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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Oct, 2010 10:22 am    Post subject: Roman Vs Migration Hilt?         Reply with quote

There has been alot of talk lately about late Roman / early migration period swords (which I'm loving by the way), so I thought now would be a good time to ask something that's been bothering me for awhile.

On Patrick Barta's site there is a sword said to be a 3rd century, Roman sword, found in Podlodow, Poland, which can be seen here
http://www.templ.net/english/weapons-antiquit...oman_sword

Now AFAIK Rome never occupied Poland so it is unlikely that this sword belonged to a Roman soldier, it may however have been owned by an auxilary or simply have been traded, or stolen. Who this sword belonged to is not what I would like to know. What I like to know is, although the blade is clearly of Roman manufacture, I have not seen a hilt like this before on a sword that was definately used by a soldier in the Roman army. So do you think that this a fully Roman design, or is this another example of a Roman sword being re-hilted to suit foreign tastes?

Éirinn go Brách
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Till J. Lodemann





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PostPosted: Mon 18 Oct, 2010 2:40 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think it is a roman design.
Biborski states that this Type (Buch-Podlodów) of blade appears in the roman provinces of Britannia, Gallia Lugdunensis, Germania Superior Noricum and Pannonia. It is also found in the regions of the protovandalic Przeworsk culture in Poland. The tangs can be tboth long and short and both variants are found in the entire area of distribution.

I think the "new" H-shaped hilt design is not completely new, it developed from the classical roman hilts with globular pommel and semiglobular guard. The pommel and guard became gradually flatter until it was the H shaped hilt..
This configuration is simply more practical for the new types of slashing swords. The globular design on the other hand is better for stabbing.
The older hilt design was still in use until the beginning of the 5th century afaik.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 18 Oct, 2010 3:57 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Till J. Lodemann wrote:
I think it is a roman design.
Biborski states that this Type (Buch-Podlodów) of blade appears in the roman provinces of Britannia, Gallia Lugdunensis, Germania Superior Noricum and Pannonia. It is also found in the regions of the protovandalic Przeworsk culture in Poland. The tangs can be tboth long and short and both variants are found in the entire area of distribution.


Thanks Till, this is very helpful.

Till J. Lodemann wrote:
I think the "new" H-shaped hilt design is not completely new, it developed from the classical roman hilts with globular pommel and semiglobular guard. The pommel and guard became gradually flatter until it was the H shaped hilt..
This configuration is simply more practical for the new types of slashing swords. The globular design on the other hand is better for stabbing.
The older hilt design was still in use until the beginning of the 5th century afaik.


I've always suspected this to be the case about this hilt type, but I was looking for others opinions, I'm still open to other ideas though so if anyone has one I'd love to here it.

Éirinn go Brách
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Oct, 2010 8:25 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Till J. Lodemann wrote:
I think it is a roman design.
Biborski states that this Type (Buch-Podlodów) of blade appears in the roman provinces of Britannia, Gallia Lugdunensis, Germania Superior Noricum and Pannonia. It is also found in the regions of the protovandalic Przeworsk culture in Poland. The tangs can be tboth long and short and both variants are found in the entire area of distribution.

I think the "new" H-shaped hilt design is not completely new, it developed from the classical roman hilts with globular pommel and semiglobular guard. The pommel and guard became gradually flatter until it was the H shaped hilt..
This configuration is simply more practical for the new types of slashing swords. The globular design on the other hand is better for stabbing.
The older hilt design was still in use until the beginning of the 5th century afaik.


That's really interesting!

In principle, I think that the hilt design Patrick Barta used in his Podlodow sword is not so different as this hilt from Nydam:


If this hilt was indeed commonly associated with the short-tanged Buch-Podlodów type swords, then it would have been a small step to early migration age swords. It seems that the golden hilts are a Hunnish influence, so that would make the Germanic gold hilted spatha a Roman - Hunnish mix. I guess that's appropriate for the time. Happy

The blades, however, is a different question.

The "typical" blade associated with migration age swords is basically a variant of Oakeshott's type X: wide blade, wide and shallow fuller, rounded point with lenticular cross-section.

However, it seems that quite a few migration age swords from the 5th C actually have a blade with a lenticular cross-section without a fuller, possibly under Hunnish influence. Other, earlier, swords, such as the ones from Nydam, have multiple fullers or grooves, possibly under Roman influence. Other than Behmer, I have not yet seen a study who tried to categorise and date these different blade geometries.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Oct, 2010 9:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

In the past couple of years I've seen a lot of speculation online, about where exactly migration period swords came from, whether it be celtic, roman, gothic, hunnic, sarmatian, or what ever combination of the above. It is a pretty much given and I could always see some sort of progression from celtic long sword, to roman spatha, to migration period sword, but in the last couple of days my I can see this progression a lot more clearly, and I have you guys to thank for that. The one thing that still illudes me is, as Paul pointed out, where did the blades with a single broad fuller come from? At the moment I think that they just developed naturally out of a period in time when alot of experimenting was going on with different blade types e.g. swords with two three or even five fullers, sometimes with a different number on either side of the blade. While on the subject has anyone seen an example of a sword with double fullers on one side and a quadruple fullers on the other, just curious.
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Till J. Lodemann





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PostPosted: Tue 19 Oct, 2010 11:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think there are some in Illerup Ådal, but I have lent my copy of Illerup "Ådal, a magic mirror" and can't make sure of this.
Generally the types Podlodów, Lauriacum-Hromowka and type Woerden-Bjärs after Biborski are known to sometimes have different numbers of fullers on each side, like the one from Patrick Bartá you posted.
They are generally dated to the beginning and the later first half of the 3rd century and can be found all over Europe.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Oct, 2010 12:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As Illerup Adal was mentioned, it got me thinking. Now that we've established that the H shaped hilts were used (along side the older type) by the Romans, do you think that the bronze(?) rings on the hilt of the Barta sword were a Roman feature or were they added by smith from outside the empire? What got me thinking about this is that, the decoration on the hilts of Illerup Adal, are most likely a germanic modification, but what of the metal ring on the Barta sword hilt? Are there other example of Roman swords with metal rings like this one? No more questions after this one I promise ;-)
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T Franks




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PostPosted: Tue 19 Oct, 2010 1:55 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Really nice sword. I like Patrick's work. I've never handled one of his blades but they sure look visually/aesthetically appealing. If I could have any sword right now it would be one of patrick's La tene swords or one of Shane's from Iron Age Armoury. I just need to remain fiscally responsible for the time being Mad
"I would rather be first in a small village in Gaul than second in command in Rome." - Julius Caesar
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Jeroen Zuiderwijk
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PostPosted: Wed 20 Oct, 2010 12:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Before any speculations on the origins of the sword Partrick reproduced, you have to know first which parts of the sword are actually based on the original find. On quite a lot of swords, Patrick combines hilts and blades from different finds (due to no blade or hardly a blade being present, or simply by request of the person who ordered it). The blade looks a lot to me like one found in Denmark from the early 3rd century (blade with earliest torsion damast, which includes the same or similar inlays). I'm not sure, but it's possible he copied that blade instead.

Secondly, also keep in mind that surrounding cultures were often very much "Roman-like", including dress, artifacts, weapons etc. That doesn't mean that this was because they were continuously copying everything from the Romans. The Romans and surrounding cultures developed similar styles by influencing eachother back and forwards in very small steps. The same mistake is often made in the Viking period, calling Frankish swords Viking, which they weren't, but just happened to be very similar (down to the same typology in modern archeology).

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Till J. Lodemann





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PostPosted: Thu 21 Oct, 2010 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
As Illerup Adal was mentioned, it got me thinking. Now that we've established that the H shaped hilts were used (along side the older type) by the Romans, do you think that the bronze(?) rings on the hilt of the Barta sword were a Roman feature or were they added by smith from outside the empire? What got me thinking about this is that, the decoration on the hilts of Illerup Adal, are most likely a germanic modification, but what of the metal ring on the Barta sword hilt? Are there other example of Roman swords with metal rings like this one?


If you ask about the origin of metal fittings on the hilt, I can tell you that they derive from celtic swords most likely.
But if you ask whether this was a roman design or a germanic one, at this period of time, I cannot answer definitely. The whole thing simply got too mixed up to define whether it is roman or germanic. The hilt could surely be made in a roman workshop. But it with the same likelihood it could be made in a workshop in Zealand or South Norway or Masovia.


Jeroen, you're certainly right. Patrick Bartá does mostly make not pure reproductions of certain swords, it's not always possible or desired.
And you are also right that this blade looks like one of the Illerup blades. But thats simply because it is the same type. (I wrote somesthing about that earlier here.)

The original sword on which Bartá based this sword is, as he states, the blade from Podlodów, Poland.
I have a drawing of the original before me, it is accurately reproduced by Bartá. The hilt did not survive and was so most certainly made out of organic materials.
The hilt configuration he used is from Illerup, though.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Thu 04 Nov, 2010 5:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I no, I promised no more questions, but it seems I can't help myself :-D so now, we've dealt with the Podlodow sword by Patrick Barta, but what about the Roman Riding Sword?

Mr. Barta refers to this as "Roman", yet the only examples I'm aware of came from Scandinavia. Is there any evidence (archaeological find, sculpture etc.) that swords like this were used in the Roman army?

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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Nov, 2010 5:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Stephen Curtin wrote:
I no, I promised no more questions, but it seems I can't help myself :-D so now, we've dealt with the Podlodow sword by Patrick Barta, but what about the Roman Riding Sword?

Mr. Barta refers to this as "Roman", yet the only examples I'm aware of came from Scandinavia. Is there any evidence (archaeological find, sculpture etc.) that swords like this were used in the Roman army?


Anyone?

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Till J. Lodemann





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PostPosted: Mon 08 Nov, 2010 10:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hm I don't know which one you mean. I remember that one on his side was called like that, but now I can't find it. Maybe it was this one?
http://www.templ.net/pics-weapons/102-sword/a02v.jpg
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Paul Hansen




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Nov, 2010 12:51 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Till J. Lodemann wrote:
Hm I don't know which one you mean. I remember that one on his side was called like that, but now I can't find it. Maybe it was this one?
http://www.templ.net/pics-weapons/102-sword/a02v.jpg

Yes, that's the one.
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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Mon 08 Nov, 2010 12:52 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes that is the one I was talking about. Is there any evidence of hilts like this being used within the roman army, or is it purely a scandinavian design?
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Till J. Lodemann





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PostPosted: Thu 11 Nov, 2010 2:23 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

No easy answe here.
Biborski calls this blade design type Snipstad. It was used in C2, C3 and D1which is 260-400 AD and partly even later into the migration period.
Ususally, this kind of wooden hilt, with the covering of metal sheet (usually silver sheet), which can be found on many swords in Ejsbøl, Nydam and Kragehul, is used either on this kind of blade or on blades of type Nydam-Kragehul.
They normally have a boatshaped pommel like the one below.
Almost all of them were found in Scandinavia. But there are some notable exceptions. One was found in the roman border ford Vechten in the Netherlands and one very ornate example with a silver sheet covered hilt was found in Silistra, Bulgaria in a roman officers tomb.
Typologically, the hiltdesign is similar to the hilt of the Buch-Podlodów blade we discussed earlier. So one could argue that the design is congruent with roman lines of design. The metal covering of the hilt, on the other hand is more usual on germanic swords. Or at least it is mostly found in southern scandinavian bogfinds.
But there is also evidence from many of the more precious pieces in these finds that the craftsmen were probably roman artisans which worked for the germanics.
It is difficult to be sure here.
But the short answer is yes, they were used in the roman army. Maybe also yes, they were designed in Scandinavia, but it is not purely a scandinavian design.

I also need to look into Miks' book again. I only read it once prior to pressing and thats some time ago now. Worried



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Stephen Curtin




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PostPosted: Sat 26 Feb, 2011 2:12 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Ok so I think its time to resurrect this thread with a few questions. We have established above that the podlodow type blade saw wide distribution across europe (both long and short tanged versions) in the 3rd century, so does anyone have any figures or percentage of how many long tanged vs short tanged podlodow type blades were found, and, how long were these types in use? How long did the classic, sphereical, style of hilt remain in use among the roman army, was it still the "standard issue" style of hilt used in the 5th century, if not, do we know what was? Thanks in advance.
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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Sun 04 Mar, 2012 12:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I was looking for pictures of the Spatha from Durostorum, but I found this Roman Sarcophagus instead (scroll down to p.168 for sword detail) http://www.doiserbia.nb.rs/ft.aspx?id=0350-02410858163P The coins that were found at the site were late 4thc.

Also, this looked interesting http://www.tforum.info/forum/index.php?autoco...;img=13625 A small almost round pommel with a thin lower guard. Don't know when this would fit in, or if it's authentic.

By the way, does anyone have any pictures of the Durostorum spatha, It's the one from bulgaria that Till mentioned.
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Matthew Bunker




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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2012 1:43 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Len Parker wrote:

By the way, does anyone have any pictures of the Durostorum spatha, It's the one from bulgaria that Till mentioned.


I've only seen the line drawings contained in the paper "The Encrusted Spatha from Durostorum":-

http://eprints.nbu.bg/140/1/the_spatha_from_Durostorum.pdf

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Len Parker





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PostPosted: Mon 05 Mar, 2012 5:34 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Matthew, I had seen the line drawing and thought there might be a photograph somewhere.
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