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Full Version: Use of the spear in two hands on horseback
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A discussion on another forum got me thinking: how do we know that some ancient cavalry used their lances two-handed? The usual suspects, like the Dura Europos graffiti and the Sassanid royal reliefs, don't clearly show a two-handed grip; the only picture I can find is an Italian silver bowl of +VI or +VII. I think there are some central Asian images somewhere ... I just can't find proof.
Have a look in my new book "The Gods of Battle" where this topic is discussed extensively. You can see two-handed holds in some Macedonian tomb paintings and the Alexander mosaic and in the Kazanluk tomb. I argue that a lance had a spear-butt/counterweight on the rear end as well as being (in later versions) tapered to allow for the two-handed hold and a longer reach. http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2852
There are also several tombstone from Roman Contarii showing a two-handed grip. Like Adiutor's tombstone from Tipasa:
Have you tried using a spear of that length one handed??? Confusedhock:
Thanks for the references. I've learned to be suspicious when I "know" something but can't remember the evidence.

Quote:Have you tried using a spear of that length one handed??? Confusedhock:
What length? Ancient cavalry spears ranged from 6 to 12 feet long with a wide variety of heads and butts and haft thicknesses. The ones I thought were used two-handed were the longer and heavier sort, but you can use quite a long lance in one hand (witness the Alexander Mosaic or the experiments published by Peter Connolly).
Quote:Have a look in my new book "The Gods of Battle" where this topic is discussed extensively. You can see two-handed holds in some Macedonian tomb paintings and the Alexander mosaic and in the Kazanluk tomb. I argue that a lance had a spear-butt/counterweight on the rear end as well as being (in later versions) tapered to allow for the two-handed hold and a longer reach. http://www.pen-and-sword.co.uk/?product_id=2852
Until I can see your book, do you remember who in the Alexander mosaic (link) holds a spear two-handed? Alexander holds his xyston one-handed, so does the man in the Boeotian helmet behind him, the standing Persian holds his palton one-handed, and we can't tell how the Persians in the background carry their long lances.
The Kinch TombSorry, should have checked, I was thinking of the Kinch tomb but in fact that's a single hold, too. Perhaps different saddles were required for a double-handed hold. http://www.macedonian-heritage.gr/Hellen..._D14d.html. This argument is in my book because The type of hold used suggests that Thracian cavalry could have been using lances. Phil Sidnell discusses how only two types of hold were possible and describes Peter Conolley's experiments in his book on ancient cavalry, you should look at that, too.

Cheers,

Chris