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Author Topic: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia  (Read 7453 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)

Offline Robert L3

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #57 on: July 23, 2022, 10:36:20 am »
Just added three very interesting spearheads to the gallery. None is a run-of-the-mill, easier-to-acquire, undecorated tanged blade.

Each is likely from Western Asia. (Two of the three are almost certainly from the Gilan region of northwestern Iran, along the southwestern coastal area of the Caspian Sea.) Each likely dates to the Early Iron Age I and II in Iran (1200 - 800 BC).

One (#26) is possibly unique in its particular combination of form and incised decoration. For this one the attribution to Western Asia - and possibly Luristan - is speculative and is based on a slight resemblance to similarly profiled, rare Luristani spearheads I've seen, such as the one I reference in the listing.

Another (#27) is very large, measuring to almost 25”. It is not only the longest spearhead I now own, but also simply the longest weapon in my collection - period.

The third (#28) is a very rare type that I have wanted for quite a while. I have known of the type only from reference books - and a single other specimen I spotted on the market.

AE Spearhead #26:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=176505
Enlargement: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/albums/userpics/16274/AE_Spearhead_26.jpg
This one (AE Spearhead #26) is a bit mysterious. Usually, I can ID my weapons with a fair degree of confidence using a number of scholarly references that I have access to. However, I’ve actually never seen any other spearhead quite like this one. The blade, which is very narrow and long, has a flattened diamond cross-section. Incised geometric decoration is occasionally encountered on ancient Iranian bronze weapons of the Early Iron Age (although more often on daggers and arrowheads), like on this hilt from my collection: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/albums/userpics/16274/AE_Hilt_1.jpg

AE Spearhead #27:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=176506
Enlargement: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/albums/userpics/16274/AE_Spearhead_27B.jpg
AE Spearhead #27 is a type associated with Marlik, an excavated mound in Gilan in northwest Iran. The inhabitants of Marlik “seem to have flourished from near the end of the second millennium B.C. to the beginning of the first…contemporaneously with the last Middle Assyrian kings.” (Art of the Marlik Culture by Charles K. Wilkinson, Curator Emeritus of Near Eastern Art at the Met)

While I do already own one of these with long socket and leaf-shaped blade (AE Spearhead #20 in my gallery) – this new one, at almost 25", is double the length and therefore truly special. To give a sense of how large this new monster is, I am including a pic below of the two socketed Marlik spearheads as they currently reside, side-by-side in one of my display cases. I also include reference pics of the type from Christian Konrad Piller’s Untersuchungen zur relative Chronologie der Nekropole von Marlik (Investigations on the Relative Chronology of the Necropolis of Marlik) and Ezat O. Neghaban’s Weapons from Marlik.

AE Spearhead #28:
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=176507
Enlargement: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/albums/userpics/16274/AE_Spearhead_28_b.jpg
AE Spearhead #28 is a rare type also associated with Marlik. Its most striking (pardon the pun) feature is two bronze bands encircling the socket, to aid in securing the spearhead to the shaft. Reference illustrations of the type, from Piller and Neghaban, are below.




Offline Virgil H

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #58 on: July 23, 2022, 09:11:57 pm »
Your collection is simply amazing. These latest pieces are incredible. Thanks for having your gallery.

Virgil

Offline Robert L3

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #59 on: July 23, 2022, 10:00:54 pm »
Thanks for the nice comment, Virgil. Much appreciated.

Offline Robert L3

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #60 on: September 24, 2022, 07:08:34 pm »
I just received my second Ex-John Piscopo Collection piece. This new acquisition is a small sword, missing its pommel.

AE Sword #03
https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/displayimage.php?pid=177145
Enlargement: https://www.forumancientcoins.com/gallery/albums/userpics/16274/AE_Sword_03.jpg

I've briefly discussed John Piscopo earlier in this thread. He was a passionate and highly respected collector of ancient weaponry and, in the words of a member of the Ancient Artifacts forum, he was “the father of the Internet antiquities community.” Piscopo was 62 years old when he passed away in 2005. The collection of ancient weapons (Iranian, Southeast Asian, and European) that he amassed was one of the most important in the world. As a result, “Ex-Piscopo Collection” is significant provenance. I would say that, other than owning a deaccessioned specimen from a well-known museum collection, “Ex-Piscopo” is the most meaningful provenance one can hope for where ancient weapons are concerned.

Of course, the most distinctive feature of my latest pickup is its penannular (crescent-shaped) guard. Such guards first appeared in western Iran toward the end of the Late Bronze Age. They come in lots of different varieties. They are categorized not just by their shapes, but by their find spots and age (which is sometimes determined by context at the dig sites). According to Babak Rafiei-Alavi in The Biography of a Dagger Type: The Diachronic Transformation of the Daggers with the Crescent-Shaped Guard: “In the Late Bronze Age (1600-1300 BC), the guard has a functional role, it is part of the hilt and holds the blade. In the Iron Age I (1300-1000 BC) the functional guard was in several cases changed to a non-functional and ornamental unit. (During) the Iron Age II (1000-800 BC), this non-functional attribute was mostly transformed back to its functional trait.”

Regarding such weapons, Christian Konrad Piller states (in Notes on the So-Called ‘Daggers with a Crescent Guard’): "...daggers with such a guard do not form a homogenous type. In fact, there are several subtypes and variants which differ in their production technique and their general outline. Furthermore, there are a lot of variations concerning the shape and the cross-section of the blade and the hilt.”

Although the sword I won has some formal similarities to some Iron Age II Iranian swords of comparable size and with similar (though usually skinnier) elliptical penannular guards, it is possibly unique in its details and overall form – particularly in the boxiness of its crescent, and the way the blade’s shoulders project slightly outward from the guard. That guard is definitely functional, holding the blade in place. (It isn't just a decorative feature.) So, this sword, while possibly unique, is more akin to penannular edged weaponry of the Iron Age II than to earlier (Late Bronze Age and Iron Age I) examples. I think I can safely (though still broadly) date my sword to early first millennium BC. It was during this period that the crescent guards were occasionally used in combination with “double disk” (a.k.a. “cotton-reel”) pommels. My example presumably had a pommel in antiquity, and it may have been the double disk type.

Offline Virgil H

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #61 on: September 24, 2022, 07:32:30 pm »
That is incredible, such a beautiful sword. I appreciate your stories of both the provanace and the sword itself. The more I continue in collecting, the more I appreciate provenance as it adds another layer or two to the "where has this object been and who held it" fascination.

Virgil

Offline Robert L3

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Re: New Gallery: Bronze Weaponry of Western Asia
« Reply #62 on: September 24, 2022, 07:36:26 pm »
Thanks, Virgil!

 

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