Second Falcata finished
Recently I finished the second of the falcata blades that I started forging last summer. Mark at Ollin Sword Design ground the blade and put in the fullers/channels for me. This is the slightly smaller mate to the crane head falcata that I finished back in December. With this one I went with the direction of a crow or raven head. The grip is buffalo horn and each side is three sections puzzle pieced together. The horn has some white streaks that I tried to layout to follow the handle shape and maybe hint at feathers. The head sections on each side then have more transparent bands that give it a bit of depth. This probably could have been brought out more with a higher gloss finish, but I wanted to avoid that high gloss plastic look that horn can sometimes develop. This sword has a new home and will ship off soon, but I will be keeping the crane for myself.

22 1/8" overall length
17" blade length
2 1/8" wide at the base
3/8" thick stock
weight 2 lbs.

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I have been forging more in the mornings to warm the shop. Mostly I have been working on making sockets for spear and javelin points. These first ones are rough, but I will use them as practice throwing spears. Once I get better I hope to make a couple of nicer javelin points that can be used as La Tene period examples.

The next few days I'll be starting to mount a double fullered La Tene III. Following that then I will be starting a xiphos project. Soon I also hope to be able to test out some bronze casters and will be sending out some spear heads and fittings.

Those look really nice Shane. Mark had mentioned that you had some falcata's that he thought were nice in production when I spoke with him Sunday. He was right. I am looking forwards to seeing what you do with the La Tene piece. I have admired your work on your website.

Really nice work Shane, as always!

But, erm, is buffalo horn period correct? ;)
I tried looking into the horn being traded and used at this time in Europe and around the Mediterranean. Like most of the little specifics that we sometimes love, I wasn't able to find any kind of indepth study. Would think that there would be a variety of types and colors though.

Then we also know that perserving technics from this time of horn, bone, and such were things which would turn them dark green, brown, and black. What I really wanted to use for this grip was bone with one of these technics done to turn it black so that any carved details would show the white bone from underneath. My attempts show that because of natural features in organics like this, that getting consistant even results that modern eyes like to see just wasn't possible.

Finally there is also the issue of finding any useable horn that isn't water buffalo horn.

I also used epoxy... not period It allows for the same look, but more comfort of mind. A period grip might not have had a working live of more than a couple of years. Most collectors today would probably not like to have swords rehilted if they don't have to though.

Think that I've said all that I'm going to say.... it really doesn't matter.

Maybe, maybe not. Buffalo horn isn't necessarily ahistorical -- while the American Bison was of course unknown, there were similar critters in parts the ancient Iberians were familiar with. For instance, the Eurasian Wisent, a close cousin to the American Bison, roamed most of Europe at one time before becoming almost entirely extinct (lke the American Bison, they survived in domestic herds, being reintroduced into the wild in the 20th century). Another possibility is the Auroch, an extinct "monster cow" that was quite common in western Europe in Roman times. Although, Aurochs were actually wild cattle and not really buffalo -- then again, Bison aren't really buffalo either, if you want to get technical about it.
It's also not too much a stretch to imagine that African Buffalo (AKA Cape Buffalo) would have made it into Europe via trade (or, at least their horns).....
Shane, I think with a project like this, the choice of materials may not be the best basis of evaluation of success.
It is not like you have home made bloomery steel in the blade, or that you were forging the blades sitting on an earthen floor illuminated by oil lamps with a slave or servant at your side ready to replenish the charcoal or pump the bellows (or bring a fresh drink should you need it).

With any project where we make practical studies of past times there is a focus of intention and interest. This puts a limit to what we can and will work with. Outside this focus, there will of course be deviations from what can be seen in originals and gaps in what we may imagine originals were like. This is a limitation that applies to to all work done today: we are bound to miss out on aspects that are present in the originals. There is just so much to observe. There is always more to see outside our field of vision.

I donīt get the impression that your main focus in this falcata project was to study ancient manufacturing techniques, or materials? To me it seems you were interested in shape, type and function.

Are you going to be making more falcata studies? I am curious to learn what you think you learned through this work? What elements do you think you will keep in your next experiment? What would you do differently?

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