The Met Falcata
Hello!

I wanted to talk about this sword. The link is to the Metropolitan Museum of Art in NY.
https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/32256

The pics of both sides (click 'additional images') are good because you can roll your mouse in and really see whats going on.

So Im having a great smith make a reproduction. But I have to say, I think the smith that made it was of the highest caliber, with a firm grasp of designing elegant, functional, athletic and effective arms.

I have a question about the dimensions, especially the handle.

3 and 15/16th inches? Is there... room for fingers in there? Was it mis-measured? Were their hands smaller back then? Designed for a woman or teen? Or am I missing something.

Also, 1 pound... did this ancient metal weigh less? Is there a lot of material loss? Id expect a repro to be be a swell under 2, right?

Now I think the handle scales are postmodern, with brass pins. The pins have some sort of filing, grinding or machining on the heads. But Im sure the scales follow the tang. Wish I could see the tang...

Anyway, wow, those fullers.... challenging, and sexy. The deep line around the middle one looks like mascara around a woman's eye, somehow...

Thanks to anyone who would know this.
Almost 4 inches of hilt length (I guess at most 3 to 3 and a half grippable) seems okay for a knife/very short sword. A (slender) size 9 hand can surely fit, but it's definitely not spacious or made for large hands. Also extremely tight hilts weren't all that uncommon in the eastern world. Matt Easton has posted several videos on hilt and grip lengths of Tulwars and other Indian and Persian weapons, including one that is too tight for him, but fine for his wife. So yeah, it probably was made for a smaller person or at least smaller hands. No shame in having that detail slightly altered in a modern adaptation.

The weight seems okay, it is a short blade, the grip is quite light and you can be pretty sure that it's not a thick blade. Probably has a lot of distal taper (comparable to things like the Cluny falchion I'd assume).
I'm sure that Fernando Quesada's articles will have more data on falcatas sizes and weight ;)
I can feel the edge on my thumb. Intoxicating. ;) .....McM
well, firstly I'd second a close look at the work of Fernando Quesada for the subject matter.

My observations, however:
one of the most common reproduction errors is creating oversized grips - be it on these, on single-handed swords, etc. Unless you are actually endowed with Mike Tyson's hand size, a 10cm grip is more than adequate for normal people. Their hands were no smaller than ours. These hilts are designed to tightly "lock" into the hand, fore and aft, so there is minimal risk of displacement in use.

Weight, likewise, probably the most common errors is overbuilding the things. Cross-sectional profiles on those falcata I've looked at, are, like falchions, exceptional distal profiles from the forward guard, rapidly tapering to thin cross-sections in the 1.5-2mm range, with deep cut fullers forming a delicate web section to them. They are not, in any shape or form thick heavy choppers. Falcata, even more so, in that they are generally small. at about 50cm overall, its smaller than a conventional modern machete. I would expect that it is not fullered in the tang, but instead had proximal taper, going from maximum width at the forward guard down to about 1.5mm thick at the very back of the blade.

in other words, if it were drawn from the edge, it wouldnt be a:
=> shape, but
<> like that - tapering towards each end.

that's a fairly common error too.
I agree with everything that JG Elmslie has said and will add that I was able to briefly have a look at the sword in question here and was shocked.. shocked.. and how thin the blade is. At the time, I really didn't understand what these types of swords were, how they were used, or why they were made the way they were. They're really quite a bit different than the swords that are my main area of interest. It was an eye opener, for sure.
Re: The Met Falcata
Michael Granovsky wrote:
Also, 1 pound... did this ancient metal weigh less? Is there a lot of material loss? Id expect a repro to be be a swell under 2, right?


While it's common to see repros of 2 to 3 pounds, originals are about half that weight. Most are from about 13oz/380g to 1.5lb/660g.

Lots of stuff about falcatas here: http://myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t=2729
Thanks everyone for the replies.

Timo, I read that entire thread, thanks. As well, I read some other things by Mr. Quesada and will perhaps order his latest book.

Nathan, may I ask, was there any discussion at the time about the 'too good to be true' condition of the handle? Did they perhaps mean to date it 2 C. to 4 C. BCE and there was a typo?

I like the little aura of mystery surrounding this wonderful sword.
Michael Granovsky wrote:
Nathan, may I ask, was there any discussion at the time about the 'too good to be true' condition of the handle? Did they perhaps mean to date it 2 C. to 4 C. BCE and there was a typo?


I don't know. I saw it a long, long time ago. I was under the impression the grip was a replacement.
Michael Granovsky wrote:
Thanks everyone for the replies.

Timo, I read that entire thread, thanks. As well, I read some other things by Mr. Quesada and will perhaps order his latest book.

Nathan, may I ask, was there any discussion at the time about the 'too good to be true' condition of the handle? Did they perhaps mean to date it 2 C. to 4 C. BCE and there was a typo?

I like the little aura of mystery surrounding this wonderful sword.


I'm a bit of a skeptic of anything this nice looking at the Met that's so vaguely labeled and "not on view." The Met did not dig this up themselves and there seems to be no provenance at all. It appears to have been accepted into the collection in 1932 when the museum was also displaying its fake Etruscan Warriors https://www.atlasobscura.com/articles/etruscan-forgeries-met-museum-art . Even the Getty Villa and Penn Museum have been fooled.

I wonder if anyone has seriously taken a look at this very handsome sword with modern technology?
I'd like that too. How would one go about starting a movement to make that happen?
Michael Granovsky wrote:
I'd like that too. How would one go about starting a movement to make that happen?


If you mean having the Met confirm the age of this piece, as it's not on display I doubt they have any desire to do anything with it. The Met is a huge art museum and although it has an unbelievably large collection of Classical antiquities, that section is just a small part of it's overall collection.
Michael Granovsky wrote:
I'd like that too. How would one go about starting a movement to make that happen?


The only way that this is likely to happen would be for a post graduate student to take an interest in the item and get permission from the MET to study it for their thesis.

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