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The "Myth" of the "Dacian Falx" as a super weapon
#1
In this thread, I am hoping to demonstrate that the idea of a ‘Dacian two-handed falx’ as some sort of ‘super weapon’ is not supported by the evidence, such as it is, and in so doing, show the dangers of too much speculation theorised on too little hard fact, and how such speculation can lead to the building of a ‘Myth’.
In fact, I am hoping to demonstrate that the evidence actually suggests that the ‘two-handed chopper’ in question is neither exclusively Dacian, nor a ‘super-weapon’, and in fact is probably not a designed weapon at all, but rather an improvised one.

First, let us review the evidence, the main part of which seems to be:
1. Depiction of warriors on the Adamklissi monument of Trajan’s Wars ( 100-105 AD) using ‘two-handed choppers’ associated with a massacre amongst wagons. This scene is also depicted on Trajan’s column, though on the column no ‘two-handed’ choppers are seen. The ‘choppers’ do appear however on the ‘Tropaeum’ base along with Dacian and Sarmatian trophies, all shown life-sized as appears to have been customary on such ‘trophies’.
2. Two references to “Dacian Falxes” in later Roman writings – Cornelius Fronto ( 100-170 AD) and Papilius Statius ( late 1st C AD)
3. The finding of a few, but not many, blades of suitable size and form, all over Romania and Bulgaria, but several from the site of the former Dacian capital, Sarmizegethusa.
4. Depictions of curved blades on coins and monuments associated with Dacia.
Looking at the first, almost everything about the supposed “Dacian falx”( two-handed variety) stems from the depictions on the Adamklissi monument, a ‘Tropaeum/Trophy’ almost certainly erected by Trajan and dedicated to ‘Mars the Avenger’. On it, three distinct ‘ethnic groups’ are shown – one in tight trousers and belted knee-length tunics split at the sides, with some presumed to be chiefs on Trajan’s column wearing ‘phrygian’ style caps. These are also shown on Trajan’s column and are clearly Dacians. The second group wear long loose unbelted tunics below the knee and knee length riding type boots and are identifiable as Sarmatian Roxalani. The last, and most significant, are shown in looser trousers and are shown naked to the waist or with ‘celtic’poncho/paenula type cloaks. Some wear skull caps but most are shown with the typical ‘Germanic’ hair knot. They are clearly identifiable as the Celto-Germanic tribe of the Bastarnae. These three groups were allies and fought against Trajan. The weapons shown on the ‘trophy’ base of the column are clearly from all three peoples.
On the ‘metopes’ themselves, the “battle” shown in several scenes is of ONLY the Bastarnae people, defending themselves among their wagons, amidst their women and children, who are all massacred indiscriminately. These warriors, all of whom are either shown being killed, or dead, are the famous ‘two-handed chopper’ wielders and IFAIK, the only depiction anywhere of this ‘weapon’ being used. A few have shields and spears, and one what appears to be a club. This genocidal massacre ( for it is not a ‘battle’ since it involves women and children) may also be briefly alluded to on Trajan’s column where wagons and corpses appear as a background to a battle scene.

NOTE: No Dacian is shown anywhere, either on the Column, or at Adamklissi using a ‘two-handed chopper’, only the Bastarnae, and only on the Adamklissi monument. This latter is not erected anywhere near Dacia, but near the mouth of the Danube, south of the river in Roman territory, opposite the territory on the other side of the river of the Peucini, a Bastarnae tribe.

The second piece of evidence is the Roman writers;
Fronto says, "Trajan engaged the war with hardened soldiers, who despised the Parthians, our enemy, and who didn't care of their arrow blows, after the terrible wounds inflicted by the curved blades/swords of the Dacians."( falx Dacica)
Fronto, Principia Historiae, II
Publius Papilius Statius refers to the “falx” as the “symbol of the Getae” (Dacians) – but in what sense do these writers use the word?
Let us look at the meaning:
Falx
"diminutive. Falcla ( Greek: ????, ????????, dim. ?????????). A sickle; a scythe; a pruning-knife or pruning-hook; a bill; a falchion.
As ‘culter’ denoted a knife with one straight edge, ‘falx’ signified any similar instrument, the single edge of which was curved (???????? ????????; ?????? ????????; curvae falces; curvamine falcis ahenae; adunca falce). By additional epithets the various uses of the falx were indicated, and its corresponding varieties in form and size. Thus the sickle, because it was used by reapers, was called ‘falx messoria’; the scythe, which was employed in mowing hay, was called ‘falx foenaria’; the pruning-knife and the bill, on account of their use in dressing vines, as well as in hedging and in cutting off the shoots and branches of trees, were distinguished by the appellation of falx ‘putatoria’, ‘vinitoria’, ‘arboraria’, or ‘silvatica’, or by the diminutive ‘falcula’."


So in other words a “falx” is ANY curved blade and is a generic word, not specifically meaning a ‘two-handed chopper’ at all. That the Dacians used a curved sword, single handed and with a shield, is not in doubt and will not be further discussed here. The Roman writers associate a ‘curved blade’, not a ‘two-handed chopper’ with the Dacians, and that is not at issue.

Now let us turn to the ‘weapon’ itself. Nowadays, few people realise the great array of agricultural tools and hand implements that were in common use in the past. The reader is invited to examine the attachment and determine which of them are weapons and which agricultural tools. No’s 1,3,5 and 7 and 8 are weapons, right? Wrong! As most may realise, it is a trick question ! ALL are agricultural tools. That includes number 5 which the astute reader will recognise as a ‘typical’ two-handed “Dacian Falx”.

When it comes to hand-tools for dealing with vegetation, Man uses scythes and sickles to deal with thin-stemmed or grass-type plants, then ‘leaf cutters’, ‘pruning knives’ ‘bill-hooks’, ‘slashing/splashing hooks’ and various other names for ‘hedging tools’ used to clear brush, coppicing, and trim vines,hedges and branches, and finally ‘woodsman’s two handed axes’ to deal with the thickest plant stems of tree trunks.
No.1 is in fact an Italian hedging bill or tree pruner,n o.2 a scythe, no.3 has no sharp blade and is a ‘sod-buster’ used for breaking clumps of earth, no.4 a fork, and no. 5 – the “Dacian falx”- is a leaf-cutter/ pruning hook/bill hook. No.2 is a single handed leaf-cutter, and no.s 7&8 are cheap common woodsman’s axes with shapes that date back to the bronze age !

We can now deal with the third piece of evidence, the archaeological examples of blades. In Romania, it is no surprise that blades should be found around Sarmizegetusa, since that is where archaeology is concentrated, and where the culture was suddenly terminated by Trajan. So no surprise that most Romanian examples have been excavated here. Elsewhere, where culture continued, the ‘bill-hooks’, like “Murphy’s shovel” had first handle replaced from time to time, then blade, until they rusted away – but embarrassingly for the “Dacian Falx”/two handed chopper adherents, such blades do in fact turn up all over, so much so that one Romanian commentator has hypothesised that these two-handed “Dacian Falxes” were ‘exported’ to Sarmatian, Celtic and other lands because examples turn up there also!

No.5 is in fact a 19C example from Sweden ! In fact, variants of the so-called “Dacian Falx” are a common agricultural tool found Europe-wide, and indeed similar tools are world-wide!!!

Turning to the fourth piece of evidence, not one of the coin or monument evidence pieces shows an unequivocal ‘two-handed’ chopper associated with Dacia, but rather the single-handed variety. In particular we have a dedication stone from Birdoswald fort, dedicated by “Hadrian’s own First Cohort of Dacians” which depicts the “Falx Dacica” quite clearly as a single-handed curved sword.

So what can we conclude? The evidence suggests:-
1. The only people depicted using the ‘two-handed chopper’ are the doomed Peucini/Bastarnae, victims of genocide by the Romans. ( if it was a ‘super weapon’, why was it not shown in use by the Romans, who were quick to adopt superior foreign equipment, or in use by anyone else for that matter?)

2. The ‘two-handed chopper’ is in fact a common Europe-wide agricultural tool, not exclusive to Dacia at all, and used as an improvised weapon by the Bastarnae.

3. All depictions of the “Dacian Falx” in coins and monuments in the Roman world show a single-handed curved sword – the ‘sica’ - which is commonly accepted as characteristic of Thracian/Getic/Dacian peoples.

All subsequent ideas – e.g. that the ‘two handed chopper’was unique to Dacia, or a ‘super-weapon’ used by Dacians close to the King ( a sort of Royal Guard) , or some sort of Dacian ‘national weapon’ are demonstrably incorrect.

The most plausible explanation of the two-handed weapon shown exclusively on the Adamklissi monument is that it was an agricultural implement, used briefly as an improvised weapon by a Bastarnae tribe subject to Roman genocide, and which then disappeared from history…….

There is much more, but this post is already too long, and I shall add evidence in response to the doubtless outraged supporters of the idea of the two-handed falx as “Dacian Super-Weapon”......... :lol: :lol: :lol: .

What is more, this idea is not new, nor is it mine alone. Jim Webster published the idea that the 'Dacian falx/two handed chopper' was no more than a common agricultural implement as long ago as 1982 in "Slingshot", the magazine of the Society of Ancients, and I am indebted to this article for the attached illustration.
"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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#2
Can't say it didn't cross my mind. Interesting Post.
Visne partem mei capere? Comminus agamus! * Me semper rogo, Quid faceret Iulius Caesar? * Confidence is a good thing! Overconfidence is too much of a good thing.
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#3
Wow Paulus, its a quite long post, and even if i am not outraged, but mostly amused, i need to make some observations (and to say that partialy i agree with some things)

-NOTE- Adamclisi is located close to Danube, at several km. southeast of Dacian kingdom border as it was back then. Mouth of Danubes (north of which was located Bastarnae) are quite far from it, compared with Decebalus Dacian Kingdom. More then that, it was located in a roman teritory, but that teritory was an older Dacian one (there are many ancient mentions about it, names of Dacian/Getae kings who rulled there), and i read somewhere it was discovered even a dacian village near by, destroyed on that war probably. East of Adamclisi is Tomis, part of Burebista kingdom before, and where Ovidius mentioned that he need to learn Getae language to understand with peoples from the city.

1- as i asked you i think more then a year or so ago, why dont you post some images from Tropaeum Traiani, to make some more clear who's who there? I give you a hint, there are some even on wikipedia, and some diferences are pretty clear, even if you look just at the trousers, as you said. Anyway, i wish as well to see a verifyied and reliable source who say that only Bastarnae are shown there in battle.

2- second piece of evidence, the roman writers, say pretty clear for an unbiased and neutral reader that the Falx was a Dacian sword (wasnt called for nothing "Falcibus Dacorum"), and they refer more then probably to "two-handed" one, or in generaly to that one, because Romans adapted their armour specificaly against such sword. I mean here the helmet especialy. You can use a as well a "Sica" to cut a hand or some tendons, around the shield, but for piercing a top of a helmet you need to use a bigger force of a bigger sword, and that was the Falx. As well, the only one battle when they encountered Bastarnae was that from Adamclisi. I dont think the Romans will make such changes to their armour just because of that single fight, but because they constantly meet with this kind of weapons during their campaign (which was mainly against Dacians)

3 - turning to the weapons itself now. It is not impossible that Falx to be a (or to be at least on origin) a simple farm tool. In fact this is not an unusual hypothese, because later (medieval times) was used even the schyte (not yet present at that point in ancient) as a weapon, and there is big curved knives discovered everywhere in Dacia (and still in use today-as shape model-in Romania), called "cosor" - the equivalent in english of pruning knife/tool, and very probable a bigger long handle can be attached to that.
But, there is allways a but. First of all, at one tip of a Falx, discovered at Tilisca (near Sarmisegetuza) was saw that have blood chanel on the blade, and on another almost full blade discovered at Sarmisegetuza was observed a mark, a symbol similar to ones find on many "Sica" short swords/big knives, which is known that was exclusevly used for battle (or, as some theory said, for ritualic ceremonies too). This means that those swords was made exclusevly for battle (you dont make blood chanels, nor ritualic symbols on a blade, if you just use it for cutting twigs or reed).
So it is not imposible that some agricultural tools to be used for battle, but certanly some blades was made specialy for battle, with symbols graved on them, some even with blood channels.
Wheter or not is inspired by some tools is debatable as well. Some Falxes look as exact copies, just on a bigger scale, of some Sica (on one blade was found even the same symbols graved, a kind of mystico-ritualic sign). Sica itself might be a copy of those "cosor"/pruning knife, but adapted for battle, or might be inspired by sickles.

4 - last evidences, monetary one, i already post some images, with a coin, where a female representing Dacia keep a curved sword with a long handle (as long as blade itself) and a visible blood chanel on the middle of the blade (similar with one from the tip of Falx i mentioned previously)

So, to follow you style, we can conclude that:

1- At Adamclisi are shown both Dacians and Bastarnae (if you say so, i dont mind) welding two handed curved blades

2 - Romans asociated the Falx, a curved two handed sword, just with Dacians, and all such exemplaires was found in Dacian teritories, especialy at Sarmisegetuza area.

3 - Even if is possible that some Falx depicted on Adamclisi or Traian Column to be agricultural tools, or inspired by some as such, it is clear that some was battle swords specialy made for this purpose, with ritualic symbols engraved on blade, and having blood chanels. Having that symbol graved on the blade show as well that the owner wasnt a common people, but part of the noble class (Tarabostes) or elite troops made by profesional warriors (Royal Guard if you wish).

4 - Falx was a "super weapon" because forced the Romans to change their armour and tactic right in the middle of campaign, and made such impression as one you mention at Fronto. Romans didnt adopted Falx on any large scale, because they didnt had at that point any enemy similar to them, fighting in close formations and using large shields. Maybe some was used by Dacian auxiliar troops later, i read somewhere, sorry i dont remeber where now, that in one instance the bodyguards, if i remember correct, of Septimius Severus, was Dacians armed with Falxes. But i might be mistake here.

5 - coins related with Dacia show exactly a two handed sword, i can show at least one, you can show me ones with one handed swords ?
Razvan A.
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#4
Fascinating post, Paul! Overall, I like it. Just a couple things niggle in the back of my mind, though.

For starters, I'm a little leery about identifying different tribes by their clothing, at least so categorically. It's just a gut feeling, I'm not about to say "You can't do that!", because I agree that Roman artwork used conventions like that.

I'm also not entirely comfortable with a strict definition of how "falx" may be used in Roman literature. They used a lot of other terms loosely or interchangeably, so a narrow definition makes me a little uneasy.

Finally, it seems a little contradictory that on the one hand you say that ONLY the Bastarnae are using these things, but on the other hand that blades and implements like this are found all over Europe! Just sayin'...

On the whole, though, I certainly agree that the falx in whatever form was not a "super weapon", mostly used by modern scholars to taunt Roman reenactors with yet another example of Roman non-invincibility (which of course we never claimed!).


Quote:...because Romans adapted their armour specificaly against such sword. I mean here the helmet especialy. You can use a as well a "Sica" to cut a hand or some tendons, around the shield, but for piercing a top of a helmet you need to use a bigger force of a bigger sword, and that was the Falx. As well, the only one battle when they encountered Bastarnae was that from Adamclisi. I dont think the Romans will make such changes to their armour just because of that single fight, but because they constantly meet with this kind of weapons during their campaign (which was mainly against Dacians)

Be careful! It is true that we tend to think that modifications such as helmet bracing and the use of manica and greaves was because of the falx, but we don't KNOW that. Cross-braced helmets are found in Israel and Germany, and the manica turns up in Spain and Britain. Big threat of the falx in those areas? Nope. It could be that we are simply seeing a trend in armor towards the heavy side, which happened now and then through history (alternating with trends in lightening armor). Now, even I still believe that these new additions *may* well have been inspired by the falx, just because a little more metal makes it more likely that you can survive a hit from one of those things (at which point the wielder is doomed because he lacks armor and shield!). But I always throw in the caveat that we do NOT *know* that for certain!

Quote:...at one tip of a Falx, discovered at Tilisca (near Sarmisegetuza) was saw that have blood chanel on the blade

A "blood channel" is NOT for blood. It is a fuller, meant to lighten the blade without sacrificing strength. I have a small modern machete with grooves in the blade--it's a tool, not a weapon.

Quote:...and on another almost full blade discovered at Sarmisegetuza was observed a mark, a symbol similar to ones find on many "Sica" short swords/big knives, which is known that was exclusevly used for battle

Out of curiosity, how do we *know* this? I DO think (at this point!) that some falxes were purpose-made weapons, so I'm not arguing, I just want to know what evidence there is about this mark.

In the end, even if the falx DID cause the Romans to supplement their usual armor, such flexibility is hardly unknown for them. They had altered their equipment and tactics a number of times in the past, against various enemies. It doesn't seem to have been anything earth-shaking to them. At the very least, we can say that the falx (or whatever we want to call it!) made enough of an impression on the Romans that they included it significantly in their artwork showing that region. That's pretty significant. But it's always shown being used by the *losers*--that's significant, too!

Valete,

Matthew
Matthew Amt (Quintus)
Legio XX, USA
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#5
Ave diegis,

Two thoughts about your comments. First, the idea that Roman soldiers adapted their armour to deal with the two-handed falx is a modern hypothesis based on signs that the Romans improved their armour around the time of the Dacian Wars, and the idea that Dacian warriors used the two-handed falx which was more powerful than most ancient weapons. But they could have changed their armour for other reasons ... I don't know enough about the period to have an opinion.

And second, so-called blood channels aka. fullers just lighten a blade without weakening it (like a I-beam) and decorate it. They have nothing to do with making it easier to pull a blade out of a human body or anything like that.
Nullis in verba

I left this forum around the beginning of 2013, but I hope that these old posts have some value
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#6
salute Sean
the fact that the flax is curved makes it a special veapon and not that it could be a two-handed sword.
Dacians had sheilds too, so is more likely that they handled the sword with one hand, not two.
"FLAX" lol :lol:
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#7
The Romans also adapted adapted agricultural tools for use in military operations. The Hook for example discussed here: http://www.ludusmilitis.org/index.php?topic=65.0
John Kaler MSG, USA Retired
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#8
I essentially ageree with everythnig that Matt said.

Another point worth considering. A lot of fighting in the Dacian campaign was carried out by auxilliaries. Any equipment the legions had would largely be irrelvant
Author: Bronze Age Military Equipment, Pen & Sword Books
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#9
Quote: Dacians had sheilds too, so is more likely that they handled the sword with one hand, not two.

Oh, yes, they definitely had shields, which would be carried by most any warrior with a one-handed weapon. We can be pretty sure that spears were still the most common weapon even in tribes that used the falx as a weapon. Only those men using the 2-handed version would lack a shield, generally.

Vale,

Matthew
Matthew Amt (Quintus)
Legio XX, USA
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.larp.com/legioxx/">http://www.larp.com/legioxx/
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#10
Ave Diegis!
I am pleased that my analysis of the basic evidence "amuses" you - but then I was not expecting to convince you!
There is, as I said, much more in the way of 'pieces' to this puzzle yet to come...and I am hoping that you will, as the thread unfolds, contribute a few of those yourself..... Smile D

For the moment, let me answer the points you raise as briefly as I can before looking at the points raised by others....

The general area north of the Danube more or less opposite Adamklissi is shown on most ancient maps I have seen as occupied by the Peucini around this time, a tribe of the Bastarnae people - though I have not checked, I expect the information comes from Strabo or another Roman Geographer.

1. I did post a picture of the three ethnic groups portrayed on the crenellations - on a previous thread back in March 2008, but here it is again...If you examine the metopes, of the 49 extant, over half show the combat of the 'wagon massacre',( apparently the only action depicted) and only the Bastarnae ethnic group are shown in battle, many wielding the two-handed chopper/bill-hook. The only Dacians shown are chained prisoners in metopes XLVI and XLVII.

2. There is no evidence to suggest the 'Dacian Falx' was two-handed - on the contrary, on the Birdoswald inscription of the Dacian cohort, a clear single-handed weapon is depicted. Similarly the inscription of Legio IV FF shows only the single handed variety, as do many coins of 'Dacia Capta'.

3.We agree that the 'two-handed chopper' is an agricultural tool, it seems. Many say that a 'weapon' form was 'developed' from this, but the reality is that the 'battle choppers' shown at Adamklissi and the trophy base of Trajan's column are identical to the tool - no differences at all - so 'developed' in what way ? The 'brush-cutter/bill hook' is a separate tool unrelated to sickles, so cannot be 'inspired by' or related to the sickle....

4. It is difficult to tell from coin depictions the size of weapons due to distortions inevitable in the medium, and it is apparent that some coin motifs of 'Dacia Capta' were taken straight from the Column base depictions - where the equipment of all three groups who fought Trajan are shown jumbled together.

To deal with your conclusions:-
1. There are NO Dacians shown on the Adamklissi monument ( I have photos of all metopes) wielding 'two-handed curved blades', only those Bastarnae in 'Germanic' dress with 'Germanic' hair topknots....my turn to challenge you to produce a picture of a figure in Dacian dress wielding same.
2. There is no evidence that he Romans meant a 'two-handed' weapon when they spoke of the 'Dacian Falx' - it translates literally as 'Dacian curved blade'.
3. There is no evidence of any 'battle swords' specially made for warfare - as someone here has pointed out, the archaeologists simply can't tell whether the curved blades found at Sarmizegetusa are weapons or tools - not surprising since the 'weapons' were identical with the tools !!
4. There is no evidence that the Romans changed armour types in mid-campaign, certainly older helmets were modified by having cross-braces added, but we don't know when this occurred.The supposition that the 'manica' was utilised especially to counter the Falx came when the only depiction came from Adamklissi, and the Newstead example had been identified by Russell-Robinson as a "cavalry thigh guard". The suggestion that it was taken up as a counter to the two-handed falx came originally, I think, from Phil Barker in the early 1970's in his book "Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome".
We now know the 'manica' was quite widespread in use - see Sean's post.
5. see comments on coins above.
"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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#11
Matt wrote:
Quote:For starters, I'm a little leery about identifying different tribes by their clothing, at least so categorically. It's just a gut feeling, I'm not about to say "You can't do that!", because I agree that Roman artwork used conventions like that.

Not so much 'tribes', as ethnic groups - and as you can see from the picture I posted, the three are quite distinctive - I didn't caption them, but I bet you can easily identify which is which :wink:

Quote:I'm also not entirely comfortable with a strict definition of how "falx" may be used in Roman literature. They used a lot of other terms loosely or interchangeably, so a narrow definition makes me a little uneasy.

Huh? Not sure what you mean by this - my point was that "falx' was a broad definition, not a narrow one - it literally means 'curved blade', any kind of curved blade.

Quote:Finally, it seems a little contradictory that on the one hand you say that ONLY the Bastarnae are using these things, but on the other hand that blades and implements like this are found all over Europe! Just sayin'...

Not really, I'm saying the 'brush cutter/bill hook' was a common tool in Europe from the iron age down to the twentieth century ( and similar tools are worldwide).
I am also saying in a Dacian Wars context, it is only depicted in the hands of these Celto-germanic Bastarnae people, and never by Dacians. Furthermore, what little evidence we have of Dacians fighting Romans ( on the column)and in Roman service seems to indicate the single-handed 'falx' was identified as the 'Dacian national weapon'.

Quote:Be careful! It is true that we tend to think that modifications such as helmet bracing and the use of manica and greaves was because of the falx, but we don't KNOW that. Cross-braced helmets are found in Israel and Germany, and the manica turns up in Spain and Britain. Big threat of the falx in those areas? Nope. It could be that we are simply seeing a trend in armor towards the heavy side, which happened now and then through history (alternating with trends in lightening armor). Now, even I still believe that these new additions *may* well have been inspired by the falx, just because a little more metal makes it more likely that you can survive a hit from one of those things (at which point the wielder is doomed because he lacks armor and shield!). But I always throw in the caveat that we do NOT *know* that for certain!

I entirely agree! Rather than Phil Barker's idea, it is equally possible, maybe more so, that the 'improvised' use of a tool was a counter to troops in heavy armour - and there is an excellent precedent for this. During the revolt of Sacrovir in Gaul in AD21, the rebels included a small group of trainee gladiators of the fully-armoured 'Crupellari' type. The Roman legionaries resorted to using tools of the 'two-handed chopper' variety - their 'dolabra' (! Confusedhock: ) to deal with these! [Tacitus Annals III.43 ff].....perhaps the Bastarnae trapped with their families at the 'wagon massacre' also desperately improvised against heavily armoured Roman troops. Let us not forget too that after, this 'weapon' is never heard of again.....that surely implies it was an 'improvisation' used as a one-off rather than a newly developed formidable weapon.
"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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#12
Salve Matthew

Quote:
Be careful! It is true that we tend to think that modifications such as helmet bracing and the use of manica and greaves was because of the falx, but we don't KNOW that. Cross-braced helmets are found in Israel and Germany, and the manica turns up in Spain and Britain. Big threat of the falx in those areas? Nope. It could be that we are simply seeing a trend in armor towards the heavy side, which happened now and then through history (alternating with trends in lightening armor). Now, even I still believe that these new additions *may* well have been inspired by the falx, just because a little more metal makes it more likely that you can survive a hit from one of those things (at which point the wielder is doomed because he lacks armor and shield!). But I always throw in the caveat that we do NOT *know* that for certain!

From what i know, first reinforced helmets appear during Daco-Roman wars during 101-106. Fact that other such helmets was found in Germania or Israel i think those was dated later, after this wars. And is normal, soldiers was redeployed, that equipment was still used for a while. As well, arms and leg protections was probably used in other parts too, agree, but from what i read it was this wars when was used in large quantities, equiping a bigger number of troops.

Quote: Out of curiosity, how do we *know* this? I DO think (at this point!) that some falxes were purpose-made weapons, so I'm not arguing, I just want to know what evidence there is about this mark.

I will post again this link http://www.scribd.com/doc/33876270/Bora ... bus-I-2009

And some quote from there : " Another aspect to be mentioned is the one referring to the engraving of a symbol on a sword’s blade found at Sarmizegetusa Regia shaped as a circle with a point in the middle or the Greek letter?, representing, for sure, a symbol with a protective role for the weapon and its manipulator. This assumption is strengthen by the fact that the sica daggers also have this solar symbol often engraved on their blades."

This is the Falx in question
http://htmlimg1.scribdassets.com/2hese9 ... 22/000.jpg

Quote: In the end, even if the falx DID cause the Romans to supplement their usual armor, such flexibility is hardly unknown for them. They had altered their equipment and tactics a number of times in the past, against various enemies. It doesn't seem to have been anything earth-shaking to them. At the very least, we can say that the falx (or whatever we want to call it!) made enough of an impression on the Romans that they included it significantly in their artwork showing that region. That's pretty significant. But it's always shown being used by the *losers*--that's significant, too!

Well, i agree that Dacians lost the war, but the impression made by them was quite big. Domitian before even paid them tribute, and Traian used the biggest army used by Romans vs a foreign enemy, and was one of the few instances when Romans had numerical superiority on the battle field (draining troops from all over the empire). Romans build the biggest bridge in the world for that invasion (biggest for around a millenium i think), a spectacular realisation for that times, and even make some engineering works on Danube course (which is one of the biggest rivers in the world as discharge of water volume and biggest in Europe-except Volga), so making a huge war effort. And even if the Dacian capital, Sarmisegetuza, was at a distance of 100-150 km from Roman border (province Moesia), Romans needed almost a year, each war, to reach there, and celebration of victory lasted 123 days at Rome. Trajan Column and Forum was build there, to always be remembered, first ever and biggest such column, and lots of statues of Dacians (some of them saw now on Constantine Arch and even Vatican Museum). I think it was a strong impresion after all
Razvan A.
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#13
Quote:Ave diegis,

Two thoughts about your comments. First, the idea that Roman soldiers adapted their armour to deal with the two-handed falx is a modern hypothesis based on signs that the Romans improved their armour around the time of the Dacian Wars, and the idea that Dacian warriors used the two-handed falx which was more powerful than most ancient weapons. But they could have changed their armour for other reasons ... I don't know enough about the period to have an opinion.

And second, so-called blood channels aka. fullers just lighten a blade without weakening it (like a I-beam) and decorate it. They have nothing to do with making it easier to pull a blade out of a human body or anything like that.

Salve Sean

Yes, thats a modern hypothesis, but i think is the most logical one.

Second- i know the hypotese that blood channels are in fact useless at short blades, knives, daggers etc., since is not any evidence that help somehow to pull out quicker the blade, or have other effect in wounding, but to long blades is possible to have some efficiency
Razvan A.
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#14
Salve Paullus Smile
Quote:Ave Diegis!
I am pleased that my analysis of the basic evidence "amuses" you - but then I was not expecting to convince you!
There is, as I said, much more in the way of 'pieces' to this puzzle yet to come...and I am hoping that you will, as the thread unfolds, contribute a few of those yourself..... Smile D

For the moment, let me answer the points you raise as briefly as I can before looking at the points raised by others....

The general area north of the Danube more or less opposite Adamklissi is shown on most ancient maps I have seen as occupied by the Peucini around this time, a tribe of the Bastarnae people - though I have not checked, I expect the information comes from Strabo or another Roman Geographer.

Hmm, that area wasnt ocupied by Peucini. It was always a Getae(Dacian) area, incorporated previously in Roman Empire, first under the name Schytia Minor, then was included in Moesia. Peucini was located north of Danube Delta, and was part of Dacian kingdom/empire of Burebista. North of them was Bastarnae, and north east the Dacian tribe of Tyragetae. See this map
http://www.swaen.com/nf-antique-map-ima ... hp?id=3937

and here the location of Adamclisi
[Image: map%20first%20dacian%20war.jpg]

But there are many mentions about Dacian kings who ruled the area before the roman conquest. And was part of Roman empire back then, so wasnt possible to be occupied/inhabited by Peucini at that moment

Quote:1. I did post a picture of the three ethnic groups portrayed on the crenellations - on a previous thread back in March 2008, but here it is again...If you examine the metopes, of the 49 extant, over half show the combat of the 'wagon massacre',( apparently the only action depicted) and only the Bastarnae ethnic group are shown in battle, many wielding the two-handed chopper/bill-hook. The only Dacians shown are chained prisoners in metopes XLVI and XLVII.

I saw your picture now, very nice, but how you can see who's who there on battle scene, if you follow that picture? Peoples on battle scene are mostly bare chest with couple exception, so the model of clothes are pretty useless. I think the only thing who make diference betwen them is the "germanic knot", who make a clear distinction in the case of Bastarnae, and the ones with a cap (the phrygian cap) or bare head are the Dacians. Look at this images, and tell me how you distinguish the peoples (based on the image you posted)?
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... tope32.jpg
http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/c ... tope36.jpg
On the second one, the guy standing wear a longer shirt, as Dacians, and a prygian cap. In the first the "falx" user have some tight pants (as you said that is a element of distinguish betwen them) compared with loosy and very large ones of Bastarnae (acording to you, i still didnt see a veryfied author making such distinctions, or saying that just Bastarnae fight there).

Quote: 2. There is no evidence to suggest the 'Dacian Falx' was two-handed - on the contrary, on the Birdoswald inscription of the Dacian cohort, a clear single-handed weapon is depicted. Similarly the inscription of Legio IV FF shows only the single handed variety, as do many coins of 'Dacia Capta'.

There is the most clear and correct evidences, the archeological ones. As for coins, look at this ones
http://htmlimg1.scribdassets.com/2hese9 ... 21/000.jpg
On the first is clearly saw the Falx, with a handle as long as the blade aproximatevly and clearly a two handed one (you can see even the blood channel in the middle, similar with the Falx tip from image 4). In the second is a bit harder to distinguish, it can be saw just the half upper part of the blade i think.

Quote: 3.We agree that the 'two-handed chopper' is an agricultural tool, it seems. Many say that a 'weapon' form was 'developed' from this, but the reality is that the 'battle choppers' shown at Adamklissi and the trophy base of Trajan's column are identical to the tool - no differences at all - so 'developed' in what way ? The 'brush-cutter/bill hook' is a separate tool unrelated to sickles, so cannot be 'inspired by' or related to the sickle....

Well, i didnt say i agree, i said is possible, as its equal possible to be just a bigger variant of Sica, since some exemplaires look almost identical, just the scale is diferent. And as some similar symbols was find marked on both such swords, i incline to believe the last one.

Quote: 4. It is difficult to tell from coin depictions the size of weapons due to distortions inevitable in the medium, and it is apparent that some coin motifs of 'Dacia Capta' were taken straight from the Column base depictions - where the equipment of all three groups who fought Trajan are shown jumbled together.

As you can see, the coin clearly have inscripted Dacia, and the handle of the curved sword is clearly for two hands

Quote: To deal with your conclusions:-
1. There are NO Dacians shown on the Adamklissi monument ( I have photos of all metopes) wielding 'two-handed curved blades', only those Bastarnae in 'Germanic' dress with 'Germanic' hair topknots....my turn to challenge you to produce a picture of a figure in Dacian dress wielding same.
2. There is no evidence that he Romans meant a 'two-handed' weapon when they spoke of the 'Dacian Falx' - it translates literally as 'Dacian curved blade'.
3. There is no evidence of any 'battle swords' specially made for warfare - as someone here has pointed out, the archaeologists simply can't tell whether the curved blades found at Sarmizegetusa are weapons or tools - not surprising since the 'weapons' were identical with the tools !!
4. There is no evidence that the Romans changed armour types in mid-campaign, certainly older helmets were modified by having cross-braces added, but we don't know when this occurred.The supposition that the 'manica' was utilised especially to counter the Falx came when the only depiction came from Adamklissi, and the Newstead example had been identified by Russell-Robinson as a "cavalry thigh guard". The suggestion that it was taken up as a counter to the two-handed falx came originally, I think, from Phil Barker in the early 1970's in his book "Armies and Enemies of Imperial Rome".
We now know the 'manica' was quite widespread in use - see Sean's post.
5. see comments on coins above.

So
1- this is your interpretation i already refuted, is not correct
2- evidence is in the coins, and in images from both Traian Column and Tropaeum Traiani. And in the fact that they reinforced their helmets, which is a direct answer to using of such two handed curved sword
3- the evidence is in that symbol from one of Falxes blade, similar with ones from Sicas (which is known as battle swords/daggers), blade who was find at Sarmisegetuza. That sign have a mystico-ritualic significance, and for sure wasnt put on a tool used to cut twigs in the back garden
4- i said is possible that manica and legs protection to be spread even before the Dacian wars (but clearly was used in larger numbers here, other way they didnt show them on images), but the helmet is pretty logical that was reinforced during this wars, as a consequence of Falx. I dont deny that after this such helmets to be spread in other corners of the empire, as soldiers was relocated
5- see the coins i posted
Razvan A.
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#15
Quote:salute Sean
the fact that the flax is curved makes it a special veapon and not that it could be a two-handed sword.
Dacians had sheilds too, so is more likely that they handled the sword with one hand, not two.
"FLAX" lol :lol:

Salut Nina, and welcome to the site, glad to see a girl interested in such "bloody" stuff as swords Big Grin

And well, i think Matthew gived a good answer, most of the Dacian soldiers wear a shield and a one handed sword (either a Sica, some maybe even a Gladius like type), many had helmets and (scale) armours too (if you look at the trophies from the base of the Column). Falx was probably a special weapon used by few, with the role to make a breake in the tight lines of enemy troops protected by those large "scutum". This is probably the reason why Romans didnt adopted the Falx, as they doesnt have such type of enemies and even the reason why Falx was created, at the time of clashes betwen Dacians and Romans. Is just an hypothese, suported by the fact that aparently Dacians droped the long right celtic type swords by the I century BC (when first clashes with romans occured), and the Falx appeared soon later (I century AD - at least in imagery).
Razvan A.
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