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Old 2nd November 2021, 10:53 PM   #1
Evgeny_K
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Question Sword for identification

Gents,
I will be glad to get your opinions about this sword. As I know it was found somewhere about city of Sudak (Crimean peninsula). It has straight (but bent) blade with two fullers.
The full lenght of the sword is 90 cm, width of the blade near crossguard is 3 cm.
Perhaps it has an oriental origin and its place in another section of the forum.
Thanks in advance for your comments.
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Old 3rd November 2021, 12:39 AM   #2
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It remembers me of Charlemagne sword at Aachen cathedral and other hunnic swords Hermann Historical tried to sell several times three-four years ago.
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Old 3rd November 2021, 07:33 AM   #3
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10th century Khazar sword?!

http://www.vikingsword.com/vb/showth...ghlight=khazar
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Old 3rd November 2021, 07:36 AM   #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by midelburgo View Post
It remembers me of Charlemagne sword at Aachen cathedral and other hunnic swords Hermann Historical tried to sell several times three-four years ago.
I wouldn't say that they are somewhat similar...
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Old 3rd November 2021, 07:37 AM   #5
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Originally Posted by mariusgmioc View Post
No, I don't think so
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Old 3rd November 2021, 08:53 AM   #6
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with the typical s-shape blade, ......I go for a hungarian sabre variation, 15thC ?

sorry optical illusion because the blade is bent it looks s-shaped. is the last 15cm or so (point) double edged?

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Old 3rd November 2021, 10:31 AM   #7
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Originally Posted by cornelistromp View Post
with the typical s-shape blade, ......I go for a hungarian sabre variation, 15thC ?
I don't quite understand what you mean by "typical s-shape blade". As I said above, the blade is straight, but bent.
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Old 3rd November 2021, 10:53 AM   #8
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"found somewhere about city of Sudak (Crimean peninsula)"

Another strong argument for the Khazar (or related culture - Eurasian Nomads also called "People of the Steppes") origin!

PS: The bending of the tip gave the impression that the sword has double "s-shaped" curvature in the main view.
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Old 3rd November 2021, 01:26 PM   #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mariusgmioc View Post
"found somewhere about city of Sudak (Crimean peninsula)"

Another strong argument for the Khazar (or related culture - Eurasian Nomads also called "People of the Steppes") origin!

PS: The bending of the tip gave the impression that the sword has double "s-shaped" curvature in the main view.
However, this sword doesn't look like typical nomadic swords including Khazar swords.
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Old 3rd November 2021, 03:24 PM   #10
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This is part of a family of 'cuff' hilted swords common across the Byzantine empire and areas of its influence. The style actually dates back to Samanid period. In later times it can be observed as recently as the 18th century in Omani swords. It was used across a very large area and turns up in everything from medieval Mamluk weapons to early Islamic swords in Syria and Arabia.

Yours conforms broadly to others published in the works by Yotov available online regarding finds in Bulgaria and southern Europe.

I would roughly place this in the 10th to 12th centuries.

The guard looks like it might be on backwards by the way. I had the pleasure to do a short article on another similar sword from Dr. Lee Jones which you can find here: http://iainnorman.com/articles-2/25
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Old 3rd November 2021, 03:50 PM   #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain View Post
This is part of a family of 'cuff' hilted swords common across the Byzantine empire and areas of its influence. The style actually dates back to Samanid period. In later times it can be observed as recently as the 18th century in Omani swords. It was used across a very large area and turns up in everything from medieval Mamluk weapons to early Islamic swords in Syria and Arabia.

Yours conforms broadly to others published in the works by Yotov available online regarding finds in Bulgaria and southern Europe.

I would roughly place this in the 10th to 12th centuries.

The guard looks like it might be on backwards by the way. I had the pleasure to do a short article on another similar sword from Dr. Lee Jones which you can find here: http://iainnorman.com/articles-2/25
Thank you, Iain! Very interesting information! I had seen earlier publications about swords with this type of guard, so this one piqued my interest.
By the way, regarding the guard, if it was turned upside down, it was a very, very long time ago)
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Old 3rd November 2021, 04:04 PM   #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Evgeny_K View Post
Thank you, Iain! Very interesting information! I had seen earlier publications about swords with this type of guard, so this one piqued my interest.
By the way, regarding the guard, if it was turned upside down, it was a very, very long time ago)
Hi Evgeny,

Its possible the guard is in the correct orientation, I don't have the benefit of the sword in hand, typically the cuff over the guard is the "wider" element while the lower half of the guard is more circular to accommodate the grip. With the level of corrosion its hard to see exactly how much has been lost around the blade.

I can send you privately several publications on these if you like. But this is 100 percent what your sword is.

The blade was originally straight of course, but obviously the condition and the centuries have distorted it.
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Old 3rd November 2021, 04:36 PM   #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Iain View Post
Hi Evgeny,
I can send you privately several publications on these if you like. But this is 100 percent what your sword is.
It will be great, thank you!
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Old 3rd November 2021, 07:32 PM   #14
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I go along with Iain and his astute reference to the 'cuff' etc.
It seems to me that this resembles a Kirghiz (Kyrgyz) type sword that I saw in a panel of line drawings in a book by Michael Gorelik. In research on the swords of Steppes tribes years ago David Nicolle recommended him, I dont have the book handy so cant recall title.

Similar swords to these are in David Nicolle's works, and there are various types of these in similarity. These tribal groups' history is complex but fascinating and it seems were involved in the evolution of the saber.
I am wondering if the curious curving of the blade on this one has to do with the ceremonial 'killing' of the sword being placed in burials. Not sure of the extent of this practice in these Steppes contexts.

While these swords can in many perspectives be seen as 'Oriental' or 'Asian' they do have aspects that play into European history with respect to the assimilation of these tribes into such populations such as noted in Hungary etc.
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Old 3rd November 2021, 07:55 PM   #15
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
I go along with Iain and his astute reference to the 'cuff' etc.
It seems to me that this resembles a Kirghiz (Kyrgyz) type sword that I saw in a panel of line drawings in a book by Michael Gorelik. In research on the swords of Steppes tribes years ago David Nicolle recommended him, I dont have the book handy so cant recall title.

Similar swords to these are in David Nicolle's works, and there are various types of these in similarity. These tribal groups' history is complex but fascinating and it seems were involved in the evolution of the saber.
I am wondering if the curious curving of the blade on this one has to do with the ceremonial 'killing' of the sword being placed in burials. Not sure of the extent of this practice in these Steppes contexts.

While these swords can in many perspectives be seen as 'Oriental' or 'Asian' they do have aspects that play into European history with respect to the assimilation of these tribes into such populations such as noted in Hungary etc.
This is not a steppes sword or design as we'd classically define it. Rather it filters out of Persia and finds common use among both Islamic and Byzantine forces perhaps as early as the 8th century but certainly by the 9th (see Bashir's Arts of the Islamic Knight for examples) . This one was likely in Crimea because the byzantines controlled the south of the peninsula into the late middle ages. Nothing particularly tribal here. These swords are all over Byzantine wall paintings and art. I've seen them turn up even in Poland. One was uncovered a few years ago there. Just a few references...

Aleksić M. 2010. Some typological features of Byzantine spatha. Зборник радова Византолошког института XLVII, 121-136

Bakradze, I., 2011 Arms and Armory of Georgian Warriors during the 10th - 11th CC. (According to the Archaeological and Written Sources), Works of the Institute of the History of Georgia. Tbilisi, 4. pp. 71–74, 89

Baranov G. V., 2011 Byzantine (Mediterranean) 9th — 11th century swords with sleeve cross-guards, Materials in Archaeology and History of Ancient and Medieval Crimea, Archaeology, History, Numismatics, Sigillography and Epigraphy volume 9 Moscow Tyumen Nizhnevartovsk, 248-283

Bashir M. 2008. The Arts of the Muslim Knight: The Furusiyya Art Foundation Collection. Milano: Skira

Kamburov, S., 2017 Early Medieval “Arabic” Swords in Bulgarian Lands Today, Civilization Boundaries Volume 25, Number 3, 268-297

Rabovyanov, D. 2011, Early Medieval Sword Guards from Bulgaria, Archeologia Bulgarica XV, 2, 73-86

Yotov, V. 2011 A new Byzantine type of swords (7th — 11th centuries). Nish i Vizantiјa IX, 113-124

It's important not to confuse these swords with steppes sabers and blades with a 'tonkou' something entirely different in construction.
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Old 3rd November 2021, 08:15 PM   #16
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Thanks Iain. Well explained and great references. Forgot about Bashir's book.
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Old 4th November 2021, 02:42 AM   #17
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Evgeny,
You have the sword in your hands and it is difficult to argue with you about the configuration of the blade.
The impression of recurvature at the distal part of the blade may indeed be an optical illusion due to the axial bend there. But I still get an impression that the proximal 2/3 of the blade do show some saber-like curvature.
Can you put a long straight ruler along the spine from the quillon to the beginning of the bend and see whether there is a gap?
Crimea was populated by multiple ethnicities , from the Golden Horde to Europeans. The pommel does not resemble any “ oriental” example and the deep wide fuller is also, IMHO, not typical for “oriental” blades of 14-16 century or earlier. There are , however 2 Golden Horde swords of the 12th century ( excavated at Tekstilschik and Kairka) with distinctly yataghan-like recurved blades.
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Old 4th November 2021, 08:31 PM   #18
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel View Post
Evgeny,
You have the sword in your hands and it is difficult to argue with you about the configuration of the blade.
The impression of recurvature at the distal part of the blade may indeed be an optical illusion due to the axial bend there. But I still get an impression that the proximal 2/3 of the blade do show some saber-like curvature.
Can you put a long straight ruler along the spine from the quillon to the beginning of the bend and see whether there is a gap?
Crimea was populated by multiple ethnicities , from the Golden Horde to Europeans. The pommel does not resemble any “ oriental” example and the deep wide fuller is also, IMHO, not typical for “oriental” blades of 14-16 century or earlier. There are , however 2 Golden Horde swords of the 12th century ( excavated at Tekstilschik and Kairka) with distinctly yataghan-like recurved blades.
Hi Ariel,
At this moment the sword isn't in my hands, but I asked to do such kind of measurement of the curvature of the blade. The result is on photo. So I was mistaken when I said that the blade is straight - it has a clear curvature.
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Old 4th November 2021, 08:49 PM   #19
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Thanks!
Sorry for bothering you again, but this pic looks more informative than the earlier ones.
What is the width of the blade by the handle vs. close to the tip? Is there some kind of yelman-like configuration?

I also do not see much similarity with the " steppes" ( nomadic) swords. It looks at least a couple of centuries younger. I would not exclude some Ottoman or even Zaporozhian cossacs Kilij/pala.
You can look for books by Denis Toichkin ( in Ukrainian). I am not feeling well these days ( nothing terrible or dangerous, just some hip muscle tear), stay in bed most of the time and have codein with every meal and any occasional snacks. Cannot think very straight and am useless as a " consultant":-(((
Sorry.

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Old 4th November 2021, 09:02 PM   #20
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see the examples of Baranov sword type Galovo.

in following link

http://truehistoryshop.com/byzantine-militarist-swords/


The sleeve of the sword of post 1 indeed seems reversed because the whiskers are not pointing towards the point.

Then the question of dating remains.
were there In the 11th century single-edged blades with such a pronounced fuller ?, or has this type Galovo been common for centuries?

best,
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Old 4th November 2021, 09:15 PM   #21
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Quote:
Originally Posted by cornelistromp View Post
see the examples of Baranov sword type Galovo.

in following link

http://truehistoryshop.com/byzantine-militarist-swords/


The sleeve of the sword of post 1 indeed seems reversed because the whiskers are not pointing towards the point.

Then the question of dating remains.
were there In the 11th century single-edged blades with such a pronounced fuller ?, or has this type Galovo been common for centuries?

best,
That link basically uses all the papers and sources I posted.

Thanks for the clear picture Evgeny of the blade.

These cuff hilts can appear with a curved blade. There's actually a couple hiding in the link you posted although with slightly different designs but the family resemblence is clear. In an image from the collection of a private Bulgarian citizen. I'm attaching the original image here for reference, 4th sword from the right and second from the left.
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Old 5th November 2021, 08:43 AM   #22
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ariel View Post
Thanks!
Sorry for bothering you again, but this pic looks more informative than the earlier ones.
What is the width of the blade by the handle vs. close to the tip? Is there some kind of yelman-like configuration?

I also do not see much similarity with the " steppes" ( nomadic) swords. It looks at least a couple of centuries younger. I would not exclude some Ottoman or even Zaporozhian cossacs Kilij/pala.
You can look for books by Denis Toichkin ( in Ukrainian). I am not feeling well these days ( nothing terrible or dangerous, just some hip muscle tear), stay in bed most of the time and have codein with every meal and any occasional snacks. Cannot think very straight and am useless as a " consultant":-(((
Sorry.
Ariel, you do not bother me at all, on the contrary, I am very pleased with your participation in the discussion

The width of the blade is 3,1 cm near the crossguard, 2,8 cm in the middle part and 3,1 cm near the tip. So the blade is almost the same width along the entire length.

Get well soon! Поправляйтесь!
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Old 5th November 2021, 06:09 PM   #23
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I wanted add some of my own perspective here in line with the excellent views that have been placed. While I have a great deal of familiarity with the swords of Asia, the Steppes and Central Asia into Europe, I cannot claim the focused expertise of the members who have posted on this thread.

I observed earlier that the sword in the OP reminded me of Kirghiz type swords of the Steppes from recollections of line drawings on these swords in books I did not have on hand presently and from research over 25 years ago. As Ian noted from earlier threads there were elements of similarity to 'Siberian' sabers in certain studies.

Here I would point out that the tunkou, while a predominant element of these types of sabers, is not a defining element of 'all' Steppes swords, though these are prevalent it seems in the varying types from the many tribal groups.

In revisiting the resources I had been recalling finally, I found the plate of swords I had mentioned., including 'Kirghiz' examples. What was notable in the plate was illustrating the Kirghiz practice (not exclusive to them, but notable to Steppes tribal groups in degree) of ritually 'killing' a sword before depositing in a burial by heating and bending it rendering it no longer viable.

This is why I brought this up earlier.....influence.

In "The Long Sword and Scabbard Slide in Asia", William Trousdale, 1975, p.118...it discusses these and that "...we have traced a great circular diffusion route, from China through Central Asia to the Meditteranean and Black Sea regions and BACK (capitals mine) eastward across the north Eurasian steppe to the borders of China".
It is noted that this was not a closed circle, and northern extensions are hypothetical, and various offshoots were of course prevalent.

This emphatically illustrates the complex and profound diffusion of these sword forms ACROSS the Steppes, into European regions and others including Balkan, Baltic, of course Byzantine (incl. Meditteranean), in an extended wave over centuries of nomadic migrations.

The Kirghiz, tribes of northern parts of the Steppes gradually had assimilated into Mongol hordes by the early 13th c. along with other Turkic groups.
As we know these Mongol hordes moved westward and were well established in East Europe, notably Hungary.

To think that the influences of these numerous Turkic groups were not carried into Mongol hordes or any other tribal assimilations and included in varied degree and interpretation as these groups went through these regions seems a bit arbitrary.

Here I would note that Crimea in the times considered was primarily Tatar, and as noted Byzantine in southern regions. The Tatars were of course of Steppes tribal groups, while the Byzantines had weapons which had in degree absorbed both influences from the east (as noted), as well as the Romans (early Roman swords seem often to have had 'cuffs' over blade roots).

I hope these notes will substantiate my suggestions of Steppes thus Eastern influences which of course were filtered through Iranian conduit as well.
The pommel is an interesting but not defining element of the sword we discuss.

These long swords and various elements accompanying them were quite literally key in the evolution of the saber and swords as used over centuries in the west, and reflected many aspects and elements of the diverse forms carried westward.

We know the alleged provenence of this early sword, so with that we can presume the potential classification of groups it may have belonged to.
However attempting to classify this sword specifically by form alone seems it would be futile. Regardless, it is an outstanding sword reflecting the numerous influences I have suggested as possible factors.

Plate 1: from "the Mongol Warlords", David Nicolle, p.41

Plate 2: from "Arms and Armor of the Crusading Era 1050-1350". 1988,
#1443, a saber from Esztergum., Hungary (10-11th c) near Visigrad, first capital of Hungary.
It is noted these were based on earlier examples of Central Asian forms used by Turkic warriors.
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Old 5th November 2021, 08:10 PM   #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jim McDougall View Post
We know the alleged provenence of this early sword, so with that we can presume the potential classification of groups it may have belonged to.
However attempting to classify this sword specifically by form alone seems it would be futile. Regardless, it is an outstanding sword reflecting the numerous influences I have suggested as possible factors.
Thanks for the detailed write up Jim summarizing your earlier points and finding the source you were referring to. Of course the sword we are discussing and these early medieval Byzantine and Islamic swords as a whole derive from a myriad of influences and steppes sabres have their part to play in that. However I think in the case of the two sabres I highlighted in my last post the influences may go a little bit the other way around. I think its important to not just focus on visual form but methods of construction and while I am certainly no expert in this field, rather simply an enthusiast, a typical steps guard of the type you illustrated is manufactured in rather a different manner than the castings used for the 'cuff' guards we are discussing. Certainly both can feature quite short 'arms' and have other similarities and of course features and elements of both blend over time but I think there are still some distinctions in place in the time frame we are discussing.

Rather I think steppes blade styles finding their way into fashion is as key as the guards, leading to the interesting piece under discussion. But that's just my two cents and I don't want to derail this thread into a long discussion on the entire history of the eastern and near eastern sword. Perhaps just to leave a small point that Byzantine interactions with heavy cavalry of the Sassanids and then their wars with various Islamic factions had a huge influence on their military as much as the Steppes incursions into Europe.

Suffice to say the area this was found in had a myriad of groups and influences and steppes sabres as well as Byzantine designs, which in turn borrowed from a wide variety of sources. For me its quite clear what Evgeny's sword is based on the images shown but of course nothing beats having it in the hand for a closer examination. I look forward very much to seeing it properly conserved!
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