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May 25
fyeahswords:

The spatha was a type of straight and long sword, measuring between 0.75 and 1 m (30 and 39 in), in use throughout first millennium AD Europe, and in the territory of the Roman Empire until about 600 AD. Later swords from 600 AD to 1000 AD are recognizable derivatives, though they are not spathae.
The spatha was used in war and in gladiatorial fights. The spatha of literature appears in the Roman Empire in the first century AD as a weapon used by presumably Germanic auxiliaries and gradually became a standard heavy infantry weapon, relegating the gladius to use as a light infantry weapon. The spatha apparently replaced the gladius in the front ranks, giving the infantry more reach when thrusting. While the infantry version had a long point, versions carried by the cavalry had a rounded tip that prevented accidental stabbing of the cavalryman’s foot.
Archaeologically many instances of the spatha have been found in Britain and Germany. It was used extensively by Germanic warriors. It is unclear whether it came from the Pompeii gladius or the longer Celtic swords, or whether it served as a model for the various broadswords and Viking swords of Europe. The spatha remained popular throughout the Migration Period. It may have evolved into the knightly sword of the High Middle Ages from about 1100 AD, but the large number of sword types that appeared during the period make it difficult to establish links. The details of their manufacture remain mostly unknown.
The word comes from the Latin spatha, which derives from Greek σπάθη (spáthē), meaning “any broad blade, of wood or metal” but also “broad blade of a sword”.
The Greek word σπάθη was used in the middle Archaic period for various types of Iron Age swords. The word does not appear in Homeric Greek, but it is mentioned in the works of Alcaeus of Mytilene (sixth century BC) and Theophrastus (fourth century BC).
It is likely that spatha is the romanization of the Doric Greek *σπάθα (spáthā), considering the Doric acc. plural “σπάθας” (spáthās). The word survives in Modern Greek as σπάθη and σπαθί. The Latin word became the French épée, Catalan espasa, Portuguese and Spanish espada, Italian spada, Romanian spadă and Albanian shpata, all meaning “sword”. The English word spatula comes from Latinspat(h)ula, the diminutive of spatha. English spade, from Old English spadu or spædu, is the Germanic cognate, derived from a Common Germanic *spadō, ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European stem*sph2-dh-.
The spatha was introduced to the Roman army in the early imperial period by Celtic cavalry auxiliaries who continued to wear their Celtic long swords, with blade lengths of 60 to 85 cm, in Roman service. The earlier gladius sword was gradually replaced by the spatha from the late second to the third century AD. From the early 3rd century AD, legionaries and cavalrymen began to wear their swords on the left side, perhaps because the scutum had been abandoned and the spatha had replaced the gladius.
Employed by both Roman cavalrymen and their German enemies, later Lombard spathae were actually more advanced than the wrought iron gladii, being constructed using a form of pattern welding employing layers of iron and steel; in effect, a composite material. Eventually under the later Roman Empire the spatha was adopted by many if not all legionaries.
In the imperial period, the Romans adopted the original Greek term, spathe (σπάθη), as spatha, which still carried the general meaning of any object considered long and flat. Spatha appears first in Pliny and then Seneca with different meanings: a spatula, a metal-working implement, a palm-leaf and so on. There is no hint of any native Roman sword called a spatha.
Referring to an actual sword, the term first appears in the pages of Tacitus with reference to an incident of the early empire. The British king Caractacus, having rebelled, found himself trapped on a rocky hill, so that if he turned one way he encountered the gladii of the legionaries, and if the other, the spathae of the auxiliaries. Left with no other way to turn, he escaped to the Brigantes, leaving his brothers to surrender the men. He was turned over to the Romans by the queen of the Brigantes, who was pardoned by the Senate after a moving plea for mercy, and reigned successfully once more as a Roman client king. Tacitus does not relate who the auxiliaries were. The Romans moved auxiliaries around the frontiers and also relied on local levies. Most examples of spathae come from Germany and east Europe, however. There is an excellent chance that the owners of the spathae were Germanic. There is no indication in Tacitus either that they were cavalry; overall, the Romans used both cavalry and infantry.
When the spathae next appeared, after a mysterious lacuna of about two centuries, they became the standard weapon of heavy infantry. The Romans could have borrowed this weapon from the auxiliaries, probably Germanic mercenaries, but the name does not support this origin. Spatha was certainly not a Germanic name, nor is there any indication anywhere what its Germanic name was. There are a plenitude of Germanic names, such as Old English sweord,bill, and so on, but no evidence to tie any name to the spatha, which was never used in Germanic languages as the name of a sword.

The spatha.

fyeahswords:

The spatha was a type of straight and long sword, measuring between 0.75 and 1 m (30 and 39 in), in use throughout first millennium AD Europe, and in the territory of the Roman Empire until about 600 AD. Later swords from 600 AD to 1000 AD are recognizable derivatives, though they are not spathae.

The spatha was used in war and in gladiatorial fights. The spatha of literature appears in the Roman Empire in the first century AD as a weapon used by presumably Germanic auxiliaries and gradually became a standard heavy infantry weapon, relegating the gladius to use as a light infantry weapon. The spatha apparently replaced the gladius in the front ranks, giving the infantry more reach when thrusting. While the infantry version had a long point, versions carried by the cavalry had a rounded tip that prevented accidental stabbing of the cavalryman’s foot.

Archaeologically many instances of the spatha have been found in Britain and Germany. It was used extensively by Germanic warriors. It is unclear whether it came from the Pompeii gladius or the longer Celtic swords, or whether it served as a model for the various broadswords and Viking swords of Europe. The spatha remained popular throughout the Migration Period. It may have evolved into the knightly sword of the High Middle Ages from about 1100 AD, but the large number of sword types that appeared during the period make it difficult to establish links. The details of their manufacture remain mostly unknown.

The word comes from the Latin spatha, which derives from Greek σπάθη (spáthē), meaning “any broad blade, of wood or metal” but also “broad blade of a sword”.

The Greek word σπάθη was used in the middle Archaic period for various types of Iron Age swords. The word does not appear in Homeric Greek, but it is mentioned in the works of Alcaeus of Mytilene (sixth century BC) and Theophrastus (fourth century BC).

It is likely that spatha is the romanization of the Doric Greek *σπάθα (spáthā), considering the Doric acc. plural “σπάθας” (spáthās). The word survives in Modern Greek as σπάθη and σπαθί. The Latin word became the French épée, Catalan espasa, Portuguese and Spanish espada, Italian spada, Romanian spadă and Albanian shpata, all meaning “sword”. The English word spatula comes from Latinspat(h)ula, the diminutive of spatha. English spade, from Old English spadu or spædu, is the Germanic cognate, derived from a Common Germanic *spadō, ultimately from a Proto-Indo-European stem*sph2-dh-.

The spatha was introduced to the Roman army in the early imperial period by Celtic cavalry auxiliaries who continued to wear their Celtic long swords, with blade lengths of 60 to 85 cm, in Roman service. The earlier gladius sword was gradually replaced by the spatha from the late second to the third century AD. From the early 3rd century AD, legionaries and cavalrymen began to wear their swords on the left side, perhaps because the scutum had been abandoned and the spatha had replaced the gladius.

Employed by both Roman cavalrymen and their German enemies, later Lombard spathae were actually more advanced than the wrought iron gladii, being constructed using a form of pattern welding employing layers of iron and steel; in effect, a composite material. Eventually under the later Roman Empire the spatha was adopted by many if not all legionaries.

In the imperial period, the Romans adopted the original Greek term, spathe (σπάθη), as spatha, which still carried the general meaning of any object considered long and flat. Spatha appears first in Pliny and then Seneca with different meanings: a spatula, a metal-working implement, a palm-leaf and so on. There is no hint of any native Roman sword called a spatha.

Referring to an actual sword, the term first appears in the pages of Tacitus with reference to an incident of the early empire. The British king Caractacus, having rebelled, found himself trapped on a rocky hill, so that if he turned one way he encountered the gladii of the legionaries, and if the other, the spathae of the auxiliaries. Left with no other way to turn, he escaped to the Brigantes, leaving his brothers to surrender the men. He was turned over to the Romans by the queen of the Brigantes, who was pardoned by the Senate after a moving plea for mercy, and reigned successfully once more as a Roman client king. Tacitus does not relate who the auxiliaries were. The Romans moved auxiliaries around the frontiers and also relied on local levies. Most examples of spathae come from Germany and east Europe, however. There is an excellent chance that the owners of the spathae were Germanic. There is no indication in Tacitus either that they were cavalry; overall, the Romans used both cavalry and infantry.

When the spathae next appeared, after a mysterious lacuna of about two centuries, they became the standard weapon of heavy infantry. The Romans could have borrowed this weapon from the auxiliaries, probably Germanic mercenaries, but the name does not support this origin. Spatha was certainly not a Germanic name, nor is there any indication anywhere what its Germanic name was. There are a plenitude of Germanic names, such as Old English sweord,bill, and so on, but no evidence to tie any name to the spatha, which was never used in Germanic languages as the name of a sword.

The spatha.

(via dailyreenactor)


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    The spatha.
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