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Jack Savante





Joined: 01 Jun 2010
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Posts: 78

PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2012 2:02 am    Post subject: Byzantine blade typology         Reply with quote

I'm really interested in hearing about what the myArmoury community knows about Byzantine blade typologies. A reasonable amount is known about the hilts of Byzantine swords, because there are images left of them, but not so much about the blade forms of the world's longest lived Empire.

Unfortunately Catholic and Islamic dislike of the Byzantine Empire was so forceful that much of the Byzantine material legacy was intentionally destroyed but there are tantalising glimpses left of the medieval world's great military super power, of a sophisticated war machine so preeminent that victories were routine, but defeats were celebrated in its histories.

Which leads me to an idea which I would love to see clarified by persons with access to the archaeological material - did the Byzantines utilize a predominately western set of blade forms, did they have their own distinct set, or were their blade forms more like those of the Islamic sphere of influence? Byzantines adopted much of the customs of the west (and vice versa) so it's not inconceivable that the Byzantines may have been utilising what was essentially an Oakeshott suite of blade forms.

Timothy Dawson has, to my knowledge, shed more light on Byzantine Army of the period most relevant to this discussion (900-1204AD) than any and has detailed known hilt styles on his excellent website http://www.levantia.com. but he does stop short of giving firm descriptions of blade form except for basic details as the information regarding the subject still needs more research.

Something I'm wanting to know, if my fellow forumites can shed any light on the issue, is whether Byzantines utilised production centres in Germany and Spain to outfit their armies, perhaps owing to having no suitable sites with such excellent ore as Toledo and Solingen for example; or if they were known to produce their own?

Below are some interesting items from the Byzantine world that show what their swords might have been like, I'd be really interested to hear useful comments on them.

http://www.paradoxplace.com/Books/Covers%20Im...BAR450.jpg

http://www.levantia.com.au/military/pictures/hilts.jpg

There are a few issues muddying the waters however, not least of which is the post Byzantine fondness of the Greek speaking world depicting Ikons in the Byzantine fashion. I suppose the biggest give away for these Ikons, lovely though they are, is that the Byzantine warriors in them do not wear klibanion of lamellar but instead wear armour that looks stylized rather than realistic.

The other is classical Atticism which is where Byzantines transposed the ancient Roman 'look' to their own depictions of themselves, these I suppose are easier to separate from relevant images, and may contain relevant information as well.
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Jack Savante





Joined: 01 Jun 2010
Likes: 1 page

Posts: 78

PostPosted: Mon 17 Dec, 2012 3:52 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

*Timothy Dawson's website is www.levantia.com.au
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Viktor Chudinov




Location: Varna, Bulgaria
Joined: 25 Dec 2008

Posts: 33

PostPosted: Thu 20 Dec, 2012 12:02 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

To my experience, in the later empire (12-15th century) the swords were of western types. There are numerous finds and images that correspond to different Oakeshott types ( XII and XVI seem to be most common), but there are also many finds that have atypical blades...
I wonder...do deaf schizophrenics hear voices...
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