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Forum Index > Historical Arms Talk > Thracian Rhomphaia Swords Reply to topic
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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Fri 30 Apr, 2004 2:10 pm    Post subject: Thracian Rhomphaia Swords         Reply with quote

Dear Friends,

I have adapted the text of this email from an email I sent to Steven Peffley who commissioned Mark Morrow to create a Falx for him to his specifications.

I have sent an email to Mark Morrow who created a Falx, asking if he would be interested in duplicating my sword. It would be an interesting project. I also have a swordsmith friend in the Southwest who is a metallurgist by trade and has published several books. He has agreed to coauthor a study, he will do the metallurgical work and I will do the historical and bibliographical. Your suggestions would be appreciated as this will become the only English language work that will actually show photographs of these swords.

The size of this sword is amazing, just trying to take pictures of it required many attempts to get it in full 65.5" perspective:
The yardstick gives some idea as to the size. This sword would indeed have to be carried like a rifle when marching, there is no way to have a scabbard for such a weapon that would be comfortable for use. The central index finger stop is quite interesting:

It gives proof that the full length of the sword shank was not encased, the 20" shank bar is quite robust and would have had just as much a smooth finish as can be seen in the finger guard area:
While both the Rhomphaia and Falx swords are meant to be wielded with two hands, in the Rhomphaia the hilt end of the sword would provide only the 4" grip with two thin .25" placques that would have been held with two rivets:

The size difference between the long one and the shorter one is striking when they are laid next to each other, note that the longer sword blade curves inward and the blade curves outward on the shorter one but the shank bars and grip are the same size to within a half inch, a strong indication that they were wielded in the same way with either size blade, note that on the shorter sword there is a finger stop at the grip, three fingers would have held the grip while the index finger would have been on the shank separated from the others by the stop:

The third piece is more problematic, it also comes from Bulgaria and I purchased it on an eBay auction, but it came with a wrong identification, I thought it was a billhook, but when it was received I thought it might be a Falx, the only way to get a feel for it would be to have it mounted with a shaft similar to the ones illustrated on Trajan's column. I described this to Mark Morrow in an email yesterday, which I will forward to you after I complete this email. Note that this piece is very robust, much more so than the Rhomphaias. It would easily take the shock of crushing a shield or severing a limb. Your comments would be appreciated:

I am copying this email to my friends on my Antiquities mailing list with an archived copy going to the AncientWeapons Yahoo Group which I moderate. Members of that group who will receive this email will have to go to the Photo archive to see the photos embedded and attached to this email, I do both because some of my friends cannot get embedded emails.

As I may have the only examples of these swords outside of the Balkans, I would like to thank my increasingly good friend Plamen Arsoff, Ancient_Treasures on eBay, for obtaining these Rhomphaia swords for me, at reasonable prices and with proper identification.

I would appreciate any additional information that any of my friends could contribute to these studies. I would like to know if anyone has an argument with any of my descriptions and inferences, especially on the possible Falx.



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I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Fri 30 Apr, 2004 2:14 pm    Post subject: Thracian Rhomphaia Swords         Reply with quote

Two Rhomphaias together.


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I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Fri 30 Apr, 2004 2:17 pm    Post subject: Dacian Falx or bill hook tool for picking fruit and pruning?         Reply with quote

I plan on mounting this piece to see how it works as a Falx sword.


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I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Fri 30 Apr, 2004 2:20 pm    Post subject: Dacian Falx or Bill Hook?         Reply with quote

Roman Metopes from Trajan's Column and other monuments that recount Emperor Trajan's conquest of Dacia. The metopes show Roman soldiers fighting Dacians armed with Falx swords.


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I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Fri 30 Apr, 2004 3:40 pm    Post subject: Dacian Falx Sword or Bill Hook?         Reply with quote

Dear Friends,

I have received a few emails from my friends who own bill hooks, designed for orchard use or cutting roofing thatch that have asked why I think my similar piece might be a falx sword and not just another bill hook.

Here is a bill hook from my collection, note that it has a socket for mounting on a pole. The socket is a bit broken but one rivet hole is intact and the opposite one is half there, this is more like a 60% socket rather than a full socket like you would expect to see on a spear.

This should be considered to be a tool that could, in an emergency, be used as a pole arm. The mounting to a pole would be sufficient for cutting apples from a tree, or dates if you are in the desert. It would be too weak to be mounted effectively to a shaft, it has a 3" socket as opposed to the 7.5" tang on the possible Falx blade. It would easily break off from the shaft if used aggressively to chop rather than to cut.



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I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Sun 02 May, 2004 8:29 am    Post subject: Thracian Weapons         Reply with quote

Dear Friends,

If anyone would like to see my Thracian Sword Collection, go to:
http://photos.groups.yahoo.com/group/ancientw...amp;.view=

If you are not already a member of my AncientWeapons Yahoo Group, you may have to join at:
http://groups.yahoo.com/group/ancientweapons/

I went to the Chicago International Coin Fair yesteday and purchased three swords, among them a Thracian Machaira with an intact iron hilt. Hope you find the photos interesting.



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I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
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Greg Thomas Obach
Industry Professional



Location: Elliot lake
Joined: 17 Dec 2003

Posts: 59

PostPosted: Sun 02 May, 2004 9:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

good post!
I know very little about these swords... but now i'm interested..
the very first falx looks like it has a T-spine..?... is that typical
what are the blade dims and cross section of those first two

is it possible the mid handle was wrapped with cord or leather...

thank you
Greg
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John Piscopo




Location: LaGrange, IL 60525 SW of Chicago
Joined: 26 Jan 2004

Spotlight topics: 3
Posts: 112

PostPosted: Sun 02 May, 2004 10:07 am    Post subject: Thracian swords         Reply with quote

Greg Thomas Obach wrote:
good post!
I know very little about these swords... but now i'm interested..
the very first falx looks like it has a T-spine..?... is that typical
what are the blade dims and cross section of those first two

is it possible the mid handle was wrapped with cord or leather...

thank you
Greg


Dear Greg,

The sword profile of the Rhomphaia is wedge shaped.

I speculated that the finger stop area could have been in a better
state of preservation because of the hand oils that could have
coated or even penetrated to a depth of a few molecules.

Wrapping in cord or leather might have the same effect but it is
again sheer speculation. My experience is that once leather
gets wet it retains the moisture for an extended period of
time, the moisture would be in constant contact with the
leather.

I would be open to additonal speculation in this regard.

I collect swords and bayonets dated WWI back to the Bronze Age from the US and Europe and ancient swords and other weapons from Eurasia. I participate in many historical forums for the study of ancient history and weapons. I am happy to share what expertise I have. John Piscopo
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Kurt Scholz





Joined: 09 Dec 2008

Posts: 390

PostPosted: Tue 09 Dec, 2008 12:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm new to the topic and wonder how much costs such an old sword at ebay?

Greetings Kurt
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Bennison N




Location: Auckland, New Zealand
Joined: 06 Feb 2008
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 416

PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 2:39 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Wow... I hadn't seen this one...

That post of John Piscopo's from Saturday 1st May, 2004...

Don't those first and third pics just sum up Legionary Gladius Hispaniensis use so well?

Sorry... Just felt I had to say that...

"Never give a sword to a man who can't dance" - Confucius

अजयखड्गधारी
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Gavin Kisebach




Location: Lacey, Wa US
Joined: 01 Aug 2004

Spotlight topics: 1
Posts: 650

PostPosted: Wed 10 Dec, 2008 2:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sometimes threadomancy brings up the best stuff...
There are only two kinds of scholars; those who love ideas and those who hate them. ~ Emile Chartier
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James R.Fox




Location: Youngstowm,Ohio
Joined: 29 Feb 2008

Posts: 253

PostPosted: Thu 11 Dec, 2008 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sirs-Not only are the pictures of the falx and rhomphos very good-I have never seen such clear ones-but Trajan's co;umn has such perfect illustrations of the offensive use of the scutum and gladius,
Ja68ms
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