Antiquities > Other Metal Antiquities

New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia

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Congratulations.  These are a really interesting type of weapon.  There were several on the market back around 20 years ago.  A European auction house had a bunch.  Not sure if it was due to new finds or an old collection being broken up.

In any event I always liked the type and thought about getting one.  Glad you did.


Robert L3:
Thanks, gents. Shawn, if only I could go back in time to that sale you reference. Alas, that was about 17 years before I caught the weapons bug...

Robert L3:
An update to the weapons gallery.

Recently I uploaded an unusual dagger blade, with curved sharp spikes on either side of the tang. As I mention in the gallery listing, this type of blade has occasionally been interpreted as a spearhead, but I. M. Medvedskaya points out, in Iran: Iron Age I, that "researchers usually call them daggers". I have no idea how they would have been attached to a grip, but I've spotted the same darkened patina in the "lower" (based on my picture's orientation) part of the blade before, on other specimens. While this might suggest the point of contact with another material, it doesn't really clarify how the grip design worked. See AE Dagger #11 here:
And the enlargement:

And here’s a very special and rare dagger that I have managed to add to my collection. AE Dagger #12:

It is from western Iran, possibly from Elam or Luristan, and dates to the late 3rd to 2nd millennium BC. It features a broad, leaf-shaped blade made separately from the hilt. The hilt is cast hollow and features decoration in relief (well worn), and the guard is curved. Below are some pics of similarly shaped (but mostly much nicer) daggers from various references that I regularly use: Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani’s Arms and Armor from Iran (left), P. R. S. Moorey’s Catalogue of the Ancient Persian Bronzes in the Ashmolean Museum (center), and Houshang Mahboubian’s Art of Ancient Iran (right). The far right dagger from Mahboubian is probably closest to my modest example.

Robert L3:
My most recent pickup, AE Dagger #13:

It measures 16" and dates from the late second to early first millennium BC. It was produced in NW Iran - it may be Amlash. Description: mold-cast blade with wide, flat midrib; penannular guard; hilt cast upon blade via lost wax process; end of tang exposed. There was an old, possibly ancient, decorative bronze "cap" over the exposed portion of the tang. I removed it since it was not original to the blade.

I had initially assumed that the upper part of the grip may have been damaged, and thus cut away in modern times for cosmetic reasons - exposing the tip of the tang in the process. However, I just came across an online article by Babak Rafiei Alavi titled The Biography of a Dagger Type: The Diachronic Transformation of the Daggers with the Crescent-Shaped Guard:

The following illustration of Iron Age II daggers from Iran shows two examples (I added red arrows to highlight them) from a graveyard in NW Iran, Toul-e Talesh, with the exact same clean end to their bronze grips, exposing the tips of the embedded tangs. I have no idea whether or not a pommel was somehow attached to the end of the tang. It is hard for me to believe that there would have been no decorative element on the upper part of the hilt.

Interesting.  I had never heard of Toul-e Talesh.  Seems to be a small place that was fairly well protected and therefore not looted so controlled excavations were made.  Apparently some items are very similar to finds from Marlik.



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