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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Oct, 2008 1:39 pm    Post subject: The Archeology of Weapons -- A worthy read?         Reply with quote

I picked up a copy of this book by Ewart Oakeshott some months ago, but I am only now getting to reading it in depth. I've about finished the bronze age section (First chapter) after today, and was wondering if the book itself is solid enough to bother reading further into? I read the user reviews here and some where positive, but a few disliked the book because it was almost exclusively about swords.

M.

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Nathan Robinson
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Oct, 2008 2:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You mentioned the book reviews in your post and I just wanted to include a link to them for others: Reviews of this book on myArmoury.com

I did not note critique of the book being too sword-focused. If anything, one review indicates that it's one of Oakeshott's least sword-focused books.

It's a great book and a quick read. It's not much of a "bother" to read it, in my opinion. The information you'll gather is worth the small effort invested. Much of what is discussed in the book makes for an important foundation in his other works. His books are not highly technical but almost conversational. As such, they're entertaining to read but should not be considered as scientific references.

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Dan Dickinson
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Oct, 2008 2:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Frankly I think anything by Ewart is worth reading. He does deal with swords much of the time, as those were his first love, but does a good job of covering other weapons and armor. There are a few things that probably shouldn't be considered as gospel (for example his idea that Assyrian and Celtic helmets are connected), but overall it's a fine overview and an entertaining read.
Just my 2 cents,
Dan
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Oct, 2008 4:42 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

He makes several references to things I don't know, so for me it's a more difficult read than for others Wink

Looks to be good, however.

M.

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Doug Lester




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Oct, 2008 5:37 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I would have to agree that oakeshott is probably one of the best references to have. I do not, however, take everything that he says as gospel, such as the historical connections in the development of the sword in different parts of the word. That said, I think that most of his points are well thought out and bear consideration. I think that it would be intellectually dangerous to consider any author to be the end all and be all in the subject. That point of view promotes dogmatism and stifles research.
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Ben Potter
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Oct, 2008 6:54 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Oakeshott is well worth reading as for as I am concerned. His archeology of weapons is among my favorites. I enjoy his style and the historical examples he uses.

My 2 cents,

-Ben

P.S. if you hate it I'll send you my address and will take it of your hands free of charge Wink

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Justin King
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PostPosted: Sun 05 Oct, 2008 7:01 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have not read the book in question, but have read some of his other books and have found it to be very worthwhile material. He does make an occasional sweeping generalization that I find hard to swallow but this is true of many, if not most of the authors I have read on the subject. His terminology sometimes leaves me wondering as well but as Nathan pointed out, his writing style is more conversational than technical. His experience in handling originals is hard to argue with, I think, although new research and findings may be able to expand somewhat on his writings.
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Nathan Keysor




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PostPosted: Sun 05 Oct, 2008 8:19 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think it is a great book. It saved me from suicide last year while I was sitting in the waiting room of my accountant during tax season for hours Big Grin
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Liberty is a well-armed lamb contesting the vote!"
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 06 Oct, 2008 5:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

All of Oakshott's books are worth reading. Note that his area of expertise is swords and that other areas may not be as well researched. Also keep in mind that this book is almost 50 years old and scholarship has moved on since 1960.
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Lafayette C Curtis




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PostPosted: Thu 09 Oct, 2008 9:29 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan Howard wrote:
Also keep in mind that this book is almost 50 years old and scholarship has moved on since 1960.


The newest edition of the book has an errata sheet at the front that mollifies this "datedness" somewhat. Of course it's still the most dated of Oakeshott's works--which might make it particularly interesting for anybody who's interested in tracking the changes in Oakeshott's thoughts and ideas through the years.
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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Fri 10 Oct, 2008 1:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

From my point of view, being an archaeologist, the book is definitly an entertaining read.
But most of its more "cultural" contents are more than a little outdated and already where when the book came out.
Of course that doesn't touch the more technical informations.

I didn't regret buying it for my little library. Happy

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Tue 14 Oct, 2008 8:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

What book is the best work he did? If it's heavily dated (it seems this one was reprinted in 1996), I may still read it, but the last thing I want is to get wrong ideas in my head. I'll be able to buy some more books next month (Yay for being an aimless college student), so what's the "must have" for his work? Or, if there is a better material by another author, what is it? I already own a well used copy of "Arms and Armor of the Medieval Knight", which from what I've gathered here is a great resource (though it's a lot shorter than I would have thought).

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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 14 Oct, 2008 9:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Archaeology of Weapons was the book that got me started in all this, but I've never returned to it. I think it's worth reading, though.

For breadth, try European Weapons and Armour.

For an excellent visual education, Records of the Medieval Sword

If your main interest is medieval swords, I'd suggest getting ROTMS first, then Sword In the Age of Chivalry. ROTMS will make you a better (more informed) consumer of reproduction swords.

ROTMS and EWA are the only Oakeshott titles I go back to often, but then my interests tend to 1450-1650.

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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James R.Fox




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PostPosted: Sat 18 Oct, 2008 7:26 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs Mr Oakshot"s Archaeology of Weapons was the first of his books I bought and read,and I still have it. I think his Records of the Medieval Sword is his best, as it includes his arguements as to why he feels that many swords are dated wrongly because they look"too modern". He considers that many swords dated to the 13-1400's because of their workmanship are in fact from the 11-1200's. He says many curators make this mistake because they havent intensively handled and studied the material.
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Martin Whalen





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PostPosted: Sun 02 Nov, 2008 9:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I read the book, it was rather dry reading, but I gathered some interesting bits from it. If anything, it's good for a collection, it is afterall, sort of the most famous sword book, isn't it?
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Artis Aboltins




PostPosted: Sun 02 Nov, 2008 10:35 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Very interesting read, as others have noted, there are certain things that has become outdated by now, but overall I would say it is well worth the time spent on it. And for those who find more academic books harder to read, it serves as very good introduction to this area of knowledge.
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Douglas S





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PostPosted: Mon 03 Nov, 2008 10:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

For many years, this was THE seminal book on swords. If you're interested in knowing where the old codgers like me get their funny ideas, then read this book. Wink
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Mon 03 Nov, 2008 11:37 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Martin Whalen wrote:
I read the book, it was rather dry reading, but I gathered some interesting bits from it. If anything, it's good for a collection, it is afterall, sort of the most famous sword book, isn't it?


Oakeshott is much less dry than many other books out there on the subject. Happy

Happy

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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Wed 05 Nov, 2008 10:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So what are good books to invest in that are similar to this one?

M.

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Arne Focke
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PostPosted: Thu 06 Nov, 2008 1:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If your german is up to the task, you may try "Beiträge zur morphologischen Entwicklung des Schwertes im Mittelalter" by Alfred Geibig. It is the most actual work out there, although it was published in 1991. Sadly it just covers the 8th up to the 12th century.
For the newest theses on this subject you must search for related articles. There are some very interesting ones by Stefan Mäder. I don't agree with this colleague on every point, but his articles are a worthy read nonetheless.

EDIT:
I just remembered there is a featured article on Geibigs work on myArmoury: http://www.myArmoury.com/feature_geibig.html

So schön und inhaltsreich der Beruf eines Archäologen ist, so hart ist auch seine Arbeit, die keinen Achtstundentag kennt! (Wolfgang Kimmig in: Die Heuneburg an der oberen Donau, Stuttgart 1983)
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