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Author Topic: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia  (Read 6741 times)

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Offline SC

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #50 on: October 10, 2021, 10:48:46 am »
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.

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(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)

Offline Robert L3

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #51 on: October 10, 2021, 03:30:21 pm »
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...

Offline Robert L3

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #52 on: April 08, 2022, 05:44:46 pm »
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:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=174313
And the enlargement:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/albums/userpics/16274/AE_Dagger_11_b.jpg

And here’s a very special and rare dagger that I have managed to add to my collection. AE Dagger #12:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=175244
Enlargement:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/albums/userpics/16274/AE_Dagger_12B.jpg

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.


Offline Robert L3

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #53 on: April 29, 2022, 03:00:37 pm »
My most recent pickup, AE Dagger #13:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=175395
Enlargement:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/albums/userpics/16274/AE_Dagger_13_b.jpg

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: https://books.openedition.org/momeditions/8181

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.


Offline SC

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #54 on: May 01, 2022, 11:49:07 am »
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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(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)

Offline Robert L3

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #55 on: May 12, 2022, 06:00:34 pm »
Here's an interesting new pickup, one that has some mystery about it:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=175683
Enlargement:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/albums/userpics/16274/Iron_Dagger_01.jpg

It's an iron dagger that I will be listing with question marks:
Iron Dagger #01
Parthian? Early Sassanian?
Possibly from northern or northwestern Iran
c. 1st – early 4th century AD?
22.86 cm (9 1/16”)

Since I began collecting ancient weaponry a few years back, I’ve really wanted to acquire an ancient Parthian dagger or spearhead. Since I have collected Parthian coins for thirty-plus years, a Parthian edged weapon would be a real score for me. However, they are exceedingly rare. The few examples I’ve seen on the market were – in my admittedly amateur, only-semi-informed opinion – fakes. [Including, I suspect, one currently listed at auction (May 2022) from a seller with a bad rep.]

Parthian daggers, swords, and spearheads were typically manufactured in iron. Accordingly, the examples from museum collections and references that I’ve seen are usually in fair condition at best. None that have survived are in pristine shape, it seems.

The first image below shows some documented examples, with the top three in that image from the Iran Bastan Museum, the bottom three (a sword and two daggers) excavated from graves near the Iranian village of Vestemin in northern Iran.

The second image shows more examples of Parthian swords and daggers, this time from Manouchehr Moshtagh Khorasani’s Arms and Armour from Iran. These are from Gilan (NW Iran), and are housed in the collection of the National Museum of Iran in Tehran. As Khorasani points out, Parthian daggers “have quillons (cross guards) similar to the quillons of the Parthian swords…”

As for my new acquisition (at the links above), the seller's listing had it as 2nd century AD Roman. While that attribution is, perhaps, possible, I think it is likely inaccurate. It is unlike any legitimate Roman daggers or “pugiones” that I have seen, all of which have more ornate grips, often in addition to differently shaped and proportioned blades. Of course, I freely admit I am no expert with any of this material.

The challenge here, of course, is the dagger’s very economical form – an example of form following function, with no embellishments or other features that might definitively tie it to a specific culture and period. It could be ancient, but then again it could be medieval.

On the other hand, it seems quite similar to the Parthian swords and daggers of the 1st through 2nd centuries AD from north and northwest Iran. The thickness and shape of the quillon is a close match, as is the blade shape and length, and the tang-like grip – which I suppose might have been embedded or wrapped in another material in antiquity.

Complicating the attribution, somewhat, is the fact that some early Sassanian (3rd – early 4th centuries AD) edged weaponry from Gilan (northwest Iran) seems nearly indistinguishable from those of the defeated Parthians, although they have sometimes survived in slightly better condition. The third image below shows early Sassanian swords from Khorasani. (Later Sassanian edged weaponry became much more ornamented.)

Given my dagger’s relatively decent condition, I suppose it could be Sassanian rather than Parthian, assuming it is indeed from ancient Iran rather than ancient or medieval Europe.

I’m hopeful I’m on the right track, but I invite other opinions that might bust my bubble.



Offline SC

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #56 on: May 13, 2022, 07:49:27 am »
Wow.  Nice piece.

I would have assumed from the style that it was early medieval, possible steppe nomadic.  But having those documented fines is great.

In fact they show the continuity between the Roman stuff and the early medieval stuff....

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(Shawn Caza, Ottawa)

 

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