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Zach Gordon




Location: Vermont. USA
Joined: 07 Oct 2008

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PostPosted: Thu 30 Jul, 2009 11:29 pm    Post subject: Gladius         Reply with quote

Hi y'all,
how were most gladius's made? Where they just steel, iron with a welded on edge, patern welded, piled, or something else? I am mostly interested in the Mainz style gladius. I just got one of the older MRL ones and was wondering how to make it more historicaly accurate, I am thinking about etching it kinda like that one guy did in another topic, but I was wondering first how most blades actually were made.
Thnx
Z Razz
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Sean Flynt
myArmoury Team


myArmoury Team

Location: Birmingham, Alabama
Joined: 21 Aug 2003
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PostPosted: Fri 31 Jul, 2009 6:35 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

See the Legio XX site for all things gladii, including this excellent page of DIY information:

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

-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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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,402

PostPosted: Fri 31 Jul, 2009 6:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the plug, Sean! There was a LOT of variation in gladius blades, though I'm not certain which construction techniques were most common to the Mainz style. In general, some were definitely made with steel edges welded to iron cores, while others were more homogenous. I've seen references to "piled" cores, but I don't know know just how close that comes to "pattern welding" in the first centuries BC/AD.

There's a brief section on metallurgy in Bishop and Coulston's "Roman Military Equipment" which shows a few cross-section drawings. A couple have applied edges. One looks like homogenous mild steel. One is a harder skin over a softer inner section (more likely hammer hardening than heat treatment, but I don't think it specifies), while another looks like a hard core with softer metal outside! Oops... Again, it may not say in detail which of those are Mainz as opposed to Pompeii or something else, since the chapter is more about metallurgy in general.

With piled cores or pattern welding, I honestly don't know if there is any evidence for the Romans etching to bring out the pattern. My gut reaction is that they just polished the blade overall and left it at that, but there's darn little to back that up, either. There are a few blades (particularly later) that have brass inlays near the hilt (eagles, gods, etc.)., so that implies to me that if they wanted decoration they added it. But like I said, that's just a gut feeling.

One important thing is to not make the blade too *nice*. Banged-out and slightly crooked and asymmetrical is perfect!

Vale,

Matthew
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Ken B





Joined: 01 Aug 2009

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sat 01 Aug, 2009 8:22 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Totally off topic, but noteworthy. Gladius in latin literally translates to: sword, murder, death. It didn't specifically apply to a make or manufacture of sword on conception i think that Romans likely didnt refer to it their swords as Gladius and other swords by something else. Another funny note Gladiator literally translates to ruffian or assassin.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,402

PostPosted: Sun 02 Aug, 2009 8:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You're right that to the Romans the word gladius basically just meant "sword", and "gladiator" is "swordsman". I hadn't heard the other definitions before, though--could they be more poetic or metaphorical? Like putting a town to the sword. Since the first gladiatorial combats were performed as part of funeral ceremonies, I kind of doubt that there would have been much of "assassin" or "ruffian" in the meaning of the word, to the Romans. But I'd love to see where you got those alternate definitions from.

Vale,

Matthew
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Ken B





Joined: 01 Aug 2009

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Sun 02 Aug, 2009 9:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thats very possible that they have been influenced by modern usage to some degree, but i believe them to be for the most part accurate. I got those definitions from The New College Latin And English Dictionary John C Truman PH.D.
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