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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Antiquities  |  Fibulae and Clothing Items (Moderators: otlichnik, Jay GT4)  |  Topic: Would like to know/get more info about 'gladius' amulet 0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic. « previous next »
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Author Topic: Would like to know/get more info about 'gladius' amulet  (Read 451 times)
Kilian O
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« on: December 31, 2019, 04:17:14 am »

Hello guys!

I purchased the lot from [REMOVED BY ADMIN]. I don't seem to find much information about such amulets/pendants and find it odd it only has a hole on one side  Huh

Was it equivalent to a modern day purple heart and was it not really worn?  Maybe the half hole standed for being hit in battle I'm not really sure,anybody that can enlighten me a little more?

Thanks and happy holidays to you all  angel
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otlichnik
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« Reply #1 on: December 31, 2019, 12:02:25 pm »

I have seen dealers refer to these as Gladius amulets before.

I don't believe that that is an accurate description.

Just because it bears a vague resemblance to a gladius does not mean it is one.  It is roughly sword shaped and has a knob at the top.    If it is meant to be a gladius it lacks a handle.  If you are going to the trouble of putting the know for a pommel why leave out a handle?

The Romans did make fibula in the shape of genuine items but this is clearly not a fibula or fibula part.

Could well be a case of pareidolia - seeing a pattern or object that was not really intended.  For example the well-known propeller belt plaques or stiffeners obviously do not represent propellers. 

The second problem is the term amulet.  What is an amuletRomans had various small objects - fibula, belt plaques, furniture decorations, ear-rings, beads, hangers for belts/aprons/horse harness.  There were some amulet-like objects that hung from necklaces - such as the bulla symbolizing childhood. 

They didn't have medals.  The Roman's didn't have any wearable military awards except the large round phalera and perhaps gilded fibula.

Not sure how your object fastened on to anything.  The round spot on the back does not appear to be a hole going through.  Is it the base of a lost post or rivet head?  If so it was probably fastened to leather.

Until we see such an item in proper archaeological context we can't be sure what it is.

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(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)
Kilian O
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« Reply #2 on: January 01, 2020, 02:01:15 am »

Yeah it's kinda odd that there are quite a few arround and we not having an idea for what it was used. My safe bet is that it was decoration/ornament for like you said on leather or any other material prob for a soldier of some kind cause I don't see civilians wearing a sword.  As for the complaint about why there's no handle: I think it depends on the maker, the knob and shape of blade make it look like a gladius, it's symmetric and has the hole at the same position as many other of these bronze swords and also the cuts on the hilt that have been found. So I think the claim of pareidolia is a bit far stretched however it is possible but then all of those that have been found are. This is the one a fellow collecter has: https://imgur.com/a/pz0quDK It's good that you are critical about it and you should be. I guess we won't be really sure what it's purpose was.
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otlichnik
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« Reply #3 on: January 01, 2020, 05:16:48 pm »

You bought from a reputable dealer - though that doesn't mean that all the descriptions are correct. 

But my skepticism comes from seeing other dealers where everything is either "legionary" or "gladiator" or, if medieval "viking".  A lot of people out there are being overcharged or plain ripped off.

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(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)
Jay GT4
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« Reply #4 on: January 01, 2020, 08:13:15 pm »

Yes, like "voting sticks"  Smiley
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Kilian O
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« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2020, 03:14:47 pm »

Description wasn't either one of those it was more like bronze sword but I totally get what you mean. Apparently the other side of the hole was filled with concrete-like sand and I managed to remove that so it has a hole going straight through it now. But I guess my question has been answered kinda...I believe it to be old and from that period however it can be anything, sure you can make some guesses but untill ppl with knowledge form an opinion it's all up in the air. I know these get faked and stuff like voting sticks,statues etc especially on Ebay but since this is from a respectable dealer I am willing te believe it's from roman period age, like the aging on it and the sand being almost concrete.

I appreciate your feedback and I don't like it either when something gets labeled as being 'this' or 'that'. Got it from auction cause I thought it'd look cool with my collection of coins, I like to believe it's roman age and I know it's likely it wasn't legionary or gladiator  that being like a 1% chance, but if genuine it must have had some use. Could aswell be a mass produced item sold by stalls all across the empire who knows.

 Smiley
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Joe Sermarini
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« Reply #6 on: January 03, 2020, 07:00:03 am »

Just curious, what is the length of these things?
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Kilian O
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« Reply #7 on: January 03, 2020, 05:48:03 pm »

This one is arround 43mm long
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Joe Sermarini
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« Reply #8 on: January 04, 2020, 07:21:26 am »

Is there any indication of hammering on the ball? I ask because I wonder if they might have been some sort of knob and the blade is actually the nail which was driven into wood. I realize this is unlikely, but just a thought.
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Joseph Sermarini
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« Reply #9 on: January 04, 2020, 01:32:11 pm »

I think Joe is on to something.  Here is a smaller one from Caesarea Maritima.  The round part is slightly flattened, and there is a small dent, not so visible.  I am thinking it could have been driven into a wooden box as a foot, with the cut feature above the "blade" acting as a stop.  There is incised decoration on one side only.  There is no hole in the "blade", which could have served as an anchor on the others.  This piece is 24mm. and 5.87gm.  I have been wondering for years what this could be.
(click for larger pic)
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otlichnik
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« Reply #10 on: January 04, 2020, 06:27:58 pm »

V-drome,

Your item is definitely the foot of a small casket or box.  

The ball sat on the ground.  The grooves in the ball are toes from a stylized lion's paw.  Larger caskets had bronze feet in actual paw form.

The box rested on the small flat bit and the pointy bit ran up the side of the box.

I think that this is likely what the other ones like Kilian's are.  They have less of "shelf" so instead have a hole where the foot was riveted to the side of the casket or box.

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(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)
otlichnik
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« Reply #11 on: January 04, 2020, 07:10:14 pm »

Though the bottom of the feet are more complex, the long "blade" with hole can be seen on feet 5243 and 5363 A+B on this page:

http://romanlocks.com/Chestlocks.htm#Casket_and_Chest_Legs,_Images

of the website Donald Jackson's Roman Gallery of Locks, Keys and Seals

The site notes that such small feet could be found on pyxis - cosmetic jars/cases, acerra - incense caskets, capsa - scroll-cases or stands, etc.

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(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)
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« Reply #12 on: January 04, 2020, 07:52:09 pm »

Wow!  Very interesting.  Thanks again, Shawn, and Kilian O for starting this post.
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Jay GT4
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Leave the gun, take the Canoli!


« Reply #13 on: January 04, 2020, 08:15:19 pm »

Makes a lot more sense.
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Kilian O
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« Reply #14 on: January 05, 2020, 09:30:20 am »

I decided to make some extra photo's even tho they aren't the best. They do show some similarities but i'm not 100% sure.
Can see how it can be perceived as a foot for some lil chest but also as a sword meant for a chain or something. Surely if it was meant to hold something up there must be examples out there... Huh
Let's say the hole was to put a rivet or nail through on the side of a box/casket, then the rest of it would be facing outwards  cause unlike v-drome the blade is exactly in the middle and symmetric.
The knob is quite round on the top, but I'll be quite dissapointed if all these "amulets" are all just pieces of a chest  Roll Eyes
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Jarle D
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« Reply #15 on: January 05, 2020, 01:12:16 pm »

Hello! I'm the owner of the other "amulet" linked above! Mine is also pretty symmetrical, with the "blade" coming from the middle, and the pattern on the guard going all the way around. If we can plausibly decide what this actually used for, that would actually be cool IMO. Then maybe we could also get all these dealers to stop spreading outdated information. It's uncanny how much it resembles a gladius or a spatha though!

Edit: here's the only thing resembling information regarding these items I've been able to find, from a Georgian newspaper of all things: https://agenda.ge/en/news/2016/30
This doesn't prove a single thing, and nothing is really referenced or quoted, but apparently there are "experts" and a museum involved.
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Joe Sermarini
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« Reply #16 on: January 06, 2020, 11:57:50 am »

Could be an amulet but "believed to have been worn as an amulet by an unknown gladiator in Rome" is nonsense.
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FORVM`s Classical Numismatics Discussion Board  |  Antiquities  |  Fibulae and Clothing Items (Moderators: otlichnik, Jay GT4)  |  Topic: Would like to know/get more info about 'gladius' amulet « previous next »
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