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Encho Yakovchev




PostPosted: Sat 24 Mar, 2012 11:03 am    Post subject: Unusual artifacts?         Reply with quote

I've been going through some pictures of artifacts and two of them grabbed my attention: one arrowhead and small spearhead. So I thought they could make for an interesting discussion. Idea

The arrowhead seemed quite unusual because of it's long socket (the overall length must be around 100 mm). I've seen something similar in the Royal Armouries (Leeds), but even there the socket wasn't as long. Google managed to find one almost identical to this, described as "Medieval/Byzantine Europe, 8th-10th century AD. Long iron swallow-tail javelin point" (http://www.ancientresource.com/lots/medieval_...armor.html). Somehow it looks a little too small for javelin, but the long socket doesn't make much sense for an arrowhead... Could it be a hunting weapon? Any thoughts?

The spearhead (300mm long if I can recall correctly) is something I've never seen before - it seems like the edge was fitted (forge welded?) between two plates, used to make the socket. I can't see any advantages of using this method, but then what do I know about forging? Confused Has anyone seen anything similar to that?



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Spearhead

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Arrowhead (or javelin?) [ Download ]
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Sat 24 Mar, 2012 11:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

As for the barbed head, to me it does not seem too small for a javelin head, I routinely throw javelins with heads about that size or smaller. Such a head would be quite usable as a hunting weapon, but could be equally usable on the battle field. It kind of reminds me of a small angon head. Then again, some ancient and medieval arrowheads were quite huge, and it can be impossible to distinguish whether a head was for a javelin or an arrow. As to the larger spearhead, it would be interesting to know if it was made by a forge-welded sandwich construction. To me, the shape of the spearhead does not necessarily indicate such a construction. It could just as easily be of one-piece construction. I have made a few arrow and spear heads that look almost exactly like that one. These were not attempts at copying any particular historical design but were experiments in making an easily constructed, effective head. Basically, I forged a fairly thick blade portion, then filed down the outer thirds to form thin cutting edges, leaving a thicker, rectangular section midrib. On some of these, I then filed the mid-rib to a more rounded shape, but this took quite a bit of extra work. So maybe the smith who made the spearhead that you posted just didn't feel it was worthwhile to spend the extra time forging or filing the midrib to a more refined shape.
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Encho Yakovchev




PostPosted: Mon 26 Mar, 2012 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks for the feedback, Scott.
What made me think the javelin could actually be an arrowhead was also the small ID of the socket. Could a javelin with a thin shaft be comfortable enough to use? (unfortunately I've never held one!)

Regarding the spearhead, I always thought a flattened diamond cross-section would be much easier to achieve (either by file or hammer) and will give more rigidity to the blade. I miserably failed in trying to find another example, similar to the one I posted.
As a matter of fact, I hope I will be able to see this one up close one day. I'm quite sure I will not be able to tell if it was forge-welded or not, though.
Any idea what could have caused the silver "stains" on the blade?
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 26 Mar, 2012 11:16 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hard to get a sense of the scale, but I would second the guess about the barbed head being for a javelin/dart/lancegay, which are invariably depicted with barbed heads in the artwork of the period.
-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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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 26 Mar, 2012 11:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And European javelins of the 15th c. were not the robust weapons we associate with the ancient Romans. Those shown in Froissart really do look like up-scaled arrows. Check lower right in the first image, center-left and crow's nests in the second.

FWIW I tried to use swallowtail broadheads from Historic Enterprises for some darts but I feared that the socket is just a bit too small for that. If it extended even another inch and broadened accordingly I think it would be excellent, though probably still just a bit smaller than historical examples (judging only by artwork).



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-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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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Mon 26 Mar, 2012 11:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

PS: I would judge the hafts shown above to be around .75". Compare it to the thickness of the polearm haft to the left and below the dart, and to the longbow arrows in the second image above. The artist shows the dart as being not noticeably thicker than the arrows. Given the usage shown here--as both a close range spear and projectile (from topmast)--I would guess it was somewhere between the arrow and polearm.

The later fletched Irish cermonial dart ("gae") I saw in a Cork city museum many years ago had a barelled haft (fat in the middle and narrow at the ends,) which was typical of many arrows and bolts in the medieval period. Factor that distal narrowing into your calculation of the size haft that would match the head in question.

-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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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Tue 27 Mar, 2012 7:24 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Encho, with a given amount of material, a rectangular section midrib with thin edge sections will actually be stiffer than a diamond section. Having made heads using both sections, I would say that it is more or less a toss-up which one is more labor-intensive. Also, what is the ID of the socket of the smaller head? My large javelin is less than .75 inches in diameter, smaller ones are in the range of .35-.5 inches in diameter.

Thanks Sean for posting the pics from Froissarts. It seems that all the swallow-tail javelin heads that I have seen are either Byzantine/Mediterranian or Middle-east/Central Asian. Do you know of any preserved javelin heads from medieval/renaissance Europe? Shouldn't there have been some on the Mary Rose?
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Encho Yakovchev




PostPosted: Tue 03 Apr, 2012 4:30 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Scott, Sean, thanks for the input.
I got it touch with the owner of the arrow/javelin head - the socket ID is 8-9mm (I'm guessing there is some deformation due to corrosion). That's just below .35 inches and still makes it likely to be a javelin after all, right?
It was quite interesting that although can't be seen on the picture, the end of the socket, just before the head has the same twist (ornamental or functional?) as the one on the link I posted above. It seems like it's identical to the Byzantine javelin head in every way.

Regarding the spearhead - Scott, thanks again for the information. I always believed that nothing beats experience.
Can you think of other similar spearheads, found in Europe (or anywhere else for that matter)? Also do you have any idea what could have caused the silver spots on the blade?
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Scott Woodruff





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PostPosted: Tue 03 Apr, 2012 8:05 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Encho, at 8-9mm, I would say that the smaller head is right at the cusp, so it could easily be either a large arrowhead or a small javelin. I do not remember ever seeing a spearhead quite like the one you showed, that is why I was so excited to see it. As to the silver spots on the blade, it is pretty much impossible to tell from a photo. If the spots are indeed silver in color, they could be due to the re-deposition of silver or tin. I am not very knowledgeable about how this happens, but apparently during corrossion of non-ferrous metals, some of the metal can be dissolved by water and re-deposited elsewhere.
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