have published the first paper on the excellently conserved Iberian and Roman armor and weapons collection from Libisosa in the journal GladiusIn the paper they write that the assemblage’s importance comes from “the size, good state of preservation, typological variety (a good sample of offensive and defensive weapons and horse tack), and its precise, urban archaeological context.”

An analysis of the arms and armor show that they come from two periods - the Late Iron Age Iberian and Roman Republican eras. According to El Español, many of the weapons and armor were created in pre-Roman times, “where military pieces from the Oretan people abound,” but they also come from the period of stabilization following the Roman Conquest and the aforementioned Sertorian Wars. The authors write that “the weapons from Libisosa are one of the most important assemblages in the Peninsula, in a level with those from Numantia, Caminreal or Osuna.”

El Español reports that two of the most notable pieces found in the Iberian and Roman armor and weapons assemblage are a sword from the middle of the 2nd century BC and an iron helmet without cheek pieces. The  Gladiuspaper states that the sword was found just leaning against a wall, “which has caused an unintended curvature of the blade.”

This sword is one of the more remarkable pieces found in the Iberian and Roman armor and weapons assemblage. (Héctor Uroz and Nora Hernández)

Quesada and Uroz write that the iron helmet was discovered in a small house with other “exceptional objects” from the Iberian period. They explain that it is a Montefortino type of helmet, but without cheek pieces and “the absence of cheek pieces and the metal used makes this helmet far from what we can usually expect in a context of Roman legionaries.”

Other interesting finds include daggers and arrowheads and an iron shield boss, or umbo. The Met explains that an umbo was “attached over a hole in the center of a circular or oval wooden shield and protected the hand of the person holding it.”

Photos and drawings of the Montefortino type of helmet, it’s discovery at Libisosa, and what this type of helmet looked like on ancient soldiers. (Héctor Uroz and Nora Hernández)

Investigations Continue at Libisosa

Since weapons were often lost on the battlefield, the researchers note that the Iberian and Roman origins of the armor and weapons does not mean that only Iberians or Romans used these artifacts. “Actually, in the middle of the second century BC, from the piece itself it cannot be deduced whether in its last use it was wielded by a Hispanic resistant against Rome, a Hispanic ally of Rome, or a Roman legionary,” the authors write in their paper.

El Español reports that the remarkable discoveries of the ancient weapons and armor and other artifacts have inspired archaeologists to continue their excavations at Libisosa.

Top Image: Iberian and Roman armor and weapons have been found in the ancient city of Libisosa in Spain. Source: Héctor Uroz and Nora Hernández

By Alicia McDermott



Peter Kemp's picture

Thanks for posting!

Alicia McDermott's picture


Alicia McDermott holds degrees in Anthropology, Psychology, and International Development Studies and has worked in various fields such as education, anthropology, and tourism. Traveling throughout Bolivia, Peru, Colombia, and Ecuador, Alicia has focused much of her research on Andean cultures... Read More

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