Iberian Ambush 130 BC Note the bronze helmet of the Roman soldier (foreground). Roman helmets would be made of iron by the late first century AD, and they plume in the helmet - a vestige of early iron-age warfare - would be abandoned far earlier.
Maniple (meaning handful) was a tactical unit formation. It was also the name of the military insignia carried by such unit. Attached to a legion were also a number of very light skirmishers called velites armed with javelins drawn from the poorer sections of Roman society, a handful of Equestrian cavalry, auxiliaries (mostly cavalry) drawn from Rome's Italian allies (socii) and a large number of non-combatants.