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James C

Joined: 21 Jul 2014

Posts: 3

PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2015 12:07 pm    Post subject: Geibig Sword Typology and Disc/Wheel Pommels         Reply with quote

Like many people I have been impressed with the breadth and depth of Alfred Geibig's sword typologies. I particularly appreciated that not only are the blade types detailed in exquisite fashion but they are matched to the various styles of pommel to give an astoundingly accurate impression of the medieval sword.

However I was struck by the seeming omission of disc/wheel pommels from the typology and catalogue. It seems strange that they should be absent when disc pommels are so well represented not only in the artwork but also in the archaeological record as can be seen in the works of Oakeshott and Pierce. I am aware of a number of disc pommelled swords that fall within the date range covered by Geibig and several (Oakeshott's XII.13 and XIIIa.13 spring to mind) found and held in his area of study.

I'll admit that my interest is partly academic curiosity but also driven by the desire to own a reproduction sword that conforms to Geibig's types: and on an aesthetic level I prefer the disc pommel to the C12th styles of his type 12, 15 and 16 pommels.

I suppose then my questions are threefold:

1. Has there been any published work that covers the interaction between disc pommels and Geibig's typologies, and if not does anyone have any thoughts on the matter?
2. Considering the popularity of disc pommels throughout Europe and Germany's status as one of the centres of sword production is there a reason beyond quirk of fate that they are not represented in Geibig's catalogue?
3. Is there a more precise method for obtaining a disc-pommelled sword that conforms to Geibig's typology than eyeballing it and slapping a disc pommel on a suitable C11-12th blade type?
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Jeffrey Faulk

Location: Georgia
Joined: 01 Jan 2011

Posts: 578

PostPosted: Wed 23 Sep, 2015 2:41 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The simple answer to your query is that Geibig actually doesn't deal with the majority of medieval swords. He's dealing with late Migration Period through early medieval-- basically the 'Viking Age' if you want to call it that, or the 'Carolingian' period. Wikipedia says his work is focusing on 8th through 12th centuries (700's through 1100's). Disc pommels are a little more 'High Medieval' (generally roughly late 1000's through 1300's... but that and two bucks will buy you a cup of coffee, for whatever that's worth).

Generally Oakeshott is considered to have covered most of the basic medieval sword forms and pommel types, with others such as Mortimer Wheeler and Jan Petersen covering variations on this (Petersen, in particular, typed the Viking swords). There are also many lesser known typologies from eastern Europe such as Alexander Ruttkay, Marian Glosek, Kirpichinikov and so forth.

Some evidence does exist that disc pommels were used as far back as the Viking period; Oakeshott mentions at least one disc-pommelled sword with runes, from what I vaguely recall. I could certainly be wrong there though.

I'm not familiar with the specifics of how the Geibig typology came about; if it was a scholarly work like many of the other typologies, it's possible that Geibig may have been trying to avoid repeating others' work that included disc pommels, notably Oakeshott's even though Oakeshott was careful to define himself as an enthusiastic amateur rather than a scholar.
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