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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Jul, 2009 8:41 am    Post subject: Roman sword hilt construction?         Reply with quote

I'm curious about how exactly the hilt of a gladius or a spatha was actually put together, but my searches won't yield any good results.

Does anyone possess this information or know where I can find instructions?

The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Jul, 2009 10:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Well, assuming you're talking mostly about the first century AD, more or less, my own humble Legio XX site might help:

http://www.larp.com/legioxx/gladius.html

Generally, the hilt consisted of 3 parts: guard, grip, and pommel. Most often the guard and pommel were wood and the grip bone, but all three could be bone and/or ivory, and a few wood grips survive. The guard typically has a thin brass plate set into its face. Like most other swords, the tang ran through all 3 pieces, and was peened over a washer or small brass finial.

Is that what you're looking for? Vale,

Matthew
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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sat 11 Jul, 2009 11:06 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

It's hardly usual or typical, but there is at least one example with a bronze pommel and guard. From a Sotheby's catalogue of December, 2004.


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bronze gladius 1.jpg


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bronze gladius 2.jpg
Pommel

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bronze gladius 3.jpg
Catalogue text

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Anders Backlund




Location: Sweden
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jul, 2009 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

So, these swords were put together pretty much like later medieval European swords, the tang going all the way through the hilt and then peened? Is that about right?
The sword is an ode to the strife of mankind.

"This doesn't look easy... but I bet it is!"
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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jul, 2009 5:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sure seems that way. That tang seems so narrow, too; I wonder if it was like that in its uncorroded state?

M.

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Chad Arnow
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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jul, 2009 6:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

M. Eversberg II wrote:
Sure seems that way. That tang seems so narrow, too; I wonder if it was like that in its uncorroded state?

M.


That's really no narrower than a number of medieval tangs. It can be narrow and still be plenty strong, provided it is thick enough.

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M. Eversberg II




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jul, 2009 6:44 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

My eyes must deceive me, I guess. Seemed rather diminutive.

M.

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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Sun 12 Jul, 2009 7:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

"Rat-tail" tangs were common:

http://s129.photobucket.com/albums/p239/mcbis...fig039.png

The hilt on the right is a complete thin silver sheathing, originally over a wooden core. This illustration is from Bishop and Coulston's "Roman Military Equipment", the drawings from which are available online, put there by Mike Bishop himself:

http://romanmilitaryequipment.co.uk/figures.htm

Valete,

Matthew
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Jean Thibodeau




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PostPosted: Mon 13 Jul, 2009 1:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Chad Arnow wrote:
M. Eversberg II wrote:
Sure seems that way. That tang seems so narrow, too; I wonder if it was like that in its uncorroded state?

M.


That's really no narrower than a number of medieval tangs. It can be narrow and still be plenty strong, provided it is thick enough.


Yeah, with a narrow tang thickness can be important, and if it's substantially thicker than the blade and tapers into the blade shoulders it should be a lot stronger than it looks.

The handle material also add to rigidity over the length of the tang and the most critical point is just at the transition to the blade's shoulders: Stress risers at this point if the corners are cut without at least a small radius or a sudden step down in thickness that happen just at the shoulders would concentrate weakness just at the most stressed point of the handle/blade junction.

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