Full Version: 3rd century Roman sword hilt (?)
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a friend sent me this picture of a recent find from Noricum (Aguntum/Austria). It is 18 cm and made of cast bronze decorated with copper, silver and niello. This could either be a sword hilt or part of a statue, in any case it illustrates the lavish decoration such items could have:

Wow Jens! Virtual laudes for this VERY interesting pic Confusedhock: ...
A superb and very beautiful find. What's the basis for the dating?
Wow!!! That is a work of art!
So it is possible for Spatha and Gladius to have more than a simple grip arrangement.
Looks a lot like the 2nd/3rd Cent grip on my wise.
Obviously this was not a simple Decurio's sword!
well it looks nice and different as all I have seen till now.
To my eyes, the decorative style looks Asian. Any possibility of a Middle Eastern origin for this piece?
Well the scroll work looks a lot like that on some decorated pugio plates.
Which pugios are you thinking of, Byron? CELER and I discussed yesterday en route to TORM, and while the shape is very Roman, the decoration looks more 15th/ 16th century? But I'd like to hear more about the details of the find before making any conclusions.
If you look at the edge scroll/wave form, it is very much like the Melun decoration
on a certain silver decorated Pugio?
Possibly it is a decoration from later period, but it looks very much like it is applied to a Roman hilt. perhaps recycling of a weapon?
I'm not sure about the design, but the thing that protects your hand from sliding up on to the sword (Pommel, I think it's called???) looks very much like other 3rd Century Spatha finds I've seen.
Thats called the guard! :grin:
The pommel is the knob at the end of the grip.
Yes, I think it is Roman from appearance, and the decoration reminds me of the inlay work on pugio,
so it is an interesting piece.
How long ago was it found and where was it found, and what kind of layer was it found in?
Hmmm - I have to say that it does not remind me of the decoration used on any pugios or sheaths I am familiar with.

That said, it is certainly a magnificent piece and I would like to know a lot more about it. If it were Roman I would guess a third century date from the shape, but I agree that the decoration looks more Asiatic. Thanks for bringing it to our attention Jens.

Could it be sassanid? I wouldn't be surprised if they used a version of the spatha.
The canon of forms on this piece fits very well into Roman context. The "running dog" in silver along the edges is typical for pugio-decorations in inlay-technique in the first century (e.g. Melun), also the acanthus ranks and leaves are typical "Roman" (at that time) for inlay / niello works.
Nothing in the style or execution seems to rule it out from being 3rd century, but it's tiny. If it is only 18cm long in total then the grip is only 7cm long.

It would be possible to use a handshake grip rather than a hammer grip with this style of hilt but, even so, 7cm seems very short. Too short? Early medieval Scandinavian swords are notoriously small-hilted but the average length of those is about 9cm.
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