From the 'Sharp and Pointy Things' Collection
A dolabra is a so called pioneer axe, used to fell trees and such, though it could also be used as weapon if needs be. What is left nowadays are the iron parts; the wooden handles usually have decayed. But the design hasn't changed much over times.
Dolabrae (left) and part of a shovel blade (right) from the Hedemünden finds.
Shovels were needed for digging trenches which formed part of Roman forts and marching camps. It is amazing to imagine that the Romans - according to the sources - on the first night of the Varus battle, after the German attack had already begun albeit not yet full scale, still managed to build a proper marching camp complete with entrenchments and walls. Says something about Roman discipline.
The pic shows some pioneer axes from the Hedemünden finds that were presented in an exhibition in Hannoversch-Münden
in 2009 - the year of the 2000 year anniversary of the Varus battle.