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David JD Johnson




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PostPosted: Mon 25 May, 2020 10:25 am    Post subject: Early Bronze Age spear         Reply with quote

[img]Hi, everyone, I am new on here.

I am collector of Cypriot antiquities, mostly from the Bronze Age, but continuing into the Geometric and Archaic periods. I have also been studying the Archaeology and history fairly intensively.

I am giving my collection back to a museum in Cyprus gradually (it was almost all probably looted from tombs originally so there is a sort of justice there). I am currently occupied writing a catalogue, with the help of a young Cypriot archaeologist

I have two large spearheads, one from the Early Bronze Age (Philia period up to Early Cypriot II, 2500 - 2100 BC) and the other from the End of the Late Bronze Age (Late Cypriot III 1200-1050 BC)

The older one (38cm long) has a hooked tang with a button on the end. I have heard that it is believed that a hooked tang was inserted into the haft by splitting the end of the haft, inserting the tang into a groove in the wood and then binding the join. However my archaeologist will not allow me to print this unless I can find some authority for it (experimental archaeology is fine). Does anyone know a book or paper I might look at or a person who might help me?

Since before about 1600BC we have no evidence for(or against) shields it is unclear if it would have been used two handed or one handed.

Thanks
David[/img]



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Matthew Amt




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PostPosted: Mon 25 May, 2020 3:49 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Hello and welcome!

Yes, that's the interpretation that I've always heard. In fact, I've never heard anyone suggest otherwise, and there really doesn't seem to be another viable option, so I'm a little curious that your archeologist would object to stating the obvious. Be that as it may, I found a nice page in Yigael Yadin's "The Art of Warfare in Biblical Lands", 1963, vol. I, page 157. Hopefully that's a good enough photo! You'll need something better for publication but it should do for just a citation.

I hope you'll let us know when your catalog is published! We'd all love to see it.

Matthew



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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Mon 25 May, 2020 6:12 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

IMO the button was created after the head was inserted into the shaft. The bent tang was initially pointed and protruded out of the side of the shaft. It was then hammered flat, like a rivet, to help secure it. It might have been done to obviate the need for binding. It also serves as a gauge that tells us the radius of the shaft at that end.

This is what I would write: "Modern experiments suggest that the spear was created by inserting the hooked tang into the shaft by splitting the end of the haft, inserting the tang into a groove in the wood and then binding and/or gluing the join. The 'button' examples involve an extra step: instead of binding the shaft (or in addition to it), the point of the tang was hammered flat against the shaft, like a rivet, to provide a fastening point. Based on the distance between the tang and the 'button', the thickness of the shaft at that end was approximately xxx mm."


Illustrations of the earliest shields in the Aegean suggest that they did not have a hand grip. They seem to have been wielded by means of the shield strap over the shoulder to enable two-handed use of the spear. So it doesn't matter whether they had a shield or not, the spear would have been two-handed.

I cover a lot of this in my book. It is fully cited so should be sufficient for your archaeologist friend.
https://www.amazon.com/Bronze-Age-Military-Equipment-Howard/dp/1848842937

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David JD Johnson




Location: London UK
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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2020 2:16 am    Post subject: Bronze Age spears         Reply with quote

Thank you Mathew and Dan.

Mathew, thank you for the references: as soon as I can go to the British Library I will have a look. We only need a citation, I doubt there will be room for an illustration. As for it being obvious, he would have to think about it for quite a while to work out there was no alternative (compared, for example, to fixing it embedded into the side of the shaft.). I had to explain to him that the hook was to stop it pulling out, which he hadn't thought of. These academics are obsessed with citations.

Dan, thanks a lot, I will order your book, since I can do that now. I thought the earliest depiction of shields in the Aegean was the Akrotiri fresco, which would have been around 1600 BC at the start of the Late Bronze Age (500-800 years later than my spear)? Or are there others earlier?

I have however, been pursuing other paths and have found an illustration in Andrea Salimbeti's website: http//salimbeti.com/micenei/weapons2.htm , which I just put in my website However he could not remember where he got the illustration from.

I did put a photo on my first post, but you have to click on it (How can I get it to display?). I will do so if I can (and for the other spear).
Alternatively you can look on my website http://ant.david-johnson.co.uk. click on "thumbnails" for an overview and on each thing to get the write-up and enlarge the photo (click again). The Histories of each period are only on the main Catalogue which has to be scrolled through. The entries were done as I went along so I know more now and the printed catalogue will be more up to date and accurate.

The second spear from the end of the Cypriot Bronze Age (1200-1050 BC) is socketed. Very few of the iron ones after that have been preserved and I have never seen a Cypriot one for sale.

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2020 4:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The earliest Aegean shields were used with two-handed spears so it is likely that your spear was used in two hands regardless of whether they had a shield or not.
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David JD Johnson




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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2020 5:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Dan, I didn't know that.
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David JD Johnson




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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2020 5:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Just discovered the limit of 1Mb on images, so here are the spears, first the 2400-2100BC one


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David JD Johnson




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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2020 6:00 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

And here the 1200 - 1050 BC socketed one (notice the seam and the rivet hole on the split (there is another partial hole for one on the lower edge of the socket, where some metal is missing.


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David JD Johnson




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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2020 6:07 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The tip of the later spear was probably more pointed originally. I would guess it was damaged and re-ground.
Notice a bit of wood in the socket (stained green by the copper)
The earlier spear (unless it was imported which is very unlikely since Cyprus was an exporter of copper) is probably Arsenic bronze rather than tin bronze since Cyprus has no source of tin. Arsenic Bronze is quite good (the arsenic occurs naturally in much Cypriot copper ore) but is not good for the health of the copper smelters.

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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2020 6:10 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

You could poke around the books on arms and armour from 19th century southern Africa and Southeast Asia, in a few areas far from any place with towns or professional bladesmiths I think you can find a few spears with tanged iron heads and see how they were fixed. Tatterton's "Indian and Oriental Arms and Armour" is good on what it says it covers but this is not my field.
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David JD Johnson




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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2020 6:42 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Thanks Sean, I may take a look when I am next able to go to the British Library.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2020 6:58 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David JD Johnson wrote:
The earlier spear (unless it was imported which is very unlikely since Cyprus was an exporter of copper) is probably Arsenic bronze rather than tin bronze since Cyprus has no source of tin. Arsenic Bronze is quite good (the arsenic occurs naturally in much Cypriot copper ore) but is not good for the health of the copper smelters.

Arsenic copper weapons first appear in Cyprus in the middle of the third millennium. Tin bronze weapons start to appear in Cyprus at the beginning of the second millennium. The tin was imported.

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Michael Beeching





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PostPosted: Tue 26 May, 2020 4:21 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I have no experience with bronze working, but I'm not certain I follow the line of peening the end of the spearhead AFTER it has been inserted into into the end of a split shaft. To me, all that would happen in such a case is that you'd be more likely to break an area of the spear that needs to be strong but has likewise just been weakened due to splitting.

Instead, I see two options for this construction, which I do not need experience in bronze working to speculate on:

1. The button is just that - a button. It sticks out of the side of the spear shaft and acts as an attachment point for cordage. This lets you tightly bind the end of the spear shaft together without the trouble of cord slippage. It actually seems like a really nice system!

2. This is a press-fit system, where the button end bites into the split end of the shaft as bindings are applied. I will then go on to say I think this is a bit unlikely - the shaft would have to be pretty beefy and probably overly-heavy.

*****

I would further speculate that they would not even split the shaft in the first place! Controlling a split like that would be difficult. You'd probably also need to form a groove for a tight fit as well. Forming a groove after the split would not be easy. They might be able to drill into the shaft length-wise, but coring out a section and then splitting it seems like a risky venture as well.

...Instead, you would get a chisel an gouge out a channel in the side of the shaft. You would then insert the spearhead, along with a natural glue AND a wooden filler-piece to cover the top of the channel. You'd then glue the outside of the shaft, and have your cordage already looped around the button. Bind everything tightly, and you've got a natural fiber socket anchoring your spearhead onto your shaft.

*****

If they did do splitting, perhaps they heated the tang to a high temperature and then burned the profile into the shaft? As I do NOT know anything about bronze working, would this be a viable method? Would they weaken the bronze excessively if they basically annealed it like that? Or, would they just re-heat it and quench it again?

*EDIT*

As a question, what are the dimensions on the tang? How thick is it, how wide, how long, etc?
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David JD Johnson




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2020 3:14 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Yes, absolutely, Dan. My spear on stylistic grounds (the button especially but also the shape) is later 3rd century. After this, as you say, Cyprus imported tin. A late Bronze Age shipwreck was found off the Anatolian coast containing 10 tons of Cypriot Copper and one ton of tin from somewhere else on its trade route (the correct ratio for bronze). Homer said that Agamemnon's armour was made of Cypriot Bronze.

Michael, yes, you make my point that the method of fixing is not obvious. I gather that he method I mentioned is what experiment found worked best.
That method of fixing (that I cannot locate the source of) is like this:



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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Thu 28 May, 2020 7:36 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

David JD Johnson wrote:
Homer said that Agamemnon's armour was made of Cypriot Bronze.

He said that Kinyras, king of Cyprus, gave it to Agamemnon, but doesn't say where it was made. They were exchanging gifts with each other all the time so it could have originated anywhere. However, his description of the armour's decoration is consistent with motifs on items found on Cyprus. We used Cypriot motifs on the reconstruction.

http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=28063

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David JD Johnson




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PostPosted: Fri 29 May, 2020 7:57 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Dan, as Cyprus was the most important source of copper in the Mediterranean, it would be odd if it had been re-imported into Cyprus and then sent out again as a gift! However by the time of Homer all that was 500 years in the past, so the point is an argument about fiction.

In the 12th century BC - the end of the Bronze Age - should the Mycenaean shield shape suggest a one handed underhand use of the spear? 700 years later, in the Classical Age, I am guessing the overhand use was a response to the shield-wall?

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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Fri 29 May, 2020 8:04 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Cypriot copper was exported all over the Aegean. Bronze armour was made all over the Aegean using Cypriot copper. A suit of armour found in Cyprus is no more likely to have been made in Cyprus than anywhere else. The Iliad is hardly fiction. Plenty of things described in the book have been found in the archaeological record. The topography of the area around Hissarlik has been reconstructed to look as it did at the end of the Bronze Age and there are many geological features corresponding to those described in the book.

Mycenaeans were fighting in shield walls for around a thousand years. By the end of the Bronze Age their style of fighting started to resemble Classical phalanx combat. The shields used by Mycenaeans at the end of the Bronze Age were circular just like those described in the Iliad. They had started using one handed spears and javelins by that time. Again, as described in the Iliad. Hans Van Wees reckons that there are depictions of phalanx combat in the Iliad and I agree with him.

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David JD Johnson




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PostPosted: Fri 29 May, 2020 11:09 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Interesting, you clearly know a lot more about weapons than I do (which is hardly a surprise). I had been thinking of the figure of eight shield.( Purely intuitively it felt like that implied underhand use of a spear.) When did those disappear?
So when do you believe the switch from generally underhand to generally overhand use of the spear happened?

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David JD Johnson




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PostPosted: Fri 29 May, 2020 11:20 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I assume that Homer had more knowledge of the weapons and fighting technique of his own times than 500 years earlier (like Shakespeare in his historical plays), so it is a bit confusing discussing the siege of Troy. I agree with you that the siege of Troy stories were based on real remembered attacks on the Turkish coast (perhaps combining with memory of other sieges) . Do you think this might early part of what they called the attacks of the "Sea Peoples", who probably weren't one people anyway.
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Dan Howard




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PostPosted: Sat 30 May, 2020 12:53 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Figure-8 shields and tower shields stopped being used a couple of centuries before the alleged date of the Trojan war. When they were in use, they never had hand grips. The shields were wielded by means of the shoulder strap to enable two-handed use of the spear.



Homer wrote about events a couple of centuries before his own time, not five hundred. The Dark Ages was an artificial construct to try and reconcile the dodgy chronology we've been using. It looks like we should be revising the chronology down by a couple of centuries so that the Bronze Age ended, and the Trojan War occurred, in the 10th century.

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