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Gladus, Falcata and other antique swords

Gladus, Falcata and other antique swords

The Gladius was for a long time a favoured one-handed weapon in the ancient Roman world. From about 300 BC 300 AD, infantrymen of the Roman legions led those short swords, which are still today called "Gladius" (in the language used at the time was every sword a "Gladius"). These include the most famous types "Mainz" and "Pompeii", which differ (usually) only in terms of their blade shape - while the blade is straight in the "Pompeii" type, the “Mainz” blade tapers towards the tip. Both have the largely identical, distinctive handle with a spherical pommel, and are primarily suitable for stabbing in close combats, while the two-edged blade enables also allows cutting blows.

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Gladus, Falcata and other antique swords

Falcata

The falcata is a type of sword typical of the pre-Roman Iberian Peninsula (modern Spain and Portugal), similar to the Turkish yatagan, Greek kopis or Nepalese kukri. The falcata-like swords were derived from the sickle-shape knives of the Iron Age; that too explains their ritual uses. It is thought that it was introduced in the Iberian Peninsula by the Celts who spread the iron technology. It seems that its origin is parallel to the Greek Kopis, and not derived from it.

Gladius

Gladius  was the roman word for sword, and is used to represent the primary sword of Ancient Rome soldiers. Early ancient Roman swords were similar to those used by the Greeks. From the 3rd century BC, the Romans adopted swords similar to those used by the Celtiberians and others during the early part of the conquest of Hispania. This sword was known as the Gladius Hispaniensis, or "Hispanic Sword". It was thought that they were similar to the later Mainz types, but the evidence now suggests otherwise. Rather, these early blades followed a slightly different pattern, being longer and narrower, and were probably those that Polybius considered good for both cut and thrust. Later Gladii are referred to as the Mainz, Fulham, and Pompeii types. In the late Roman period, Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus refers to swords called semispathae (or semispathia) and spathae, for both of which he appears to consider gladius an appropriate term.

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