Gold and Bejeweled Migration Era Sword c.375 - 450 A.D. Aug 7, 2013 10:12:59 GMT
Post by Jack Loomes on Aug 7, 2013 10:12:59 GMT
Eastern European sword type with a fine selection of accessories. Double-edged, narrow blade with a flat, lenticular cross section and a short point. In the middle of one side of the blade an about 20 mm big, glued fragment, on the restored surface traces of the ancient wooden scabbard. Long, narrow and tapered tang. Hollow, rhombical crossguard made of bronze with vestiges of gilding. Set on one side with reddish almandines in a gold cloisonné work pinned to the crossguard. Grip with ten cross ribs made of hammered gold, which are divided in the centre, the pommel is missing, the grip reconstructed.
Total length 81.5 cm, blade length 70 cm, upper width 4.2 cm, blade thickness 5.3 mm. Length of the crossguard 10.9 cm, height 1.6 cm. Weight 724 g.
Enclosed a golden buckle with a B-shaped bow, probably part of the baldric. The oval base with kidney-shaped soldered lace wire, as known of contemporaneous types of mounting. Semi-circular cut, mounted garnet cabochon with circular granulation. Angled tongue with a broadened base. Width 2.6 cm, total length 3.7 cm. Weight 23.5 g. In addition a golden decoration sheet with a chased geometrical pattern, probably a fragment of the scabbard ornamentation. 6 x 4.3 cm. Weight 3.0 g. Finally an oblong, fishtail shaped gold sheeting, also with lavish geometrical chase decoration, as commonly used in the age of the Huns especially for the tips of bone reinforced recurve bows. Lower Width 1.3 cm, upper width 2.4 cm, length 25.4 cm.
Swords of this Eastern European type are connected to the areas populated by the steppe nomadic tribes of the early Migration Period. The major centres of dispersal are the Northern Black Sea region and the Caucasus. Sporadic occurrences in Middle and Western Europe are linked to the advance of the Huns into these areas. Ethnically these swords can be connected to the Hunnic and Sarmatian tribes. Apart from the predominantly simple models there are occasionally also ceremonial swords with precious accessories, like in this case. Such lavishly decorated spathae are symbols of authority of the tribal nobility of the Hunnic federation and used to belong to members of the highest ruling class. According to archeological and historical sources, spathae with golden grips are burial objects exclusively reserved to tribal kings. With the collapse of the Hunnic empire this sword type slowly began to wane, and there are only a few sporadic specimens which can be dated to after the end of the 5th century A.D. Well documented, excavated finds dating from the same period come from Novorossysk, Abrau-Durso, horse grave 13 and grave 479, Kislovodsk-Lermontovskaya-skala, catacomb 2, grave 10 and from Dimitriyevka. Typologically similar pieces are known from a find in Kertch in 1904, Altlußheim and Engels-Pokrovsk, Kolkhoz Voshod. Until now, golden grips like the one belonging to this sword were only known from contemporaneous daggers from Eastern Europe or Middle Asia. The golden grips of the hitherto known swords usually have three - at most five - distinctly wider cross ribs.
Literature: A. Alföldi, Funde aus der Hunnenzeit und ihre ethnische Sonderung. Arch. Hungarica 9, 1932. J. Werner, Beiträge zur Archäologie des Attila-Reichs. W. Menghin, Das Schwert im frühen Mittelalter. Chronologisch-typologische Untersuchungen zu germanischen Langschwertern des 5. bis 7. Jahrhunderts n. Chr., 1983. B. Anke, Studien zur reiternomadischen Kultur des 4. bis 5. Jahrhunderts n. Chr., 1998.
The scientific treatment of this sword and the four other subsequent objects was carried out by Dr. Bodo Anke, Berlin. The examination of the stones and mountings of the first three lots by Dr. Noel Adams, London and New York.