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Old 28th February 2009, 11:53 PM   #22
Gonzalo G
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Join Date: Apr 2007
Location: Nothern Mexico
Posts: 458

I must apologize for my delayed and out of phase responses, but I have no internet connection, so I have to wait until I can connect from some place. There is an article related with the methodology used to dating the Tizona in the Complutense University, published by Gladius, Vol. XXI, 2001 (‘Modelo para la Datación de Hierros y Aceros Antiguos Aplicado a Tizona’ by José Manuel Jiménez, Daniel Arias, Esther Bravo, Juan Antonio Martínez y Antonio J. Criado), in which very briefly (hardly 18 lines), the method is described (and not really explained, as maybe it was not the intention of this article to reach much deep in this technicalties) on the grounds that the steels changes their structure from the moment they are forged, through the passing of time, due a diffusing process which produces an structural ageing at normal environmental temperature. This process results in a more relaxed structure from the strains created during the original forge, with more perfect crystalline structure, and therefore more stable. Some aspects of this change are enumerated, as the segregation of the excess of carbon from the ferrite, the production of cementite prismatic crystals in the perlite, the stress relieving produced by the staggering and growing of crystals, and, in the martensite, by the segregation and growing of spheroidized iron carbides with a morphology of clusters. A mathematic model (Porter y Easterling, 1981) is invoked as been used to calculate the date of production of the blade, and in the conclusions of this article, this date is established as 950 years ago. Taking on account that this article was published in 2001, we can deduct the date of production in the year 1051 AD.

I can’t make a scientific analysis of this article, since I am not a metallurgist. But I feel it places more questions than answers. Maybe one of the metallurgists in this forum would be so kind to help us in this area. I can help with translations from this article, though I also have some doubts about my proper use of metallurgical terms in english.

The whole article has only 12 pages, and it seems more as a succinct abstract of a bigger publication, and really it does not explains in detail the scientific bases in which those methods and mathematic models are based. Apart from the fact that the results of this study seems to be unconfirmed by another metallurgical laboratories. There are also two points of interests in this article. First, the fact that in the Fig. 1, there is a description of the blade as ‘andalusi’, jineta or slashing, suitable for cavalry fighting. The statements included in this description are not based in any ground. Why this sword is specifically andalusian, and not from another place of production? Are ‘jineta’ (or gineta) and ‘slashing’ equivalent concepts? It seems that the ‘or’ is superfluos and confusing. Why would be this type of blade would be called specifically ‘jineta’? Which would be the distinctive features of a jineta blade? Would it not be just a common period blade from medieval Europe? I must point that this blade have a central fuller in a style I have not seen in other muslim jineta swords, but in many medieval swords. Tough I have not seen all the muslim jineta swords and I can be mistaken.

Another point of interest is the fact that there is a mention of two kinds of metals composing the blade: softer steel in the core and harder steel in the outside or envelope of the blade. This could point more to an european production, though I can’t make a definitive statement about this point, as the history of the sword production in the Iberian Peninsula in this time period is yet to be made, in my opinion, and the possible differences among arab and christian methods is also to be established (or at least, I must confess that I have no knowledge about any comparative study of this kind). But this mention also produces more questions about the place of production of this sword, since part of Andalusia was in the hands of christians, and part in the hands of the arabs. Which cities or places in Andalusia produced swords in this period? Is this an arab, or a christian produced sword? Is there a time period in which this kind of blades is common in many countries in Europe? Or, is this kind of blade a specific and exclusive product of certain geographical and cultural area?

Returning to the point of the craft of a medieval blade: some sources (Allan R. Williams, ‘Methods of Manufacture of Swords in Medieval Europe: Illustrated by the Metallography of Some Examples’, in Gladius Vol. XIII, 1977) mention the use of pattern welding technique as the method used predominantly in Europe to the 10th Century. During the 10th -11th Century, according with this source, the swords were made frequently by a simple piling of iron and steel bars. Blades from the 11th -15th Centuries are described to be manufactured by a single bar of iron, case-carburized once the blade is made, or welding separate pieces of iron and steel, or welding different kinds of steel. But this source only studied swords outside of the Iberian Peninsula, and only belonged to a small group of samples. Spanish sources (Fraxno and Bouligny) mention the systematic use of iron cored blades, in an envelope of steel in the manufacture of spanish sword blades in the city of Toledo. From other source, we know those methods were used at least from the 18th Century by the bladesmiths from this city (José María Peláez Valle, ‘Comentarios Metalúrgicos a la Tecnología de Procesos de Elaboración del Acero de las Espadas de Toledo Descritas en el Documento de Palomares de 1772’, in Gladius, Vol. XVII, 1986). But in the same article, it is referenced that the Count of Valencia de Don Juan, wrote that when Dionisio Corrientes, a famous toledan bladesmith, died in 1773, also died the last bladesmith who knew the old antique techniques to make swords. The disappearance of the traditional toledan techniques in making blades and the lack of continuity of the old traditions is additionally pointed out in the article ‘Los cuchillos de Albacete’, by Juan J. Rodríguez Lorente, in Gladius, Vol. VI, 1967: ‘…as it seems to be evident from the fact that only an old master from Valencia {another city} could be found to take the direction of the new Factory {the Toledo Factory of Edged Weapons, founded in 1760}, when the old toledan bladesmiths and their traditions already had died or were about to die. I have not found information about the techniques used by the spanish arabs or mozarabs to make swords, and if they were different from the ones used by the christians in the non-arab dominated area. It must be said that the tests conducted in the laboratories of the Complutense University do not produce any certainty that the sword in fact belonged to El Cid, as they can only increase the factual possibility of this belonging, and, as I have mentioned before, I don’t know if the autentification documents were also recovered with the sword, and when these papers were made.

Another point of interest in this article is the reference to this blade as ‘cemented’, or case-oven hardened. This is gives us another interpretation about the two different kind of steels composing the blade and the process of manufacture. Also, it seems that Marrero had other sources with information about the results from the Complutense study, and he makes several interesting statements taken from his sources. The responsible of the study was the Prof. Antonio José Criado, the basis to state that the blade is andalusian seems to be the comparison of this blade with archaeological cementated or case hardened objects from the andalusian and Toledo area (nails and such), the blade had supposedly a double interrupted quenching and the name of tizona was given, according with this source, to any exceptional sword of this type. There is a strange reference to a history from the arab chronicler Al-Hulal about a gift to the almoravid emir Abu Bekr in the mid 11th Century, from his relative the emir Tusuf, of a set of ‘tizonas’. It is not specified if the swords were made in the Iberian Peninsula, as these emirs still were on North Africa at the moment when the gift was made.

Interestingly, is the fact that the owners of the Colada refused to submit this sword to a similar study in the Complutense University laboratories (Juan Antonio Marrero Cabrera, ‘La Tizona en Palacio’, in Militaria, No. 14, 2000). I wonder by which reasons they didn´t want their sword to be tested. In this last article, it also mentioned that the inscription dating the Tizona was made two centuries latter, in the 13th Century, meanwhile the article about the dating of the Tizona in Gladius seems to place this inscription more latter, so the date, based on the inscription, can be reasonably be questioned. I wonder why somebody felt the need to make this inscription with the use of acid, as if the sword needed additional validation. Other specialists have been questioned the age of this blade based in the general typology of the swords from this period. These facts had produced before serious doubts about the authenticity of the sword, and some people suspected a forgery. It was not rare to make forgeries or replications of older swords in the actual territory of Spain, especially in the 19th Century, as we can infer from the numerous items found from this kind in the present day.

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