1683: I've never seen one of these in the flesh but I would hazard a
guess at an early sperry gyrocompass sender unit or an artificial
horizon sender unit. it seems to have a number of compensating gizmos
around it and the woodwork looks decidedly aircraft. this would be the
sender back in the fuselage that drives the pilot's instrument.
1684: looks like something made quite recently but I'm guessing the
original would have been dropped behind the lines in WW2, in the
thousands along roads, to spike the tyres of enemy vehicles.
I dont know what they were called but dropped on to the ground one
spike always pointed up.
"Caltrop". The basic design dates back to the Romans or earlier. There's a
photo of that very item on the wikipedia page for "caltrop"--a fine point of
the design is that the hollow tubes make them effective against self-sealing
Those were made of solid metal since nobody cared whether air came out
of feet or hooves. :)
There's a fellow at the SCA Pennsic War who does an iron smelt every
year and forges something out of the produce. One year it was caltrops
with three-inch spikes. OUCH!
Yeah, I was joking entirely on the implication of pneumatic tires at the
I'm pretty sure "caltrop" isn't in Caesar at all; origination appears to
be roughly 1000 AD according to OED (from similarity to plant w/ a
thorny head/sticker somewhat like what we call a "goathead")...
The word isn't, but the object apparently is, only in latin it's supposed to
be "murex ferreus"--the entry in vicipedia for that term (not that vicipedia
is necessarily correct) contains a photo of the very same object we are
discussing or one very, very much like it. This usage is also supported by
"A Dictionary of Roman and Greek Antiquities" by Anthony Rich, published in
Quintus Curtus, writing around the time of Caesar, uses the term: "Nondum
ad iactum teli pervenerant, cum Bion quidam transfuga, quanto maximo cursu
potuerat, ad regem pervenit nuntians, murices ferreos in terram defodisse
Dareum, qua hostem equites emissurum esse credebat, notatumque certo signo
locum, ut fraus evitari a suis posset" in discussion of the campaigns of
Alexander, several hundred years before. Whether his description of the
Alexandrian use is correct or not, clearly he was familiar with the term,
and if he knew a military term, it is difficult to imagine Caesar not
Allow me. I did Latin O-level.
"None to throwing telly came through, with Bion who fled across, as
much as possible running he could, to the king came through
announcing, Maurice's ferrets in the earth - um... thing... of
Dareus, whose cavalry was sent out to be believed, and to note for
sure the sign of the path, that the German girls ran out at his very
own, he could."
(I scraped a C. And I must admit I was joking about Maurice's ferrets.
In reality "ferreos" is probably "railway" or something like that.)
Richard Heathfield <http://www.cpax.org.uk
Email: -http://www. +rjh@
A murex is a very spiny sea snail, also know for producing a purple dye,
with which rich Romans dyed their togas, and orthodox Jews still dye
their tassels. So a "murex ferreus" would be an "iron sea-snail".
Be careful with your assumptions--the use of a word in modern biology does
not necessarily reflect its use in classical Latin. In this particular case
Aristotle did call certain sea snails "murex" but it was apparently also
used to refer to a "sharp stone" or "projecting rock", and murex shells do
often have various points sticking out, some of them quite long, so one can
easily imagine them being referred to by the same name as sharp stones or
that a caltrop be named after them.
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