Utensils in use for legionaries

Some news about the utensils in use for legionaries, particularly dolabra and ligo, respectively pick and shovel. The archaeological finds show as every legionary was endowed with these tools and the representations withdraw him intent to use them in the daily life. The original and full version was written by Matthew R. Amt and is available here.


Josephus says 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" may also have served as 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 turf cutter above was modified from a modern "chopper" by Tom Kolb. The shovel head is a forged 18th century style from G. Gedney Godwin. The dolabra is from Albion Armorers, and the hatchet is an 18th century forged tomahawk with a Roman edge sheath.




Hand-forged dolabra, with haft and sheath by Mike Cope. Albion's is very similar, but Deepeeka's is not very good (too large, and should not be polished).





  • (17/12/2005) Traduzione ed impaginazione della guida omonima di Matthew R. Amt, HANDBOOK FOR LEGIONARIES