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Anonymous

Hello all,<br>
<br>
I've become interested more and more with the Roman sword of the third Century. In just about every refence book I have from M.Feugere, P.Collony, to I.P Stephenson there is only about a paragraph mentioned on the Short sword of the third Century, or what they believe to be from the third Century. Everything is on the Spatha and how it was the dominate sword of the Legionary of that period. This must in part be due to the limited information available I'm guessing.<br>
<br>
So my question is. What were these short swords? Are they left over Gladius's from the 2nd Century? Are they obvious alternatives to the Spatha, and how widely were they used, and what was their roll. Was it just a large verion of the Pugio/Dagger in use in the Third Century?<br>
<br>
The fighting style of that period was obviously changed/different as the 65-100cm length of the Spatha shows. However as archeological finds show, there were still some short "semi spatha's"/ gladius type weapons in use during that period.<br>
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Can anyone provide any reference material or information on this?<br>
<br>
Cheers<br>
Markus<br>
<br>
P.S Can someone explain the forging technique of the Roman Sword? My understanding is that it was not as simple as hammering out a peice of iron. They used a layering technique??.... <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

The short sword was never totally abandoned and there are many surviving examples dating from the IIIrd to the VIth and even VIIth centuries AD.<br>
A type knows as the ring pommel sword appeared round the IIIrd C.A.D. Various lenghts have been found, from gladius to spatha size. In some cases the blade is even shorter than a gladius and in some others the weapon is single eged.<br>
Contrary to the earlier gladius the blade section is not lozenge shaped anymore but a flattened oval and the point is rather short.<br>
Another interesting type of short sword from the late empire period and maybe originating from the Caucasus features a notch at the base of the blade that looks pretty much like a sword breaker and suggests maybe a two swords type of fencing such as practiced during the Renaissance with the rapier and the "main gauche", a long dagger fitted with a notch in which you could catch you opponent's blade and break it. These swords too are no more than 60 cms in lenght.<br>
As for the damas technique --alternating layers of hard steel and softer iron-- it seems to have appeared round the IIIrd C.A.D. somewhere in central Europe although I suspect it comes from further east than that, maybe the Pakistan/Afghanistan area. <p></p><i></i>

John Maddox Roberts

Antonius:<br>
Are any pictures available of this notched sword? I am reminded of the gladiator type called the "Dimachaerus," who fought with two swords rather than sword and shield. Such a feature might have been useful in this type of fighting. <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

John,<br>
I'll be able to put the pictures in there soon as the post office cares to deliver the PCU cooler fan I ordered a week ago. But for now my computer is down...<br>
Some have questioned the use of that notch as a sword breaker, without however giving a better explanation, like the notch being part of the guard construction. <p></p><i></i>
Hi all,<br>
<br>
This is all very interesting to me. I always was under the impression that the short sword was all discontinued in it's usage toward the later empire.<br>
<br>
Regards,<br>
NH <p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

thanks for the responses guys. Anyone know where I can get some pictures/scans of some of these swords? Short sword and notched ones?<br>
<br>
Cheers<br>
Markus <p></p><i></i>

John Maddox Roberts

Nighthunter:<br>
The gladius was discontinued from legionary service in the later empire, but it continued to be used by gladiators until the end of the munera. Often it was so short that it became little more than a dagger. <p></p><i></i>
I have always thought one of the best pieces of evidence for the continuous use of the short sword by some units into the 3rd century and beyond is the famous rectangular Dura Europos shield. If the type was designed to be used in combat as I believe it was, then surely it was used with a short sword just like in earlier centuries. Fighting with the spatha was completely different and did not demand the rectangular curved shield. All the evidence we have links a short sword (and the pilum as well for that matter) to this type of shield.<br>
<br>
Best regards,<br>
<br>
Sassanid<br>
<p></p><i></i>

Anonymous

IIRC the oval shield started to be used from the C2nd at least and there is at least 1 piece of evidence from the C1st from Mainz (again IIRC) of a legionarius with an oval shield.<br>
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I don't think we actually have any evideence of any change of fighting style associated with either the oval shield or a longer sword and nneitheer demand a change in style.<br>
<br>
Ross Cowan's latest Osprey on the legionarii from 161-284 makes some good points on this subject. <p></p><i></i>
Hi Sassanid,<br>
I am not sure it is really all that clear how the rectangular shield was used. In particular I feel there was no clear cut difference in the use of the rectangular shield as compared the use of the late roman large round shield. What do you have in mind?<br>
<br>
ciao <p></p><i></i>
Hi Godfredo & Nikgaukroger,<br>
<br>
I have just read Ross Cowan’s comments on the sword. My book arrived this morning. I do not entirely agree with him. I agree, the longer sword had a point and could stab, but it is a very different weapon to the short sword, and in my humble opinion was used more often in a different way. To quote Stephenson, “cut and thrust, as opposed to thrust and cut.<br>
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The standard sword and shield started to change from around the mid second century onwards. Why? Fashion or a change in type of fighting required from the legions. It certainly did not happen overnight. Indeed the short sword never entirely disappeared. Did the legions have to become more flexible, as the auxiliaries had been in the past? In my opinion that is why the sword and shield changed over a period of time. By the 4th century the process was complete, and sword became a secondary weapon in the set battle. The fact swords become more ornate, expensive and possibly revered may even back this theory up, less likely to get damaged and more of a status symbol. That though is probably one step too far, as how often were there set battles.<br>
<br>
I am radical or just plain wrong? I would be grateful for any other views. I thought this one might stir up something. The Dura rectangular shield has always intrigued me.<br>
<br>
Cheers,<br>
<br>
Sassanid<br>
<p></p><i></i>
Quote:As for the damas technique --alternating layers of hard steel and softer iron-- it seems to have appeared round the IIIrd C.A.D. somewhere in central Europe although I suspect it comes from further east than that, maybe the Pakistan/Afghanistan area.

<p></p><i></i>

Hello,

Could somebody inform me about the damas technique? Which are the texts which speak about this technique? Do you have any references about the technique during the Roman period but also at the begin of Middle Ages.

Thanks for your attention,
There is good evidence that the fighting style involved in using a deeply curved shield is different from using a flat or mildly dished shield. The evidence is primarily graphic, and is discussed in two volumes published by Chivalry Bookshelf, as SPADA I and SPADA II. The articles are written by Stephen Hand.

A flat or mildly dished shield can be wielded as a weapon in ways other than a deeply curved shield. A fighter with a deeply curved shield is highly protected as long as he fights with his body inside the curve of his shield. The shield doesn't protect any other person. A large flat or mildly dished shield was often held at arms length from the bearer, and the edges could be used to attack an enemy, or catch his weapon or shield. Flattish shields tend to extend sideways, and could be used for shield walls or in a phalanx to guard the fighter standing next to you. A flattish shield is also much better at protecting the sword arm of the user than most deeply curved shields.
Quote:Another interesting type of short sword from the late empire period and maybe originating from the Caucasus features a notch at the base of the blade that looks pretty much like a sword breaker and suggests maybe a two swords type of fencing such as practiced during the Renaissance with the rapier and the "main gauche", a long dagger fitted with a notch in which you could catch you opponent's blade and break it. These swords too are no more than 60 cms in lenght

Anyone have any pictures of the notched blade ?
There is a discussion on the layered techniques os blade maunfacture being more the norm in Roman metal work than is admitted/given due.
It was on a discussion on pugio blades, can't remeber which one off hand, but it soon included gladius blades...... was quite interesting and might be useful to your enquiries! Smile
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