Legionary's tools

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Dolabra owned and photographed by Lucius Equitius Cincinnatus Augur (member of Legio XX).

Josephus wrote that every legionary carried a pick-axe (dolabra), a basket, a saw, a sickle, a leather strap, and possibly a chain (the translation is questionable). Other tools included the entrenching tool (ligo) and several types of shovel. (The popular "turf cutter" is probably a bark stripper.) Most likely each man had a digging tool plus one or two of the other items. The leather strap would be useful for carrying turf blocks, as seen on Trajan's column. Baskets may be willow, reed, or split oak, and often looked much like modern wicker wastepaper baskets.

The palisade stake was known as a vallis or sudes, not "pilum murialis". It is about 5 feet long and can be made from a 2x2 (preferably oak; and some examples are approximately 4" square!). It tapers straight to a point at both ends, and the middle is narrowed to form a "handle". A legionary may have carried one or two stakes.

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