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Old 26th March 2009, 12:20 PM   #1
Oriental-Arms
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Default A 13 C. Crusader sword from the Holy Land

This sword was first posted in the ethnographic forum but the interest in it was quite low. At the suggestion of Jim McDougal I am posting it here with some more information:

This sword was collected in the desert on the surface after a heavy sand storm that moved tons of sand, somewhere in the southern region of the Holy land. The exact location is unknown to me. I chased this sword from quite many years and finally it found a good home in my drawer.



The blade is 33 1/2 inches long, 2 inches wide with traces of wide and long shallow fuller. About 2 inch are missing from the blade tip. The cross guard is of round cross section flaring at its tip and the pommel knob is a heavy steel of polygonal shape. Total length 39 1/2 inches.





The sword was X-Rayed in order to better determine the length of the fuller and to try and learn how it was constructed. The full length of the X-Ray image is here below. (Actually it is composed of three different X-Ray shots)




The X Ray image of the cross guard is also shown below:\



It looks as if the cross guard was prepared separately, heated, hammered into the blade shoulders and let cool down.

The sword is believed to fit to Oakeshott type XII, mid 13 C.

Beside this sword and very unfortunately, in spite of thousands of crusaders marching through the Holy Land during almost 200 years, not a single complete crusader sword was found here, save few fragments in private collections and two swords salvaged from the sea at the old port of Atlit which naturally are nothing more than a pack of rust. This sword is in a surprisingly good condition, with the light blade still flexible.

Your comments are welcome.
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Old 26th March 2009, 12:37 PM   #2
Gavin Nugent
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My comments are quite simple,

Thank you for sharing such a wonderful piece of history. It pleases me to no end to see someone taking such and interest in chasing this piece down and going to such lengths with x-rays to learn more of the swords nature.
Thank you for sharing. If I was a rich man I'd sure be scouring the deserts with a metal detector and a GPS, so much history is still beneath the sands of time.

regards

Gav
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Old 26th March 2009, 07:17 PM   #3
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Artzi, thank you so very much for posting this most amazing sword, a fantastic piece of history that has reposed for so many years beneath the sand. It is wonderful to have the opportunity to view and discuss this here, and I look forward to views from those here with key knowledge on swords of these important historic times.

I'm with Gav, I'd love to be out there with a metal detector too but in the meantime, thanks to you Artzi, we have one here to see!

All very best regards,
Jim
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Old 26th March 2009, 08:22 PM   #4
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Hi,
The Type XII for me epitomises the archetypal 'knights sword'. As far as I can remember this type was one of the most produced in the Medieval period. It does seem unusual that a sword produced in numbers over a long period of time should be so scantily represented in one of the most fought over theatres in the Middle Ages. With an abundance of dry and arid climatic regions you would think that well preserved examples would be more prolific. Perhaps this scarcity is due more to the care of the 'victors' in stripping the battlefield of reusable 'materiel' than anything else, after all weapons grade metal would not be 'a penny a pound'. From memory a distinct feature of Type XII blades is a lenticular cross section it is difficult to see this in the photographs and I just wonder if you could confirm that the blade has this particular property. A really nice addition to any collection.
My Regards,
Norman.
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Old 26th March 2009, 09:05 PM   #5
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really Beautiful sword , and great work with the x-ray.
thank you for placing this interesting thread.
if the rust is "loose" and the sword is in a sound condition you can consider cleaning by electrolyze. (mind. it will not harm the steel but the pitting will be more obvious and the cross guard probably will come loose from the shoulder).

with a medium-strong tapering of the blade, as seen on the pictures and if the point is reinforced,of a flat diamond shaped section??, the classification can also be Oakeshott type XVI.
The date of mid 14THC matches the Pommel variation of type i.

again an amazing sword!


best regards
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Old 26th March 2009, 10:36 PM   #6
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Do NOT use electrolyze. It could destroy the swords's patina.
You could use a dremel/flex and a steel brush instead. That would neither hurt the metal nor the patina, but remove the rust.

Peter
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Old 27th March 2009, 04:14 AM   #7
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Amazing! Thanks for sharing the info
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Old 27th March 2009, 07:25 PM   #8
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The cross section of the tip is definitely not flat diamond, more probably lenticular shape, so type XII for this sword sounds possible. Furthermore, in the 14C. the Holy Land was already taken completely by the Arabs so it would be quite surprising (Although not totaly impossible) to find here a 14 C. European swordis
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Old 27th March 2009, 08:38 PM   #9
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Hi,
With the blade cross section being lenticular, the length of the fuller 2/3~3/4 of blade length and the wide blade root with a continuous taper these attributes would almost certainly bring this blade under the umbrella of Type XII although the possibility of the blade being originally 35 1/2 inches in total could push it into Type XIIa territory as the Type XII's blade was more typically 30~33 inches having said that the grip on this sword must be about 4~5 inches and this would further typify it as a XII. The pommel/crossguard shapes were many and varied on this blade, as the basic profile was around for some time, and they are not used in determining type. Hope this is of some help.
Regards,
Norman.
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Old 29th March 2009, 03:51 AM   #10
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Aritzi, thank you very much for sharing this interesting historical piece. Is not common to see this kind of valuable documental information on the web. I also appreciate very much your kindness in maintaining your sword and knife files open on the web to see, and use this opportunity to thank you for it. You have provided me with many good information and incredible photos to my archive.
All the best for you

Gonzalo
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Old 30th March 2009, 11:30 AM   #11
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The sword is clean and in stable condition, no loose rust. I had the chance to handle it several times, both with its previous and current owners. As said by Atzi, it is very much alive and it never fail to amaze how flexible it is.
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Old 13th April 2009, 05:43 PM   #12
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I keep returning to this amazing sword, and wondering about excavations in regions where the crusades took place. It seems at our annual dinner in I believe 2003, there was an amazing talk given by a young lady who was an archaeologist who had participated in one of these projects. I cannot find my notes, nor recall her name or details of her findings.
Can anyone help?
I am wondering about what seems to have been the remains of a horseman and his horse both with imbedded arrowheads, and apparantly left in situ.

It seems remarkable that no other swords from actions that took place over almost two centuries have been found in such excavations. Any further perspective on this?

All best regards,
Jim
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Old 13th April 2009, 06:53 PM   #13
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Hi Jim,
I don't know if I understand your question correctly (my English is not the best), but if you ask why so few swords are found on battlefields: after the battle, victorious soldiers and peasants from all around came to the battlefield and collected everything that was worth something or could somehow be used, especially undamaged armour and weapons. That's why swords are often missing.
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Old 13th April 2009, 09:34 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by stekemest
Hi Jim,
I don't know if I understand your question correctly (my English is not the best), but if you ask why so few swords are found on battlefields: after the battle, victorious soldiers and peasants from all around came to the battlefield and collected everything that was worth something or could somehow be used, especially undamaged armour and weapons. That's why swords are often missing.



Hi Stekemest,
Thank you so much for responding, and actually, your English is pretty impeccable as far as I can notice. I do understand about the collecting of battlefield pickups which has been common practice as long as there has been warfare, weapons were valuable and hard to come by, so there was actually a sort of cottage industry selling 'surplus'.

What I was wondering is about sites which were either relatively remote, or in desert regions such as the one we are discussing, where its deposit was not necessarily from battle, but perhaps one of a small group was enroute to or from campaign or skirmishing action. As I mentioned, the archaeologist speaking was discussing a find where both human remains and horse were found together. There was no sword or weapon found, so as discussed, these were likely plundered.

As far as I have understood, the only crusades period swords that have been found were either from those that became trophies, some collected from museums, and some from churches, burials etc. I am just trying to discover whether anyone is aware of any excavation, crusades related, that may have uncovered swords, weapons or armour.

Also, I am hoping that someone who was present in 2003 might recall details of the talk given by the archaeologist on finds from crusades areas, I think it might have been Tyre.

Thank you so much for answering!!! It means a lot!!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 15th April 2009, 05:15 AM   #15
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Hi Jim

The lady name was Kate Rafael and the title of her talk was: "Archeology of battle field", specifically related to the excavations in "Ateret" a small crusader fortress on the Jordan river bank. I will call her to find out if she has a copy of her presentation.

Other exacavation related to this period were made in the old city of Acre and many other fortresses, but to the best of my knowlege only few remains of arms and armor were found: armor parts, spear heads mace head, many arrowheads and the like. Not a single sword.
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Old 15th April 2009, 06:14 AM   #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Oriental-Arms
Hi Jim

The lady name was Kate Rafael and the title of her talk was: "Archeology of battle field", specifically related to the excavations in "Ateret" a small crusader fortress on the Jordan river bank. I will call her to find out if she has a copy of her presentation.

Other exacavation related to this period were made in the old city of Acre and many other fortresses, but to the best of my knowlege only few remains of arms and armor were found: armor parts, spear heads mace head, many arrowheads and the like. Not a single sword.



Thank you so much Artzi!!! I really do appreciate that very much, as well as refreshing my memory....I could not find the notes!
This sword you have shared here is by far one of the most important I have seen, and I look forward to more information as can be revealed with more research. It couldn't have found a better home.

All the very best,
Jim
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Old 15th April 2009, 09:25 AM   #17
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To add Artzi's post, Ateret is the modern name to Vadum Iacob, a Templar outpost on the road to Damascus, its history is well documented. Here is a link to the excavation page: http://vadumiacob.huji.ac.il/
I have all the official inventory of edge weapon artifacts (documented crusader period) from the Antiquity Authority, and there are only about two dozens of them, mostly fragments. Two full swords were recovered from under the sea and they are totally encrusted in marine deposit, another important sword lacking its cross guard but do have its original wooden plank scabbard; it has been on loan for the past several year to the L'institut du Monde Arab in Paris. I'm aware of several other partial items in private hands, very few.
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Old 15th April 2009, 02:00 PM   #18
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how much does the sword weigh, artzi?
thanks for posting!
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Old 15th April 2009, 03:27 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by broadaxe
To add Artzi's post, Ateret is the modern name to Vadum Iacob, a Templar outpost on the road to Damascus, its history is well documented. Here is a link to the excavation page: http://vadumiacob.huji.ac.il/
I have all the official inventory of edge weapon artifacts (documented crusader period) from the Antiquity Authority, and there are only about two dozens of them, mostly fragments. Two full swords were recovered from under the sea and they are totally encrusted in marine deposit, another important sword lacking its cross guard but do have its original wooden plank scabbard; it has been on loan for the past several year to the L'institut du Monde Arab in Paris. I'm aware of several other partial items in private hands, very few.



Thank you so much for posting the additional link and information Broadaxe. Extremely helpful ! This is such a fascinating sword, and the more I look at it , the more I want to learn about the archaeology of the crusades.
It seems topics like this are always sort of present, but one gets so busy in the maelstrom of so many daily queries and subjects, something this monumental seems to get put off.
The inspiration here is compelling!

All best regards,
Jim

P.S. Spunjer, good to see you posting here. Havent seen you for a while
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Old 15th April 2009, 06:19 PM   #20
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Ewart Oakeshott has a very nice theory about find places:

quote "it is necessary to say a word about the places at which swords have been found. to be able to say that a certain sword was found on the site of a certain battle, thereby providing a firm terminus post quem date, is of no use at all. If half-a-dozen swords,an Axe or two, dozens of arrow heads and many spears, were to be found on a battle site,this would be evidence.
But it never happens ; it is only the isolated sword that is generally found in a stream or a pond near the battle-site. After any battle, all the debris of value,-and swords above all weapons were of great value, as well as being easily portable-was collected up; all the Armour, clothes,jewelery or any other move able property left upon the dead was stripped off before the bodies were put into pits.................so it must be with so many medieval swords found on or near places where a battle is known to have been fought; but on the sites of great well known battles-Hastings, Evesham, Bouvines, Crecy, Mauron, Sempach,Agincourt,Beauge, Patay,Mont'Lhery,Nancy, Marignano-swords have not been found at all. I believe that any note that a sword was found "near the site of the battle of X" has to be taken with rather more than a pinch of salt. Unquote
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Old 16th April 2009, 06:55 AM   #21
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Jim, you may want to look into this:
http://books.google.com/books?id=a4...esnum=1#PPP1,M1

This book is the most up-to-date single volume about the entire subject. Dr. Boas is a noted medieval archaeologist and was part of the excavators at Ateret, head of the excavation at the Teutonic quarter in Acre and so on.
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Old 16th April 2009, 03:28 PM   #22
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Thank you so much Sa'ar for the additional link, and what a magnificent book! I am tempted to try to get it, but I think I've reached my quota here in the bookmobile...my rolling home. It certainly reflects the outstanding work of these archaeologists in these regions, and I'm looking forward to learning more. I really do appreciate your kind helpfullness!

Cornelis, thank you for adding the excellent assesments on the aftermath of battlefield sites as observed by Mr. Oakeshott. What he notes is certainly one of the well placed axioms of archaeology, that the discovery of a single item without corroborating evidence is simply that of a singular item, and not of larger scale presence.
While the discovery of a single sword with the clearly evident stature of this example, its importance is not so much in representing a particular battle, but that it has been in situ since the period it is from. In this it is extremely exciting, much in the way that shipwrecks are, having remained virtually undisturbed as if time stood still.

Naturally the removal of valuable items such as swords from battle locations was standard, and the examples found are the broken ones or those in marine deposits as noted by Broadaxe.

I cannot imagine what amazing excitement it would be to touch such an artifact for the first time in so many centuries!!! While I know archaeology certainly must have its trials and tediom.....the rush from that must be fantastic!

All the best,
Jim
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Old 18th April 2009, 10:39 AM   #23
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The weight of the sword is 1000 Gramms
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