X-Rare Roman Republican Iron Gladius with Scabbard
About the Piece
This extremely rare piece is a Roman gladius sword that dates to the mid/late Roman Republican period, circa 140-20 B.C. This stunning piece is approximately 26.25 inches long, from the tip to the end of the tang, and the blade is approximately 23 inches long, from the tip to the top of the hilt. The blade is also approximately 1.2 inches wide at the hilt, and gradually increases in width to the distinctive v-point tip, which is 1.45 inches wide at this point. The blade is made from hammered iron, and is in remarkable superb condition for an iron blade, and there are no noticeable breaks and/or major repairs to the blade. (See included x-ray.) The blade has some minor iron bubbles, which is normal for a blade of this type, and the overall blade was conditioned circa 198's with a heavy dark brown oil based glaze which has sealed the metal, and provided for an excellent state of preservation. The blade, with the additional width near the v-tip, gave this weapon added weight and made a slashing blow even more effective. The well defined v-tip, which is a prominent feature of the Roman gladius, allowed for stabbing during close combat, and allowed one to get by an opponent that perhaps had a large shield and/or was in a dense formation. The blade edges are also very sharp in sections, and there is a raised central line that runs from the tip to the hilt. This raised central line shows that the blade was hammered over and over again, in order to create a superior weapon that had dense metal and a thicker and stronger mid-section. The blade also has an added decorative plate which has silvered bronze and gold gilt, with decorative cross-patterned punched dotted designs. The edge of this plate has added gold gilt over bronze brackets, which protected the blade when it was taken in and out of it's scabbard. This piece also comes with a distinctive Roman type frame scabbard, that has edge brackets, two support cross pieces, and an enclosed scabbard tip plate. The tip plate is rounded, rather than pointed, which is a rare feature relative to Roman arms, and the plates are also gold gilt over bronze with some silvering added as well. The silvering over the bronze is also a Roman convention of art, and Roman Helmets from the Republic period to the late Imperial period often have silvering applied over bronze or traces it are often seen over the metal. This type of metal application is also known as "tinning", and is a combination of silver and other base metals. The tip plates also have a matching decorative design as the hilt plates seen on the blade, and this design is only seen on the front plate, and the back plate is flat with no designs and has gold gilt over the bronze with no silvering. The overall scabbard precisely fits the blade, and the scabbard had a thin inner and outer leather liner which protected and enclosed the blade within the scabbard. The scabbard also runs two thirds up the blade, and the scabbard may be missing the upper third section, or this section may have been made with a combination of wood and leather. The upper scabbard section may also have been fitted with ring attachments that fitted this piece to a belt with leather ties. There is also a three way "junction phalera" which may have fit into this leather tie attachment system as well. The three way "junction phalera" may or may not have gone with this gladius, but it is thought that all of the pieces offered here were found together in the United Kingdom circa early 198's. The three way "junction phalera" also date circa late 3rd-2nd century B.C., and has three glass paste circular inlay circles with dotted pattern pins than run from the center. This design is a Celtic type design, and its possible that this piece was made by a Celtic armorer in the service of the Romans in Gaul. The rounded tip plates on the scabbard also are seen in Gaul relative to armor produced by the native La Tene culture, circa 2nd-1st century B.C., as cataloged by F. Quesada Sanz, in "Gladius Hispaniensis: An Archaeological view from Iberia", Journal of Roman Military Equipment Studies, 8, 1997, pp. 251-270. (See attached chart from the above reference showing the evolution of the early Republican gladius sword types, p. 265, Fig. 16.) According to the chart noted above, the sword type offered here is very analogous in size and shape to the Roman gladius sword no. 12, which was found in Delos in 1986 still within it's fragmented frame scabbard. This sword is simply known as the "Delos Sword", and Michel Feugere in "The Arms of the Romans", p. 32, has dated this sword circa 69 B.C. This sword is also one of the few Roman Republic gladius swords that have been found and recorded, and this is the case of the extremely rare piece offered here. Ex: Private UK collection, circa 198's. Note: Additional documentation is available to the purchaser.