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Jan 4, 2024

[Answer] What was the Roman testudo?

Step 1 : Introduction to the question " What was the Roman testudo? "


In Ancient Roman warfare, the testudo was a formation used commonly by the Roman legions during battles, particularly sieges. Testudo is the Latin word for "tortoise".

In the testudo formation, the men would align their shields to form a packed formation covered with shields on the front and top. The first row of men, possibly excluding the men on the flanks, would hold their shields from about the height of their shins to their eyes, so as to cover the formation's front. The shields would be held in such a way that they presented a shield wall to all sides.

The men in the back ranks would place their shields over their heads to protect the formation from above, balancing the shields on their helmets, overlapping them. If necessary, the legionaries on the sides and rear of the formation could stand sideways or backwards with shields held as the front rows, so as to protect the formation's sides and rear.

Caius Dion, in turn, mentions in “Roman history” that the testudo formation was so strong, tight and resilient that it was said to be able to withstand the weight of a horse walking on shields, and even a towed cart.

However, this formation had its problems: it made hand-to-hand combat difficult for the soldiers, those in the front row had bare legs, which made it possible to hit them. Also, it was vulnerable to shell fire because it was a relatively large and compact target, a single well-fired shell from a catapult could inflict heavy casualties.

More Info: en.wikipedia.org

Step 2 : Answer to the question " What was the Roman testudo? "

A battering ram:

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