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DOLABRA dim. DOLABELLA, a tool consisting of a long handle and a double head, which terminated on one side in a sharp blade, the edge of which ran parallel to the handle while the blade of the ascia was at right angles to the handle), and on the other side in a pick, which was usually curved (falx, Prop. 4.2, 59). In this form it was used for hewing wood (Curt. 8.4.11), for pruning, where the pruninghook was not strong enough (Column. de Arb. 10, 2), for making stockades (Juv. 8.248; Veget. de Re Mil. 2.25), and for breaking down ramparts and walls (Liv. 9.37, 21.11; Tac. Hist. 3.20 and 27; Curt. 9.5.19). It was consequently a tool familiar to the Roman soldier, as may be seen in the accompanying illustration (Fig. b), from Trajan's Column.

Dolabra. (Blümner.)

For the purpose, however, of excavating or breaking up the earth (Pallad. 2.1 and 3, 3.21), a dolabra with a straighter pick appears to have been used, as is shown in Fig. a, from a relief on a tomb. Of a similar form is Fig. c, which represents the dolabra used by masons (Isid. Orig. 19.19, 11). The hatchet used at sacrifices ( “scena ab aliis, a quibusdam sacena appellatur dolabra pontificalis,” Festus, p. 318, M.) and by butchers (Dig. 33, 7, 18) was also called a dolabra, and is figured here.

The dolabella is to

Dolabra. (From funeral monument.)

be used, according to Columella, 4.24, for breaking up the earth round the vines and for pruning. (Blümner, Tech. u. Term., &c., vol. ii. p. 206.)

J. Y.]


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