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The lancea was the Roman auxiliaries' short javelin. According to the OED, the word originally came from the Celtiberian language, also cf. (lonche), the Greek term for lance.
Arrian made use of the lancea during a battle with the Alans, and recorded the events in the Ektaxis kata Alanon (translated as The order of battle against the Alans). He formed his legionaries into eight ranks to meet the enemy charge, and equipped the first four ranks with pila and the last four with lancea, with which to throw over the heads of their comrades. As such, it is suggested that legionaries were equipped with lancea instead of pila if the occasion called for it.
- ^ Goldsworthy, Adrian (2003). The Complete Roman Army. London: Thames & Hudson. p. 132. ISBN 978-0500288993.