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Jean Henri Chandler




Location: New Orleans
Joined: 20 Nov 2006

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PostPosted: Sat 23 Dec, 2006 1:20 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:
Further more during that period, people were buried with all their possesions, so why would they specifically have excluded swords? Another reason is that the daggers do involve back into swords, as they get longer and longer again. Though I personally haven't seen many of these intermediate daggers/swords yet.


Respectfully, i don't think we know that people were buried with all of their possessions because we don't know what all their possessions were. As for why swords may have disappeared, your theory that they were phased out is at least plausable, but it's certainly not the only possible conclusion. Maybe it became the fashion to pass swords down from one generation to another (as was often done in many eras and many places) or maybe it became trendy to ritually destroy them in some way that we cannot recognize whatever is left. The fact is there are any number of possibilities and we really don't know for sure.

J

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F Landis





Joined: 26 Dec 2011

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PostPosted: Mon 26 Dec, 2011 9:01 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I'm going to reopen this old thread, even as a newbie, because I actually got a nice bronze leaf-shaped sword for Christmas. It's one of Neal Burridge's Limehouse swords, and it's a sweet blade (http://www.bronze-age-swords.com/British_and_European.htm).

It also isn't designed for thrusting. Because of that big mushroom pommel, it's impossible to put the blade in line with your arm for a fencing-style thrust. The pommel digs into your wrist past the 45 degree angle.

The only other modern swords I know that have this type of hilt come out of northern India: tulwars and the like. They are used in martial arts like gatka (see the youtube clips) which are these swirling sword and shield exercises, and the swords are typically curved slashers like tulwars.

So I started thinking: why would some smith mate a slashing-type hilt with a stabbing-type blade? It's quite evidently not a design flaw, because most bronze swords we know about had wide pommels. It's a great design for locking the sword onto your hand (and I have big hands), but it is crappy for inline thrusts.

Then it hit me: the sword is bronze. Bronze is not steel. It's softer.

Assume you start slashing with a bronze sword, and assume that your opponent has a shield, possibly some body armor. What happens? Your edge gets dull if you hit the shield too many times. If you have a bronze scimitar-shaped sword, pretty soon you have a club.

With a leaf bladed sword, you just spin your sword 180 degrees, and you have a nice fresh edge to keep fighting with.

This makes sense if you're fighting where people are wearing armor or heavy clothing. In fact, the only place we see curved bronze swords (the khopesh) being popular is in Egypt and the Middle East, where they didn't wear much of anything when they fought.

Note that I'm not saying you couldn't thrust with a leaf-blade sword. However, it has to be a curving thrust, such as up into someone's armpit. Still, I don't think that leaf-blades were made primarily for stabbing. I'd guess that the fighting looked more like fighting with a machete, or like one of the northern Indian martial arts like gatka.

Once smiths got their fires hot enough to smelt iron, they had a whole different metal to work with, and that influenced their blade designs ever after.
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Matthew Amt




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

Posts: 1,306

PostPosted: Mon 26 Dec, 2011 1:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

F Landis wrote:
I'm going to reopen this old thread, even as a newbie, because I actually got a nice bronze leaf-shaped sword for Christmas. It's one of Neal Burridge's Limehouse swords, and it's a sweet blade (http://www.bronze-age-swords.com/British_and_European.htm).


Ooo, congrats! That really is one of the loveliest of the whole genre.

Quote:
It also isn't designed for thrusting. Because of that big mushroom pommel, it's impossible to put the blade in line with your arm for a fencing-style thrust. The pommel digs into your wrist past the 45 degree angle.


Huh, can't really give you a definitive answer to that one, since I have no training in swordsmanship. But I do have other swords with large pommels (Roman Mainz style gladius, for instance), and a thrusting motion seems to be no problem with that. Maybe you need to get closer to your target?

Quote:
Then it hit me: the sword is bronze. Bronze is not steel. It's softer.


I'm sure Jeroen will jump in here again, but be careful--good bronze, with a high tin content and proper hammer-hardening, is *harder* than wrought iron. *Good* steel, including modern tool steels, are harder than bronze can get, but a wide range of ancient ferrous alloys were not, at least not necessarily.

Quote:
Assume you start slashing with a bronze sword, and assume that your opponent has a shield, possibly some body armor. What happens? Your edge gets dull if you hit the shield too many times. If you have a bronze scimitar-shaped sword, pretty soon you have a club.


Don't aim at the shield, and definitely don't aim at the armor! Read the Iliad, and you'll see that most strikes are in the face or neck, or low in the belly, places that the armor does not cover. (Mostly spear strikes, of course, but still!)

Quote:
Once smiths got their fires hot enough to smelt iron, they had a whole different metal to work with, and that influenced their blade designs ever after.


I'm not sure the temperature was an issue--pretty sure the methods used for smelting and casting bronze were hot enough for smelting and working iron, though the metallurgists may correct me. And the first iron swords were simply translations of existing bronze weapons. Things like the khopesh were already long gone, as well. It does seem that the use of iron and steel allowed a wider use of longer blades, but those took centuries to develop. And there were at least a few bronze swords with nearly 3-foot blades by the late Bronze Age! Definitely meant for cutting.

Khaire,

Matthew
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William P




Location: Sydney, Australia
Joined: 11 Jul 2010

Posts: 1,436

PostPosted: Mon 26 Dec, 2011 4:58 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Matthew Amt wrote:
F Landis wrote:
I'm going to reopen this old thread, even as a newbie, because I actually got a nice bronze leaf-shaped sword for Christmas. It's one of Neal Burridge's Limehouse swords, and it's a sweet blade (http://www.bronze-age-swords.com/British_and_European.htm).


Ooo, congrats! That really is one of the loveliest of the whole genre.

Quote:
It also isn't designed for thrusting. Because of that big mushroom pommel, it's impossible to put the blade in line with your arm for a fencing-style thrust. The pommel digs into your wrist past the 45 degree angle.


Huh, can't really give you a definitive answer to that one, since I have no training in swordsmanship. But I do have other swords with large pommels (Roman Mainz style gladius, for instance), and a thrusting motion seems to be no problem with that. Maybe you need to get closer to your target?

Quote:
Then it hit me: the sword is bronze. Bronze is not steel. It's softer.


I'm sure Jeroen will jump in here again, but be careful--good bronze, with a high tin content and proper hammer-hardening, is *harder* than wrought iron. *Good* steel, including modern tool steels, are harder than bronze can get, but a wide range of ancient ferrous alloys were not, at least not necessarily.

Quote:
Assume you start slashing with a bronze sword, and assume that your opponent has a shield, possibly some body armor. What happens? Your edge gets dull if you hit the shield too many times. If you have a bronze scimitar-shaped sword, pretty soon you have a club.


Don't aim at the shield, and definitely don't aim at the armor! Read the Iliad, and you'll see that most strikes are in the face or neck, or low in the belly, places that the armor does not cover. (Mostly spear strikes, of course, but still!)

Quote:
Once smiths got their fires hot enough to smelt iron, they had a whole different metal to work with, and that influenced their blade designs ever after.


I'm not sure the temperature was an issue--pretty sure the methods used for smelting and casting bronze were hot enough for smelting and working iron, though the metallurgists may correct me. And the first iron swords were simply translations of existing bronze weapons. Things like the khopesh were already long gone, as well. It does seem that the use of iron and steel allowed a wider use of longer blades, but those took centuries to develop. And there were at least a few bronze swords with nearly 3-foot blades by the late Bronze Age! Definitely meant for cutting.

Khaire,

Matthew

the way ive heard it is that bronze is harder, but iron is more supple and flexible, even if its edges are abit softer.
as for shields

even if you are aiming for the vulnerable spots, your opponents willof course block , which means your sword will invariably bang into his shield, though a half decent blade wont blunt that easily from hitting a shield,

and we could also agree that regarding 'you just turn your sword around for a fresh edge', now, if medieval sword and shield/bucker is any indication at all of sword fighting, i can imagine that one wouldnt have two edge if they wernt both used, this is frankly wild speclation on my part but it stems from the idea that human body mechanics have likely not changed much since the bronze age, so we could expect weapons to be, broadly speaking, used in fairly similar manners to the later viking and medieval sword techniques.
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Timo Nieminen




Location: Brisbane, Australia
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PostPosted: Tue 27 Dec, 2011 4:33 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

F Landis wrote:
Note that I'm not saying you couldn't thrust with a leaf-blade sword. However, it has to be a curving thrust, such as up into someone's armpit. Still, I don't think that leaf-blades were made primarily for stabbing.


The leafblade is a nice slicing design. I wouldn't say they were made primarily for stabbing, even if hilted more appropriately for stabbing. A good cutting geometry on the blade that sacrifices thrusting capability: primarily for cutting.

You make a good point for why double-edged is good. You could also play around and see it might be easy to hit/slice with the back edge. I've not tried that combination of length and grip. Think shield-to-shield, breathing in each other's faces - you might find it's easier to cut with the back edge than the front edge. Back of thighs?

"In addition to being efficient, all pole arms were quite nice to look at." - Cherney Berg, A hideous history of weapons, Collier 1963.
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Josh S





Joined: 15 Oct 2011

Posts: 74

PostPosted: Tue 27 Dec, 2011 5:36 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:
Sergio Duarte wrote:
With longer swords with more reach the Cog is even further from the hilt and thus slows the sword down even more.
Well, for starters, leafbladed swords did not have the COG in a different position from comparible straight edged swords. They just had the material spread differently cross-section wise.

Very interesting! And yet another reminder that blades are very much three-dimensional entities... I had always assumed the leaf-blade shape was a way to impart greater mass at the point of impact, but if the quoted statement is true then this is obviously not the case. Perhaps it was intended more as a way to lengthen the weapon's reach; although using some of the material to spread out the edges in the leaf shape obviously prevents that same material from being used to create a longer point, perhaps it is not the leaf shape itself that is the innovation, but rather the waisting that occurs near the hilt. In other words, it could be that the point of the design was not so much to flatten the blade in its lower portion, since blades are flat in the first place, but rather to make it thicker (as opposed to wider) in its upper portion in order to provide more stiffness, and thus allow for a longer blade to be used due to the higher structural integrity.

Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:
Sergio Duarte wrote:
So what advantage you might have in the cut is diminished by the increased disadvantage of having a sword, which was harder to redirect or recoverů

A longer sword isn't just harder to recover, it's also slower (unless you include twohanders). But I'm not familiar with swordfighting techniques to judge how longer swords can be used more to an advantage. I guess it mostly has to do with the fact that with a longer sword, you can stay out of reach of your opponent, while he's within reach of your sword. So you can take his wrist f.e., while he's still out of reach.

I just want to point out, for the sake of any silent readers who may misinterpret the above, that a longer sword being slower is not an effect of its length per se, but rather the additional mass and/or the fact that same mass is further out from the hand. Technically, the longer sword will be moving either just as fast or, often, faster - in terms of pure numbers. It will almost always be "slower" in terms of being open to parries and counters, though.
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Carl W.




Location: usa
Joined: 07 Aug 2008

Posts: 158

PostPosted: Tue 27 Dec, 2011 7:47 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Quote:
Jeroen Zuiderwijk wrote:
Well, for starters, leafbladed swords did not have the COG in a different position from comparible straight edged swords. They just had the material spread differently cross-section wise.

Josh S wrote:
Very interesting! And yet another reminder that blades are very much three-dimensional entities... I had always assumed the leaf-blade shape was a way to impart greater mass at the point of impact, but if the quoted statement is true then this is obviously not the case.


Yes this is interesting! There is a bit more on this at:

http://www.myArmoury.com/talk/viewtopic.php?t...eaf+blades

I'd still like to see discussion supporting Jeroen's statements. (I searched, didn't find.) If its true then we should put to rest the myth that leaf blades tend to be point heavy choppers.
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