Right so this is a running theme of the blog… what in the name of Jupiters divine posterior was this thing for. So far we have theorized that it was a hobbling device a training device to get horses to highstep but not quite dismissed the idea that it was a temporary horse shoe… well not all of us. The most exciting thing was talking to Amanda (thus avoiding having to actively participate in a little girls birthday party) and discovering that a similar design is currently being marketed and sold to equestrians (that means horsey people).
So guess what I did today…I was in the museum looking at the artifacts. First I looked at the hippo sandal then the Caligae and then a caltrop. Then I looked back to the hippo sandal and then the caltrop then the sole of the Caligae.
The Caligae are an important piece of kit for the ancient Roman soldier. They have thick soles reinforced with hobnails. The Roman soldier had the best footware in the ancient world… maybe only rivaled by modern boots. These were boots that enabled him to march over difficult ground and protect his soles spikes, caltrops and sharp stones not to mention a terrible weapon that enable the legionary to stamp a downed enemy into jelly. But the caltrops held my attention.
Caltrops, known to the Romans as a tribulus, are a area denial weapon sown onto a battlefield to cripple men, horses and extreme cases elephants (and in the modern age tanks). The enemy would stand on them and express their discontent in a loud manner before trying to get the thing out of their foot. A charge of foot men is impossible, horses are rended lame and elephants go bonkers but the last thing the Romans would want is for their own horses to be denied the same area. In fact a charge of light horse would change a faltering charge into a rout ,without the heavy infantry from even having to draw their gladius, in no time but they would need to protect their own horses frogs (the soft bit of the foot) from the caltrops.
What caught my attention was the “sole” of the shoe which is completely covered. This iron base would be sufficient to squash any spike down allowing the horsemen to ride over caltrops with complete contempt… and of course anything else which was on the battlefield.