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Quote:Most people say this is a circus theme.
http://www.flickr.com/photos/derianlebreton/699783090/
The guys are not soldiers, but "Theriomachoi" The spears are hunting spears akin to the medieval "pig-stick".

I agree. This picture was used purely to show a possible configuration of the head.

Quote: As I posted before I believe that the menavlio was a heavy javelin like the pilum.

The problem with that is that there is no mention in any of the sources of their being used as a missile . On the contrary, they are held to fend off cavalry. To quote the Praecepta: "If it should happen . . . that the three-deep spears of the infantrymen are smashed by the enemy kataphraktoi, then the menavlatoi, firmly set, stand their ground bravely to receive the charge of the kataphraktoi and turn them away."

Regarding the length of the head, the Praecepta has it as two or two and a half spithamai, while the Taktika has one and a half or two.

But this is the unit that is in doubt. Using Schilbach's value of the spithame as 9 inches, the head is 18-22 inches in the Praecepta and 15-18 inches in the Taktika. But if the proposed value of 6 inches is used, that becomes 12-15 inches or 9-12 inches. The top of the range is a little large, but not really huge, and it's comparable to - or smaller than - the 14 inches quoted for the heads of kontaria.
Quote:Urselius wrote:-
Quote:I can see no advantage in having a long blade on the end of a purely thrusting weapon.
....well, the Zulus would disagree with you ! Smile
...their success came from turning a javelin-like assegai with a small head into a thrusting/stabbing weapon with a huge blade almost as big as the shaft! Confusedhock: ........

The ixwa had a very short haft, the heavy wide blade wasn't on the end of a 12ft+ shaft. In effect it was a shortsword made by a people with no history of swordmaking. The head was large in order to make a large abdominal wound which would immediately incapacitate the opponent. The Zulu and their enemies were also effectively naked, their only protection was the bull-hide shield, which the ixwa was not expected to pierce in any case.

Using a large spear head on a long shaft for dealing with heavily armoured foes by thrusting isn't likely to be very profitable, in my opinion.
Urselius wrote:-
Quote:Using a large spear head on a long shaft for dealing with heavily armoured foes by thrusting isn't likely to be very profitable, in my opinion.

...O.K., if the Zulu 'iKlwa' is not a close enough analogy ( and it was meant light heartedly in the broadest sense, to show a thrusting weapon could have a large head), what about the Macedonian sarissa ?

The head found by Andronikos which he identified as that of a sarissa
is 0.51 m(19") long, with a leaf blade some 0.3 m (12")- the remainder being socket, and it weighed 1.24 kg. It was designed for use against shielded and armoured opponents.
Although some doubt whether this large head really is a sarissa head on 'balance' grounds, so far no other likely candidate has emerged......( and a large butt was found with it)
Quote:
Quote:Is this the kite with a rounded or a flat top? The large flat-top seems to come in about the 14th century; the round-top is considerably earlier.

...the original rounded top, that spread rapidly west, to be used by Normans and French.... the flat-topped variety had appeared perhaps as early as 1170-1180 , and is shown for example on a seal of Richard 1 of England....

That's true for Western Europe (and Outremer). Byzantium and the countries in its region of influence (notably Bulgaria and Serbia) seem to have started using big flat-topped kites, as seen slung over the back of the warrior here, about the 14th century. Certainly, that's the earliest I've seen them appear.
Quote:That's true for Western Europe (and Outremer). Byzantium and the countries in its region of influence (notably Bulgaria and Serbia) seem to have started using big flat-topped kites, as seen slung over the back of the warrior here, about the 14th century. Certainly, that's the earliest I've seen them appear.

...sorry, Steven, I thought you meant its original introduction :oops: .....I would agree that its earliest depiction in Byzantine art is the 14 C. around the time of the early Ottoman wars....
I have to say that I would agree with Stefanos ( and many others) that the menavlion was a heavy throwing weapon. Leaving aside Steven's problems with measurements for a moment we have:-
"The menavlion was 6' long with an 18" head and was as thick as a man could grasp."
....which sounds like a good description of a pilum. The description in the Nikephori Praecepta ( which I only have second-hand information from) in particular leaves little doubt that a heavy throwing weapon is meant. Relevant here is the requirement that it be made of oak, cornel or artzikidion so as not to splinter or shatter.Clearly only an armour-piercing thrown weapon would have such a requirement ( spear-type weapons are generally made of lighter woods such as Ash, but use of Cornel for throwing weapons goes back at least as far as the Early Achmaenid Persians)
Quote: the Praecepta: "If it should happen . . . that the three-deep spears of the infantrymen are smashed by the enemy kataphraktoi, then the menavlatoi, firmly set, stand their ground bravely to receive the charge of the kataphraktoi and turn them away."
...note here it is the troops who stand firmly...nothing here precludes a heavy throwing weapon.
A further clue comes from the tactical employment generally of such troops. In Maurice's Strategikon ( admittedly earlier late 6-7C, but the tactics go back to Arrian and beyond and into the future too )...in brief, the first rank plant their spears at 45 degrees, and brace against the shock ( as if horses are going to impale themselves!..but it does give the men confidence.) The second rank lower spears to receive the charge, while covering the first rank with their shields. The third and fourth ranks throw martiobarbuli, then their kontarii, before physically supporting with their shields in the backs of prior ranks. At first sight , it may seem odd to throw 12 ft kontarion, but there is a reason - at close range the heavier spears will be more effective against armour, with heavier impetus/impact.
It is likely these troops who received the the 'menaulion', logically enough, to serve this function, because it was better for the purpose, and unlike lighter wood (Ash etc) spears/kontarii, wouldn't shatter on impact.
All the above, to me, suggests that the menavlion was a heavy throwing weapon.
I am of the opinion that in absence of better evidence the "kite" shield was an evolution of the Thracian "egg-shaped" sield of the hellenistic period and some 8th century Byzantine manuscripts show "egg-shaped" shields that most of people interprete as "kite".
Kind regards
Well, I think we've probably got almost as far as we can with the menavlion debate, apart from the following:

Returning for a moment to the measurement issue, the menavlion was 9-12 feet long, not six. Not saying that couldn't be thrown, but perhaps less suitable for the purpose.

However, looking again through the Praecepta's instructions to kataphraktoi in attacking the enemy's infantry formation, I discovered the following interesting quote:

Quote:On the assumption that the enemy infantry force is of heavy infantry [skoutaratoi], if they are standing in front of their cavalry units, our kataphraktoi must not be afraid but should instead proceed very calmly and aim the front of the triangular formation directly at the spot where the enemy leader is standing. Then the spears of the enemy infantrymen standing in front of their cavalry will be smashed by our kataphraktoi, while their arrows and the menavlia of their javeliners [rhiptariston]will be ineffective because of the armour of our kataphraktoi.
(Rhiptein is to throw, to cast).

Maybe Paullus is right, after all!

I'm certainly thinking very carefully about the above. It seems to appear only in the Praecepta, not in the Taktika. I suppose it's possible the word rhiptariston was a scribal or author's error, but that's a slippery slope, and against the very arguments I made earlier in this thread. We can only work with what we've got.

Add that to the fact that in both the Praecepta and the Taktika the menavlatoi are lumped in with the javeliners in having smaller shields than the heavy infantry - in the same sentence - and a trend seems to be developing. Certainly, a small shield wouldn't be of any particular advantage to a man with a thrusting shield - otherwise all the spearmen would have them. But for a man throwing a spear? Particularly a heavy one?

As the guy in the helmet on Laugh-In used to say - VE-R-R-RY interesting . . .
That picture seems to have elements missing Egforth, was it restored?
Quote:That picture seems to have elements missing Egforth, was it restored?

I really have no idea. I'm not really all that familiar with the picture. I know it's 14th century Bulgarian, and I could probably find out where it is, but that's about it. I've certainly seen some frescoes that have been comprehensively restored over the centuries, but also others that don't seem to have been touched at all. Your guess is as good as mine.
Quote:As the guy in the helmet on Laugh-In used to say - VE-R-R-RY interesting . . .

He said Verrry interesting .... but stupid. Big Grin
Peter Raftos has alerted me on another forum to a paper by Tim Dawson on the measurement issue:-

'Fit for the Task: Equipment Sizes and the Transmission of Military Lore, sixth to tenth centuries', Byzantine and Modern Greek Studies, 31 (2007).

you can buy it online at http://www.ingentaconnect.com/content/m ... 1/art00001


Abstract:
Quote:The interpretation of the measurements given in Byzantine military manuals from the sixth to the tenth centuries has been a problematic matter. If the main conclusions of currently accepted scholarship are applied, an appearance is created of equipment much too large to be usable. When the measurements are compared to equipment which practical experience and comparable history show to be functional, it can be seen that as the middle Byzantine period progressed units of measurement were devalued. The sources also reveal the processes whereby military lore was transmitted, including accidental corruption and deliberate revision.

Document Type: Research article

DOI: 10.1179/030701306X115797

The full text article is available for purchase $36.00 plus tax


I'll be ordering my copy. Looking forward to seeing what it says.
Quote:
Paullus Scipio:33rp14n5 Wrote:
Quote:Is this the kite with a rounded or a flat top? The large flat-top seems to come in about the 14th century; the round-top is considerably earlier.

...the original rounded top, that spread rapidly west, to be used by Normans and French.... the flat-topped variety had appeared perhaps as early as 1170-1180 , and is shown for example on a seal of Richard 1 of England....

That's true for Western Europe (and Outremer). Byzantium and the countries in its region of influence (notably Bulgaria and Serbia) seem to have started using big flat-topped kites, as seen slung over the back of the warrior here, about the 14th century. Certainly, that's the earliest I've seen them appear.


Cheers for that guys, the first half of the 14th century was also my thought as well. Might be interesting to have one made though just to see how well they handle as opposed to the normal variety of kite. Nice to see a decent contemporary image of a shield with regards to profile and internal detail Smile
Oh almost forgot :oops: , HAPPY NEW YEAR everyone Big Grin
That paper of Tim Dawson's is quite excellent - it covers just about everything we've been discussing, including weapon sizes (covered much more comprehensively than we have above), and the use of the menavlion.

I'd still had my doubts about the menavlion being a heavy javelin, particularly as it was really only based upon one word in the Praecepta. (The smaller shield, by the way, isn't really a conclusive argument in favour of the menavlion being a missile. It would be just as appropriate to a heavy spear held in both hands as it would to a javelineer).

And I find Tim has the same opinion as to its use. He outlines the evidence which leads him to the conclusion that it was a heavy thrusting spear to be used against charging kataphraktoi in conjunction with the longer, lighter kontaria of the regular troops. And shows photos of the array he believes to have been used, and why. VERY interesting (but not stupid!)

Worth a read!

Oh, and Kuura, here's another representation of the same type of shield for your information and enjoyment.
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