Category Archive 'Arms and Armor'
21 Nov 2018

A Masked Helmet

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A tight helmet with grotesque face (masked visor), Germany or Italy, early 16th century and later. Height: 9.44″/24 cm. Typical modified helmet for the Gioco del Ponte. Provenance: Collection of the Royal Dynasty of Hanover, Marienburg, auctioned at Sotheby’s, October 2005

08 Nov 2018

Greek Helmet From Marathon

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Corinthian-style helmet from the battle of Marathon (490 B.C.) found with warrior’s skull inside. Note marks of helmet on the skull.

Museum of Artifacts:

On the morning of September 17, 490 BC, some 10,000 Greeks stood assembled on the plain of Marathon, preparing to fight to the last man. Behind them lay everything they held dear: their city, their homes, their families. In front of the outnumbered Greeks stood the assembled forces of the Persian empire, a seemingly invincible army with revenge, pillage and plunder on its mind. The two sides faced each another directly, waiting for the fight to start. The Athenians stalled for days, anticipating reinforcements promised by Sparta. But they knew they could not wait for long. The Persians, expecting as easy a victory as they had won against enemies so many times before, were in no hurry.

The Greeks, knowing the time for battle had come, began to move forward. Ostensibly, they advanced with focus and purpose, but beneath this firm veneer, as they looked on a vastly larger enemy — at least twice their number — many must have been fearful of what was to come. The Persian archers sat with their bows drawn, ready to loose a barrage of arrows that would send fear and confusion through the Greek ranks .Eventually, though, the infantry on both sides engaged in battle. Moving towards each other and perhaps with the Greeks running the final 400 metres whilst undoubtedly under fire from the Persian archers, the two armies clashed.

Few hours later the bloody battle ended. Herodotus records that 6,400 Persian bodies were counted on the battlefield, and it is unknown how many more perished in the swamps. The Athenians lost 192 men and the Plataeans 11.

20 Oct 2018

Queen Saga Speaks

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Queen Saga I

As told to the Guardian:

Every summer, my parents, my six-year-old brother and I go to stay in a cabin by a lake called Vidöstern in Tånnö in southern Sweden, not far from where we live. I like to build sandcastles on the beach, or find rocks to skim across the water and see how many times I can make them bounce. Mamma says she used to play and swim in the lake when she was little, too.

On 15 July this year, I was playing on the beach with my friend, when Daddy told me to get a buoy from the cabin: he said the water level in the lake was very shallow and we had to warn any boats that might come along because it was dangerous. He said it had been the hottest summer for 260 years.
Sweden’s ‘true queen’, 8, pulls ancient sword from lake
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I waded into the water and it was very soft on my skin and refreshing, a little bit cool but not too cold. It was a nice feeling because the sun was shining and I was very hot. Daddy was begging me to rush so he could watch the World Cup final, but I like to take my time about things so I ignored him.

I was crawling along the bottom of the lake on my arms and knees, looking for stones to skim, when my hand and knee felt something long and hard buried in the clay and sand. I pulled it out and saw that it was different from the sticks or rocks I usually find. One end had a point, and the other had a handle, so I pointed it up to the sky, put my other hand on my hip and called out, “Daddy, I’ve found a sword!”

I felt like a warrior, but Daddy said I looked like Pippi Longstocking. The sword felt rough and hard, and I got some sticky, icky brown rust on my hands. It started to bend and Daddy splashed up to me, and said I should let him hold it. It was my sword and now he was taking it away! I gave it to him in the end.

I ran to my mamma and my mormor – my grandma – and some other relatives who were all sitting outside having fika, which is Swedish for having a sit-down with coffee and cookies. I was yelling, “I found a sword, I found a sword!” Daddy went to show it to our neighbours, whose family has lived in the village for more than 100 years, and they said it looked like a Viking sword. Daddy didn’t get to watch the football in the end.

When he showed it to an archaeologist, she said she had goosebumps and that it was at least 1,000 years old. Actually, they now think it’s 1,500 years old – from before the Vikings. She called it “sensational” and said nothing like this had ever been found in Scandinavia before, and that maybe I had found it because of the low water levels. She made me promise not to tell anyone because she and other archaeologists wanted to see if there was anything else buried in the lake; they didn’t want anyone else to come and take the treasures.
Experience: I run a hospice for animals
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It wasn’t hard to keep the secret. But I did tell one of my best friends, Emmy, and now I know I can trust her because she didn’t tell anybody, except her parents – but they promised not to tell anybody else, so that’s OK.

This month, the archaeologists finally came to search the rest of the lake and they found a brooch that is as old as my sword, and a coin from the 18th century. Then they announced the news and I could finally tell everyone at school. I came back from gym class and the whiteboard said, “Saga’s sword” and there were balloons, and the whole class got to have ice-cream.

I had to give the sword to the local museum – Daddy explained that it’s part of history and important to share it with others. I felt “boo” that it’s gone away, but “yay” that other people will get to see it. I’m going to try to raise some money to make a replica sword that I can keep.

People on the internet are saying I am the queen of Sweden, because in the legend of King Arthur, he was given a sword by a lady in a lake, and that meant he would become king. I am not a lady – I’m only eight – but it’s true I found a sword in the lake. I wouldn’t mind being queen for a day, but when I grow up I want to be a vet. Or an actor in Paris.

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Original story.

05 Oct 2018

False Expectations

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NYM blogged about this cuirass previously here.

25 Sep 2018

Rørby Sword

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natus.dk:In 1952 Thorvald Nielsen was dredging a ditch in a small bog at Rørby in western Zealand. He found an ornamented curved sword of bronze that had been stuck diagonally into the turf. The sword was from the beginning of the Bronze Age, around 1600 BC, and was the first of its kind to be found in Denmark. It was handed in as treasure trove to the National Museum, but the story does not end there. In 1957, when Thorvald Jensen was digging up potatoes around the same place, he uncovered yet another curved sword. The second curved sword was ornamented like the first, but it was also decorated with a picture of a ship. This is the oldest example of a ship image from Denmark.

Combat Archaeology:

A peculiar class of swords emerge in the earliest periods of the Danish Bronze Age, namely the curved sword. The specimens from Rørby Mose, western Zealand, are amongst some of the most impressive armament finds from the Early Bronze Age.

The first of these swords was found by chance in 1952. Five years later, again by chance, the second was found, only a few meters away from the location of the first. The two swords are nearly identical and both intensively decorated with geometric patterns which reveal a date of c. 1600-1500 BC .

The second of the swords found at Rørby, however, features a distinctive depiction of a boat on its blade and is the earliest known of its kind in the history of Denmark The depiction is strikingly similar to the boats contained in the many Bronze Age rock art panels of Scandinavia as well as the Hjortspring boat from around 350 BC. In a certain sense, the morphology of the Rørby swords, with their curved extremes, also bear some resemblances to these boats.

Although impressive, there is little to suggest that these curved swords had any combative function. They are massive and unwieldy and their morphology does simply not allow for any functional interpretation in combative terms. Being made of expensive bronze and so intensely decorated with fine geometric patterns, the swords can more appropriately be assigned to a symbolic role.

05 Sep 2018

Viking Sword, Possible Byzantine Manufacture

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The extreme nature of the ornamentation on this sword, combined with the unusual (for Scandinavia) motifs coupled with the apparent lack of a fuller (lenticular, ‘grooveless’ sword blades being a common hallmark of swords from Constantinople) may indicate that this sword was manufactured in Byzantium and may have belonged to a Varangian Guardsman or may have been gifted to a Nordic person held in esteem by the Romans.

With double-edged blade of gradual taper; inlaid on both sides in gold and silver with decorative patterns, one side bearing a gradually tapering geometric-architectural design in five stages and the other bearing a gradually tapering palmette design. The hilt comprising down-curved cross guard, sturdy tang and five-lobed pommel riveted to the upward-curving upper guard; the cross-guard, upper guard and pommel all inlaid in silver with decorative knotwork and tracery and in gold with dots.

Overall length: 94 cm (37″); Blade length: 80.6 cm (31.75″)

This rare Viking sword, the hilt of Petersen Type O, has a cross-guard with decorative devices reminiscent of those on one of the three swords that were found in the rich ship burial of about 900 at Hedeby in Denmark when it was subsequently excavated in the 1950s. More of these ‘rabbit ear’ or ‘knotted rope’ characters may be found on three of the ‘Hiltipreht’ group of swords, namely one in the Wallace Collection, London (Inv. No. A456), the Ballinderry sword in the National Museum of Ireland, Dublin (Inv. No.1928.382) and the example from Malhus in the Trondheim Museum, Norway (Petersen, Abb.89).

The credentials of this prestigious weapon are further enhanced by the decoration upon the blade. On one side there is a palmette design of inlaid silver with traces of gold that is very similar to that on a fragmented blade from the River Bann in Ireland and illustrated in Bøe. This should be compared with the inlay on a sword from the Waal near Nijmegen (Oakeshott, Records of the Medieval Sword, p.47). On the other side, the inlaid precious metals may well represent a schematic plan view of a building, as is believed to have been intended upon another silver inlaid sword illustrated and described by Ewart Oakeshott (Records of the Medieval Sword, pp.28-29).

02 Sep 2018

The Guttman Gladius

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A POMPEII-TYPE GLADIUS (SHORT SWORD), TINNED BRONZE SCABBARD AND IRON SPEAR HEAD

MID/LATE 1ST CENTURY A.D.

The gladius with parallel double-edged blade of piled construction, of flattened diamond section with raised rib at the point, and long tang, the forte with dot-punched inscription on both sides reading: “C. Valer(i) Pr[imi]/C.Valeri(i) Pri(mi)” and: “C. Valeri(i) P[rimi] C. Raniu(s)/C. Vale[ri] Primi”, mounted, 25 in. (63.6 cm.) long; the scabbard consisting of bronze mounts with remains of tinning, with cut-away and engraved motifs, comprising the locket with two pierced and engraved panels decorated with two helmeted figures, the upper with a warrior moving towards the right, his head turned back, holding spear and shield, and wearing muscled cuirass and crested helmet, two shields resting at his feet, the lower panel with figure of winged Victory writing on a shield hanging from palm tree, wearing drapery around her lower body, the chape with figure of winged Victory holding palm leaf, a separate palmette with scrolling pattern above, with modern collar attachment, mounted, 5¾ in. (14.5 cm.) long max.; and an iron spear blade decorated with circular and wavy line motif on both sides, with faint inscription on the shaft, 17¼ in. (44 cm.) long; and a modern replica of the gladius and scabbard, 26½ in. (67.3 cm.) long max. (4)

Provenance:

Found in Wiesbaden in 1971-1972 by Wolfgang Johe.

Read more: here

20 Aug 2018

Octopus Samurai Helmet

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Tako Kabuto, Wereldmuseum, Rotterdam.

31 Jul 2018

Renaissance Musical Notation Knives

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From the collection of the Fitzwilliam Museum, Cambridge.

Open Culture:

These knives, which have musical scores engraved in their blades, brought a table together in singing their prayers, and may have been used to carve the lamb or beef in their “striking balance of decorative and utilitarian function.” At least historians think such “notation knives,” which date from the early 1500s, were used at banquets. “The sharp, wide steel would have been ideal for cutting and serving meat,” writes Eliza Grace Martin at the WQXR blog, “and the accentuated tip would have made for a perfect skewer.” But as Kristen Kalber, curator at the Victoria and Albert Museum, which houses the knives at the top of the post, tells us “diners in very grand feasts didn’t cut their own meat.” It’s unlikely they would have sung from the bloody knives held by their servants.

The knives’ true purpose “remains a mystery,” Martin remarks, like many “rituals of the Renaissance table.” Victoria and Albert Museum curator Kirstin Kennedy admits in the video above that “we are not entirely sure” what the “splendid knife” she holds was used for. But we do know that each knife had a different piece of music on each side, and that a set of them together contained different harmony parts in order to turn a roomful of diners into a chorus. One set of blades had the grace on one side, with the inscription, “the blessing of the table. May the three-in-one bless that which we are about to eat.” The other side holds the benediction, to be sung after the dinner: “The saying of grace. We give thanks to you God for your generosity.”

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Kristen Kalber, at the Victoria & Albert Museum, discusses these knives.

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Maya Corry discusses the Fitzwillian Museum’s musical notation knives starting at 2:30.

11 Apr 2018

Dagger

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Rock Crystal Dagger, 3000 B.C., Spain.

Daily Grail:

Structure 10.042-10.049 is another large two-chambered megalithic construction made from slate slabs. In the second chamber archaeologists found the body of a young male aged between 17 and 25 lying in the foetal position along with a large set of grave goods. These included an undecorated elephant tusk laid above the young man’s head, a set of 23 flint blades, and numerous ivory objects. Additionally, red pigment made from cinnabar had been sprayed over the body and the objects surrounding it. The “remarkable crystal dagger blade”, however, was not found with these grave goods, but instead in the upper level of this chamber.

The rock crystal dagger blade appeared in the upper level of Structure 10.049 of the PP4-Montelirio sector, in association with an ivory hilt and sheath, which renders it an exceptional object in Late Prehistoric Europe… The blade is 214 mm in length, a maximum of 59 mm in width and 13 mm thick. Its morphology is not unheard of in the Iberian Peninsula, although all the samples recorded thus far were made from flint and not rock crystal…

The manufacture of the rock crystal dagger blade must have been based on an accumulation of transmitted empirical knowledge and skill taken from the production of flint dagger blades as well from know-how of rock-crystal smaller foliaceous bifacial objects, such as Ontiveros and Montelirio arrowheads… It was obtained from a large monocrystal at least 220 mm in length and 60 mm in width. Given that these single crystals are hexagonal, they would have a similar width along all their different axes.

The rock crystal source used in creating the crystal weaponry has not been pinpointed exactly at this stage, though analysis suggests two potential sources, “both located several hundred km away from Valencina”.

Given the technical skill and difficulties involved in creating the objects from crystal, rather than flint, researchers believe the motives behind their construction must have been very specific. They note that while crystal objects were found throughout the site…

    The more technically sophisticated items, however, were deposited in the larger megalithic structures…As such, it is reasonable to assume that although the raw material was relatively available throughout the community…only the kin groups, factions or individuals who were buried in megaliths were able to afford the added value that allowed the production of sophisticated objects such as arrow heads or dagger blades.
    In this respect, however, it is important to note that, paradoxically, none of the most sophisticated artefacts studied in this paper can be ascribed to any particular individual: the rock crystal dagger from Structure 10.042-10.049 was found in the upper level of the main chamber (10.049) in which no human bones were identified; in Montelirio, neither the core nor the arrowheads can be ascribed to any on 20 individuals found in the main chamber; lastly, in the case of Ontiveros, the only available publication offers no evidence that the 16 arrow heads were associated to any particular individual.

    It seems therefore reasonable to suggest that rock crystal may have had a dual significance for the Chalcolithic society of Valencina. On the one hand, it had a social significance due to the exoticism of the material and the fact that its transformation required very specific skills and probably some degree of technical specialisation. These objects would have had a “surplus value” based on the exoticism and rarity of the raw material, the techno-economic investment of their manufacture (a know-how limited to very few people) and their use linked to the world of beliefs and funerary practices. They probably represent funerary paraphernalia only accessible to the elite of this time-period.

    On the other hand, rock crystal must have had a symbolic significance as a raw material invested with special meanings and connotations. The literature provides examples of societies in which rock crystal and quartz as raw materials symbolise vitality, magical powers and a connection with ancestors In her analysis of European Neolithic religion, Marija Gimbutas linked the ritual and votive use of white quartz nodules to a symbol of death and regeneration often associated with funerary spaces. Quartz and rock crystal were even portrayed as rocks with great supernatural powers in European Christian tradition. In his Lapidarium, King Alfonso X the Wise of Castile (1276-1279 CE) emphasised its power to connect human beings with the spiritual world, as well as its ability to protect them from danger.

09 Apr 2018

Bronze Italic Cuirass

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Italic Bronze Anatomical Cuirass
Culture : Greek-Western-Greek, Italic
Period : 4th century B.C.
Material : Bronze
Dimensions : H: 35.8 cm

Provenance : Ex-Professor A. Goumaz Collection, Switzerland, 1960’s.

Conditions : Anatomical cuirass featuring two cast bronze plates hammered for better protection against knocks and blows. Repairs on both elements; lateral closure system (hinges, hooks) now lost. Reddish brown colored metal largely covered with a dark green patina and encrustations.

25 Mar 2018

Hingsgavldolken Blade

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Flint knife known as the Hingsgavldolken blade, circa 2400-1800 BC. On display at the Danish National Museum.

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