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Seth M. Borland




Location: Millbrook Alabama
Joined: 29 Jun 2007

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 7:48 pm    Post subject: do any roman sword hilts survive?         Reply with quote

i'd like to know if there are any grips from roman swords like the gladius and spatha. All the historical examples I've seen have no hilts of grips of any kind, and I'm wondering if we can even determine accurate shape and material details from the depictions in reliefs and carvings, i mean come on, how can a vague stone representation tell us that a gladius had a grip of ivory and a hilt of wood in the shape most repros have made them?

just wondering. thanks in advance for your help.

Seth
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Jim McDougall




Location: U.S.
Joined: 05 Apr 2004

Posts: 30

PostPosted: Fri 09 May, 2008 8:35 pm    Post subject: Re: do any roman sword hilts survive?         Reply with quote

Seth M. Borland wrote:
i'd like to know if there are any grips from roman swords like the gladius and spatha. All the historical examples I've seen have no hilts of grips of any kind, and I'm wondering if we can even determine accurate shape and material details from the depictions in reliefs and carvings, i mean come on, how can a vague stone representation tell us that a gladius had a grip of ivory and a hilt of wood in the shape most repros have made them?

just wondering. thanks in advance for your help.

Seth



Good question. Relying on iconography for accurate representation can be risky but seems reliable as far as the blades, which of course there are excavated examples. That would suggest that the hilt shapes were likely relatively accurate as well. I think likely that contemporary narratives might be sources as far as materials used. In his "Book of the Sword", Burton refers to Ovid's legend of Theseus (p.257) and attention to such details are noted, "...his father Aegeus was known by the carving on his ivory capulus ".
The capulus was a typically metal pommel, but since this one was uniquely carved, it is mentioned by material in this narrative, and I'm sure other instances would be known by those who study in this field.

In Burton , on the same page it is noted that the common grips were wood, but richer ones bone, ivory, amber, alabaster, silver and gold. As well versed as he was in classical literature, as well as the languages, it seems his perspective would be reliable.

I'd be interested in knowing if any examples are known also, but in the meantime, hopefully those creating reproductions are using such sources for thier work.
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Derek Wassom




Location: Fribourg, Switzerland
Joined: 25 Feb 2004

Posts: 96

PostPosted: Sat 10 May, 2008 3:56 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm not sure where this picture came from, but I believe it is an Ivory hilt.


 Attachment: 90.29 KB
09140052.jpg


Regards,
Derek Wassom
Luegisland Scholar
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Derek Wassom




Location: Fribourg, Switzerland
Joined: 25 Feb 2004

Posts: 96

PostPosted: Sat 10 May, 2008 3:59 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

...and if I had bothered to read the description I would know it was Ivory. Blush [/u]
Regards,
Derek Wassom
Luegisland Scholar
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B. Fulton





Joined: 28 Dec 2004

Posts: 180

PostPosted: Sat 10 May, 2008 5:24 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The British Museum had surviving bits and pieces of Roman swords. I'm fairly sure I have one with the hilt intact or mostly so. I'll check my Flickr account and see, and post the pic if I do.
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B. Fulton





Joined: 28 Dec 2004

Posts: 180

PostPosted: Sat 10 May, 2008 5:27 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

http://farm4.static.flickr.com/3143/2429593650_07243c48ce.jpg?v=0

Here's a wider shot of all the right gear on a legionaire, with hilt and most of the sheath of a gladius intact.



Here is the hilt of the pugio intact as well.

http://farm3.static.flickr.com/2420/2429600056_369643ae45.jpg?v=0
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Darrin Hughes




Location: England
Joined: 22 Jun 2007
Reading list: 20 books

Posts: 228

PostPosted: Sat 10 May, 2008 7:03 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello Seth.

Have a look at www.romancoins.info
In the military equipment section there's all sorts of good stuff, including museum shots of bone, ivory, and wooden grips/hilts.

Cheers,
Darrin.
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Matthew Amt




Location: Laurel, MD, USA
Joined: 17 Sep 2003

Posts: 1,373

PostPosted: Sun 11 May, 2008 11:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Avete!

Yes, numerous gladius and spatha hilt parts survive. Grips tend to be bone, generally cow foot bone but also a few horse and I think one or two deer bones. A few wooden grips are also known. Pommels and guards seem to have been wood most often, though they are also known in bone. Of course, ivory was used for any of those parts, though that would be "top of the line" and much less common. Here's a page of black and white drawings from Bishop and Coulston's "Roman Military Equipment" which shows a good sample of hilt parts:

http://romanmilitaryequipment.co.uk/figures.htm

Artwork is still useful because it shows us how the parts went together. It also makes it clear that there was no leather or cord wrapping over the grip (which is quite comfortable and solid just as it is).

There are certainly lots of things we don't know about Roman stuff, but we're pretty lucky with sword parts!

Valete,

Matthew
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James Barker




Location: Ashburn VA
Joined: 20 Apr 2005

Posts: 365

PostPosted: Mon 12 May, 2008 6:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

If you go to the Roman Army Talk forum and do a search you will find tons of info.
James Barker
Historic Life http://www.historiclife.com/index.html
Archer in La Belle Compagnie http://www.labelle.org/
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Seth M. Borland




Location: Millbrook Alabama
Joined: 29 Jun 2007

Posts: 15

PostPosted: Wed 14 May, 2008 2:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

WOW! Thanks for all the great posts guys. I really appreciate it!

Im so suprized at all the variety within the gladius hilt design; most of the designs I have just seen for the first time. I'd like to know more about this soon.

Once again, thanks everyone Happy

Seth
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