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The "Myth" of the "Dacian Falx" as a super weapon
"Doctor Duncan" wrote:
Quote:Having just happened upon this (extraordinarily lengthy) thread, I am intrigued to know exactly who suggested that the falx was "some sort of 'super-weapon'" in any case?! I have never come across such an assertion.
...which shows you did not bother to read the thread, for the assertion is made more than once in its course, that the 'falx' was such a deadly 'super-weapon', and so effective, that it caused the Romans to modify their armour and equipment. This view has gained acceptance particularly among wargamers and re-enactors, and others interested in Trajan's Dacian Wars, and was first put forward by Phil Barker (in the UK) around 1970.

And why do you consider this an "extraordinarily lengthy thread"? At six pages or so it is fairly typical - and not even in the same league as others such as the "Sub Roman Britain (cavalry etc) thread, now on its forty-fifth page, or the various "linothorax" debate threads......
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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Quote:You said it yourself: there are similar looking weapons, as the scimitar, but only in Asia.
Only in Asia? There were four or five versions used in the Napoleonic wars alone. The scimitar/sabre was very common among cavalry troops all over the world. The Polish szabla is yet another version of the same weapon. This is a good article on British cavalry sabres during the Napoleonic Wars.
http://swordforum.com/articles/ams/cavalrycombat.php

Quote:So we can say the same about the falx - it was used in a special way, very different from the Roman one.
Yes. It was an agricultural tool that was adopted for battle the same way that a European scythe or pitchfork was sometimes pressed into service. Even the Roman dolabra was used in combat occasionally. It doesn't stop its primary function from being a tool.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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Quote:...which shows you did not bother to read the thread, ...
I did try, but (as I said) it is extraordinarily lengthy.
Quote:... the assertion is made more than once in its course, that the 'falx' was such a deadly 'super-weapon', ... This view has gained acceptance particularly among wargamers and re-enactors, and others interested in Trajan's Dacian Wars, and was first put forward by Phil Barker (in the UK) around 1970.
Must be why I've never come across it, if it's a wargamers' hobby-horse. Thanks for putting that straight.
posted by Duncan B Campbell
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Nice examples indeed Dan!Very similar shape, eastern traditions, etc. But these weapons cut on the outside and the scimitar (yatagan) cuts on the inside.
Anyway all that trip along the sables - swords history is not gonna get us anywhere.
So let's bet back to the super-weapon.
1. It is more likely that the falx evolved from a tool but by the time of Dacian wars it was a weapon.
2. the Romans didn't call it falx because it was one, but because it look like one. (they have never seen before a weapon like that so they adapted a name for it)
(dolabra was found in military contexts, so is a military tool)
am I not annoying? :twisted:
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You might need to try a different hoplological lexicon. "Scimitar" is an English corruption of the Persian shamshir. Shamshirs are sabres with the edge on the outside like all sabres. I didn't mention the yatagan because it isn't a scimitar. The yataghan is a lot like a rhomphia in function. It doesn't have much in common with a falx. The closest resemblance to the Dacian falx is a sickle or scythe - both farming tools. The only weapon I can think of that even remotely resembles the falx is the African shotel.

Quote:1. It is more likely that the falx evolved from a tool but by the time of Dacian wars it was a weapon.
How do you define weapon?
There is nothing to suggest that a member of the warrior class ever used the falx in battle
There is no precedent for this typology ever being used by a warrior class of other cultures - just peasants grabbing whatever farm tools (i.e. scythes) were nearby.
There is plenty of evidence for this typology being used as a farming implement all over the world. Whenever a sickle-blade gets modified for the battlefield it invariably gets straightened so that the curve is not so pronounced.
Those who actually handle swords will tell you that it is not a practical design. It handles awkwardly; is no better at cutting than a real sword; parries are difficult; cannot be sheathed and transported easily; cannot be used in formation.
Go back to Paul's original post. The so-called "Dacian falx" was a farming tool. It can be called a weapon only in so far that it was sometimes used for fighting but that doesn't change its primary agricultural purpose.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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Quote:
Paullus Scipio:2fx53gmm Wrote:...which shows you did not bother to read the thread, ...
I did try, but (as I said) it is extraordinarily lengthy.
Six pages is "extraordinarily lengthy"? There are plenty of threads longer than that. They must be extraextraordinarily lengthy.
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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Quote:"Scimitar" is an English corruption of the Persian shamshir. Shamshirs are sabres with the edge on the outside like all sabres. I didn't mention the yatagan because it isn't a scimitar. The yataghan is a lot like a rhomphia in function. It doesn't have much in common with a falx. The closest resemblance to the Dacian falx is a sickle or scythe - both farming tools. The only weapon I can think of that even remotely resembles the falx is the African shotel.

The only weapon similar with a Falx is a Sica, some of them are almost identical, they differ just in dimensions
[Image: 000.jpg]
[Image: 000.jpg]
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http://www.scribd.com/doc/33875732/Bora ... V-7-8-2009
http://cheiron.humanities.mcmaster.ca/~ ... 6.16.h.jpg
[Image: 2.63.h.jpg]

Quote:How do you define weapon?
There is nothing to suggest that a member of the warrior class ever used the falx in battle
There is no precedent for this typology ever being used by a warrior class of other cultures - just peasants grabbing whatever farm tools (i.e. scythes) were nearby.
There is plenty of evidence for this typology being used as a farming implement all over the world. Whenever a scythe-blade gets modified for the battlefield it invariably gets refitted so that it is no longer right-angles to the handle.
Those who actually handle swords will tell you that it is not a practical design. It handles awkwardly; is no better at cutting than a real sword; parries are difficult; cannot be sheathed and transported easily; cannot be used in formation.
Go back to Paul's original post. The so-called "Dacian falx" was a farming tool. It can be called a weapon only in so far that it was sometimes used for fighting but that doesn't change its primary argicultural purpose.

Are you really read what was write before, or just took everything from the last post you saw?
-a falx blade was marked with a symbol with role of protection and a mystico-ritualic one
-schytes as we know them today wasnt in use in Europe at that moment
-see here about the Falx and scabbard
http://www.scribd.com/doc/33876270/Bora ... bus-I-2009
"The fossilized remains of leather, discovered in the case of one example, strenghten the assumption that this type of curvature allowed the sword to be ke[t in a scabard"

Dont want to offense you or something, but i really dont think you are an expert in swords who fight using a Falx against an oponent armed as Romans back then and saw it is impractical. Quite contrary, the ones who meet them in battle, Romans, find them quite a nasty weapons to fight against. Ofcourse, they refered themselves to Sica too probably, or any other type of curved weapons from Dacian arsenal. And well, pretty much all you said was already contradicted in other posts
Repeting the same suposition or giving as reference another forumist post isnt a definitive prouve as being an exclusevly agricultural tool.
As Nina said, even if sometime at its beginings, Falx like sword was in fact an agricultural tool (my opinion is that in fact Falx is a direct development of Sica), by the time of Traian Dacian wars it was definitely a battle sword
Razvan A.
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Dear Dan,
sorry for the misunderstanding, I was talking about the yataghan. And please go back to my posts. I didn't made a parallel between the yataghan and falx. C'mon man, nobody does that - a parallel between artifacts from different time periods Smile ! I used this particular object to point out my ideea of a different weapon used in a different style.
You have here two types of Dacian scythes (older and newer discoveries):
http://www.editie.ro/new/pozearticole/i ... -Valea-Rea
http://www.verticalonline.ro/wp-content ... dacice.gif
tell me, witch one looks more like the falx?
A tribe union without a warrior elite??
An object used bouth as tool and weapon in the same time??
Who said the Dacians hade to fight in organised formation as Romans did??
As for the evidence, the Trajan's column, the historical writings, the archaeological discoveries and the opinion of today specialists (all posted allready) are good enough for me.
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Well I've posted a selection of the single-handed falx carvings here: link from old RAT but having seen many different types of curved blades all over Bulgaria (and the only falx blade found in Romania) I believe that they were manufactured locally and not to a single design. The blades are of various sizes and shapes and I believe this shows a certain amount of experimentation and a possibilty certainly existed for a two-handed design to be put into practice, as it was in Thrace. I have a complete collection of the two-handed Dacian/Bastarnae blade depictions (there are several that are not usually seen) but I'm saving them for my book, which is now listed on Amazon as being available in March next year link from old RAT . The most interesting pictures of the falx were posted on RAT some time ago at link from old RAT - these tend to support the contention that a two-handed falx was used by the emperor's bodyguard, if only to scare the crowd!

Cheers,

Chris W.
Christopher Webber

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Sitalkes/Chris W. wrote:-
Quote:I have a complete collection of the two-handed Dacian/Bastarnae blade depictions (there are several that are not usually seen) but I'm saving them for my book,
I can match that boast......and I've had it for over 30 years !! As the old Yorkshire saying has it, "There's nowt new under the sun! "

The problem is, as was explored on the thread, coin depictions are small and lacking in detail generally, and the soldiers seem to have shields - which means their 'falxes' (curved blades) are probably single-handed 'sicas' - which we know were in use by Dacian auxiliary troops. Whatever object the figure is holding on the Marcus Aurelius 'adlocutio', it doesn't bear much resemblance to the two-handed 'falx' of Adamklissi - the shape is different, the handle 'flares out' to a thickness too big to grip, there seems to be a small handle on the end of the object etc. and, as was noted in the thread, this is long after the Dacian Wars ( but then Caracalla wanted to revive the Macedonian phalanx!) Furthermore even if Imperial Guards DID carry a two-handed 'falx', where is the link to 'Dacia' ? It could have been adopted from a 'Bastarnae' weapon/tool....... ( it is the single-handed 'sica' type that is clearly linked to Dacia). The Adamklissi 'two-handed chopper' is not 'derived from' or 'adapted from' or anything else - it IS the tool pure and simple, as can be seen by comparisons.

Nor does the presence of a mark ( and that on only one or two examples) "prove" it is a weapon....the mark could be anything, and most likely a maker's mark! There is no evidence whatsoever to suggest it is some 'mystical warrior' mark....

Nina wrote:-
Quote:You have here two types of Dacian scythes (older and newer discoveries):
To avoid confusion, it must be pointed out that while 'falx'( latin: 'curved blade') could be used to describe a scythe, no-one, as far as I know links the Adamklissi 'chopper' to scythes in any way.....but it is identical to a completely different tool universally used for coppicing, hedge trimming and the like which is still in use today, referred to by various names - 'slashing hook', 'splashing hook', 'hedge trimmer' etc ( see previous posts)

Quote:An object used bouth as tool and weapon in the same time??
Agricultural tools have been used as weapons all through history......and I gave the example of even well-equipped Roman Legionaries resorting to a tool - a "two-handed chopper" - the 'dolabra'/pickaxe, against well-armoured opponents.......
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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Dear Paul,
in my job, when I want to find an analogy, I look for contemporary artifacts with the one I'm studying and in the same ethnic area.
the Dacian wars were not spontaneous riots for Dacians or Romans to use tools in battle. That hypothesis is highly unlikely.
dolabra is a military tool. it was used in battle in very specific conditions.
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Quote:Dear Paul,
in my job, when I want to find an analogy, I look for contemporary artifacts with the one I'm studying and in the same ethnic area.
the Dacian wars were not spontaneous riots for Dacians or Romans to use tools in battle. That hypothesis is highly unlikely.
dolabra is a military tool. it was used in battle in very specific conditions.
Why is it unlikely? The situations are exactly alike....in one, Roman legionaries come up against heavily armoured opponents ( gaulish 'crupellariii gladiators) and resort to an available 'two-handed chopper' - the dolabra/pickaxe ( which incidently was not just a military tool, but a civilian one as well).

In the second instance, Bastarnae tribesmen, when faced with the identical problem ( heavily armoured opponents) very likely came up with exactly the same expedient - to extemporise and use a 'two handed chopper' ( the so-called two-handed 'falx', an agricutural tool/brush-cutter/coppicing tool/hedge trimmer, not a 'modified' or 'adapted' tool, but the exact same one.)
Even Romanian and Bulgarian archaeologists recognise this, by being unable to state whether their finds are tools or weapons.....

BTW, almost the exact same tool is STILL in use in the Danube delta ( part of the Bastarnae homelands at the time) to cut reeds.... Smile D
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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Quote: the dolabra/pickaxe ( which incidently was not just a military tool, but a civilian one as well)

really? where? (choose something else, not the miner's pick-axes)
of course they did! on daily bases!pick-axes against forkes and torches against hammers. and they ware pointy hats too... :lol:
those tools still in use in Romania - their name is cosor/cosoare (in Romanian) and are knifes.(my grandfather had a few, I used them)
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Quote:... the assertion is made more than once in its course, that the 'falx' was such a deadly 'super-weapon', ... This view has gained acceptance particularly among wargamers and re-enactors, and others interested in Trajan's Dacian Wars, and was first put forward by Phil Barker (in the UK) around 1970.
Quote:Must be why I've never come across it, if it's a wargamers' hobby-horse. Thanks for putting that straight.

Under WRG 6th & 7th edition (and "Warrior") rules the falx was categorised as a "Two Handed Cutting Weapon" which was a good all-round weapon. It was not as good as a pilum + sword against infantry, or a long spear vs cavalry, but had a chance against them even if they were armoured and it was great fun to have a weapon in this class as it always did huge amounts of damage to both its owners and its targets. Thus it was a super weapon as it tore holes in the ranks of both players and inspired the imagination. Subsequent rule sets (eg DBM, FoG) have downgraded this weapon class and it is no longer regarded as a super weapon even by wargamers. Under DBM it is classed as a "Blade" which is the same as a pilum+sword (though usually other factors make it inferior overall). DBM lists also often subsumed that type of weapon into the "superior auxilia" category, which was alwyas an average troop type and never a super troop. Under FoG the Dacian army lists allow much fewer falx-armed troops (and they are mainly Bastarnae). The FoG rules make the falx a very chancy weapon to use, with about an equal possibility of a win and a loss in most circumstances - an average weapon, not a super weapon.
Christopher Webber

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