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Thread: Ancient European Weapons, Tools, and artifacts!

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  1. #1
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    Martiobarbuli

    May 2012
    Wyoming
    White's
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    1298 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting

    Ancient European Weapons, Tools, and artifacts!

    As most of us here I have many hobbies and collections, but the richest and most personally interesting realm of research and collecting is antiquities from ancient European cultures and civilizations, spanning Paleolithic tools of the Neanderthals through melee weapons from the 17th century. I was in 8th grade when I first saw "The Gladiator" and was infected with a deep desire to own an ancient Roman spearhead, which began my voyage down the rabbit-hole of the magnificent world of ancient treasures and their historical context and implications.

    From crude stone hand-axes used to reach the marrow in the bones of ancient extinct beasts to Hungarian battle-axes used to reach the brains of their invading Muslim foes, holding the items unlock a vast wealth of awe-inspiring historical reality, and connects you to the tangible truth of the men and women who held and used that same item on the other side of the misty shroud of Time. Those individuals, though their names have been lost and faces forgotten, lived and loved and dreamed and struggled and died, and were just as real as you or I. Perhaps far more real even, compared to the decadent and purposeless lives so many suffer through now. They at least had a mission and purpose; to invest their blood, sweat and tears into the foundation of the modern world! With their humble stone tools they slowly learned how to tame land and beast, discovering agriculture, animal husbandry, and then began to dabble in the magic of Metallurgy.

    When humanity mastered the metallurgical arts, we were launched on an unstoppable trajectory to the awesome wonders of the modern day. The continuum from a pointy rock to the Space Station is a clear progression of human mastery through the long march of time, with different items from different eras representing the stepping-stones of progress our species has created and then moved forward upon. Small notes in a beautiful symphony as old and complex and dynamic as our whole extraordinary species.

    Touching the same surface held by one of our collective ancestors is like shaking hands with those who created and lit the gleaming torch of Civilization. It is upon their backs that the modern day has been built, and I'd like to think I honor them, whoever they were, by preserving and pondering the material traces of their lives.

    ~~~~~~~~~~

    First up are 2 great prizes, the one on the right being a Middle Bronze Age (~3,200 years old) riveted dagger with original bone handle, found in the boggy, tannin-rich anoxic river muck excavated from a construction project on The Rukin in Amsterdam. Such conditions are excellent for preserving bone, and don't allow for the generation of the more stereotypical green bronze patina. It's blade was cracked in antiquity, perhaps a "ritual sacrifice" of the dagger, or perhaps the mundane cause of it being discarded by the transitory Bronze-Age inhabitants of the area (though doubtful, as it would still have been very valuable). It is scribed (not stamped) with an "evil eye" symbol on both sides, and exhibits lovely graceful curves of blade and handle.

    The other is a Late Bronze Age knife (~2,800 years old), found in a near the Danube river in Northwest Bulgaria, and likewise retains the majority of its original bone handle, though some of the bottom was not preserved. The handle was clearly lathe-turned and conical/cylindrical, and bears simple decoration which is quite charming.

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    Next are some ancient Sling Bullets, projectiles used in war and launched using the "shepherd's sling" (i.e. David vs Goliath sling). The first projectiles were stone, but then more uniform baked clay projectiles were developed, followed by devastating cast lead bullets, and then my own arcane specialty; the Bi-metallic lead/bronze and solid bronze bullets with sharpened blades; extremely rare and wickedly deadly relative to the already deadly blunt lead bullets.

    Many have embossed inscriptions (both insults and indications of loyalty/origin of the launchers) and images, such as scorpions, lightning bolts, snakes etc. to symbolize the stinging/striking/biting of the enemy.

    My bullets range between a trifling 18 grams to a crushing 147 grams. If we say that the velocity upon release is 250FPS, the largest bullet would have 426.8 Joules of kinetic energy, compared to 245 joules for a .380 round or 467 joules for a 9mm. At 300fps, which I fully believe was achievable by professional slingers, you get 615 joules, not far behind a .357 mag at 672 joules.

    The main difference between the small fast modern bullets and the slower larger bullets of antiquity is that a modern bullet may well pass right through, whereas a sling bullet would transfer all its energy into the victim; crushing bones and rupturing organs even if it doesn't penetrate. Fearsome enough just as a lump of lead, but truly terrifying when the bullets are upgraded with razor-blades and wielded by marksmen who can hit a face-sized target at 50-100 yards!

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    The Bi-metallic bullets, with a lead core cast around the bronze blade section, are only known from the island of Cyprus and even there are extraordinarily rare. I found 2 referenced in museum collections on the island in some obscure archaeological articles, and with 4 in possession (quite a story in itself) I probably have the largest accumulation of such rarities in either private or institutional hands in the world. I think they date from the early 5th century BC.

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    Much much more to come!

  2. #2
    Charter Member
    us
    Classic car lover

    Jul 2017
    some where in the great state of Texas
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    that is a neat collection
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  3. #3
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    Kace

    Aug 2017
    MOx2--KS
    Whites DFX, Whites Bullseye 2 Pointer, Audio 200 D Headphones, Garrett AT MAX, Garrett Pro-Pointer AT, MS-3 Headphones, Lesche Digger, Lesche Shovel, 4' T Handle Probe. GoPro, RC Truck, Drone.
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    VERY NICE and Really Unique! Thanks for the photos and story behind them.

    Kace
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  4. #4
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    Martiobarbuli

    May 2012
    Wyoming
    White's
    926
    1298 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Thanks!

    Here are three 3rd -7th Century A.D. miniature amphora-shaped Lead medicine ampules, the one I've managed to identify so far being on the left, which reads ΜΑΡΚE-ΛIΟΝ / YΓΕΙ-ΝΟΝ or loosely "Markelinian medicine", likely named after or referencing a recipe invented by the famous 2nd century physician Markellos (Marcellus) of Side, in Roman Asia Minor (on the southern coast of Turkey). I'm not sure about the hollow head, it has a Constantinian dynasty look to it but its function (if not purely ornamental) is still uncertain. The amphora ampules, and particularly the one invoking the famed Marcellus (some of his ancient recipes still survive), would have contained "medicine" which at that time was also considered to be imbued with magical properties in addition to whatever actual biological or medicinal properties the contents actually happened to possess. The lines between science and the supernatural weren't terribly well defined back then.

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    kingskid1611, T.C. and gold boy like this.

  5. #5
    Charter Member
    us
    Classic car lover

    Jul 2017
    some where in the great state of Texas
    Teknectics eurotek pro bounty hunter time ranger bounty hunter quick draw 2 used a teroso compadre. Carry a 22 cal. six-shooter.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Plumbata View Post
    Thanks!

    Here are three 3rd -7th Century A.D. miniature amphora-shaped Lead medicine ampules, the one I've managed to identify so far being on the left, which reads ΜΑΡΚE-ΛIΟΝ / YΓΕΙ-ΝΟΝ or loosely "Markelinian medicine", likely named after or referencing a recipe invented by the famous 2nd century physician Markellos (Marcellus) of Side, in Roman Asia Minor (on the southern coast of Turkey). I'm not sure about the hollow head, it has a Constantinian dynasty look to it but its function (if not purely ornamental) is still uncertain. The amphora ampules, and particularly the one invoking the famed Marcellus (some of his ancient recipes still survive), would have contained "medicine" which at that time was also considered to be imbued with magical properties in addition to whatever actual biological or medicinal properties the contents actually happened to possess. The lines between science and the supernatural weren't terribly well defined back then.

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    really nice
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  6. #6
    us
    Oct 2014
    florida
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    Quite the COLLECTION, love to see more!
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  7. #7
    us
    Martiobarbuli

    May 2012
    Wyoming
    White's
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    Here is a selection of 2,200+ year old artifacts from the northern Black Sea region of modern-day Ukraine and Russia, where the Cimmerians, Scythians, and other ancient peoples intermingled with Greeks and their great civilization. A few hundred Scythian and Cimmerian bronze arrowheads from the 8th-3rd century BC, a barbed iron spearhead, A solid iron Scythian warrior's "Akinakes" dagger from the 5th-3rd century BC, A nice Scythian beastly bronze strap fitting/mount, some 7th-5th c. BC "arrow-coins", and a pod of 6th-4th c. BC "dolphin coins" from the ancient city of Olbia (coastal Ukraine), including the iconic Olbian dolphin coin marked APIXO. The dolphin coins were worth 1/10th of an "Obol", which was a tiny silver coin worth 1/6th of a "Drachm", the standard 3-4 gram silver coin of the ancient Greek world.

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    Last edited by Plumbata; Nov 04, 2018 at 04:47 PM.

  8. #8
    us
    Aug 2018
    SW Missouri
    Garrett All Terrain Pro
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Hope to see more of your collection. Very educational posts.
    Plumbata likes this.
    You may forget but let me tell you this: someone in some future time will think of us-Sappho

  9. #9
    us
    Martiobarbuli

    May 2012
    Wyoming
    White's
    926
    1298 times
    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    The Roman Plumbata, a fascinating piece of ancient military technology, is one of my personal favorites that has made quite a deep impression, maybe possibly evidenced by my choice of username

    Also referred to as Martiobarbuli, or "The Little Barbs of Mars" (the god of war), the Lead-weighted Iron-tipped Plumbatae were carried by soldiers in Rome's Legions to be deployed as a cross between a javelin and an arrow, thrown underhand like Lawn Darts (which some Californian had banned; true to their unceasing no-fun-allowed attitude), instead of overhand like their heavier throwing-spears or javelins. Each soldier equipped with Plumbatae carried 5 within the hollow of his shield, which could be retrieved and hurled swiftly and effectively; able to achieve very high trajectories to land almost vertically behind shields or defenses or on a flat trajectory to strike accurately when more proximal targets appeared. They were made to wound more-so than directly kill, with the weighted barbed head lodged in the victim making engaging in effective combat impossible. They were very effective against horses, where their bouncing-around while lodged in flesh drove the horses mad, thus making them uncontrollable weapons in their own right. Their primary era of use was from the 2nd through 5th century A.D.

    They had a fletched wooden shaft, and were 1.5-2 feet in length. An impressive element of classically "Roman" practical engineering was how the lead weight at the base of the barbed iron head also formed the socket into which the shaft was fixed. This was adequately strong for handling by the Romans, but the force of impact and/or subsequent trampling by enemy troops would easily cause the shaft to be broken or lead socket portion to bend, making it much less likely that if a Plumbata missed its mark it could be recovered and used by the enemy. A very clever bit of technology! The weapon was apparently used to some degree by the Byzantines until sometime in the 7th century, around when the rise of Islam spelled the end of the era known as Late Antiquity.

    I bought my first Plumbata when I was 15 in '03, the fine example on the bottom of the picture and in my avatar pic. At the time I considered it a distant dream to oneday be able to acquire 5 of the rarities; the full set carried by a Roman legionary. I now own 7, plus 3 partial examples and another 3 lacking lead but likely to have been used in the same manner. I'm awaiting the arrival of a full-size barbed light-javelin before taking what oughta be a rather respectable group-picture.

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    And here is a picture of someone's reproductions; a decent representation of how they would have looked complete with shaft:

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  10. #10
    Charter Member
    us
    Classic car lover

    Jul 2017
    some where in the great state of Texas
    Teknectics eurotek pro bounty hunter time ranger bounty hunter quick draw 2 used a teroso compadre. Carry a 22 cal. six-shooter.
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    wow you have a very cool collection
    Plumbata likes this.

  11. #11
    us
    Martiobarbuli

    May 2012
    Wyoming
    White's
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    All Types Of Treasure Hunting
    Thank you gold boy! I agree and intend to keep collecting this stuff until I drop dead (I expect I'll still have packages coming in after they bury me, lol). I started collecting US coins when I was 5 and had a great hunger for history, so it was only a matter of time before I gravitated toward the oldest pieces of history available instead of keeping myself boxed-in by the much younger history and artifacts of the USA. I see people spend thousands on collectible antique knives from the 1800s for example, and when I hold my bone-handled Bronze-Age antiquities that were already ancient when Christ walked the Earth I know that I'm collecting the far better stuff, (at least for me).

    Here is a set of bronze sling bullets and arrowheads found within 1 kilometer of the ancient city of Paphos, situated on the western side of the southern coast of Cyprus (the pointy-bladed one is featured earlier).

    The city was attacked and besieged by the Persians in ~497 BC, and excavations have shown that the defenders used slings in their ultimately unsuccessful defense of the city, while the Persians rained arrows on the defenders. The long tanged arrowhead may be unrelated (not too sure about them but the style seems endemic to Cyprus and rather common there, perhaps Bronze-Age), but the small triangular point is almost certainly Persian, and the 2 wicked bladed and 1 normal bronze sling bullets are almost certainly projectiles launched by the Cypriot defenders. It's rare that one can get such solid provenance for artifacts that they can be reliably linked with recorded historical events, which makes this little collection rather special, beyond the rarity of the items themselves divorced of their concrete historical context.

    Top arrowhead is 8.53g, 65mm. Triangular Persian arrowhead is 2.52g, 18mm. Left normal blunt bronze bullet is 51.82g, 40mm. Classy bladed bullet in center is 43.83g, 46mm, right bladed bullet is 39.75g, 38mm. All bronze bullets are rare, especially ones with blades. I am awaiting 2 more bullets associated with the Siege of Paphos.

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  12. #12
    us
    Martiobarbuli

    May 2012
    Wyoming
    White's
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    To clarify about the Bronze-Age knife and dagger with preserved bone handles, the vast preponderance of Bronze-Age items had their organic components rot away or turn to dust eons ago, leaving behind only the bronze. The 2 knives I own happen to be the only 2 with original handles I have ever seen for sale, and recognizing their obnoxious rarity and value I made sure I won them. I have seen many more with artificially aged fake/modern handles, but those are for ignorant unperceptive folk to fight-over and and waste their money on. It's sad that there are so many people buying modern or altered junk out there, but it also means much less competition for the genuine stuff when they're all drooling over fakes and forgeries.

    Here's a pic of the well preserved Dutch dagger among an assortment of Bronze-Age knives and daggers in a more typical handle-less condition:
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    Regarding sling bullets, they sometimes can be concretely linked to individuals, such as Lysimachus (c. 360 BC – 281 BC) who was a Macedonian officer and diadochus ("successor") of Alexander the Great, who became a basileus ("King") in 306 BC, ruling Thrace, Asia Minor and Macedon. I have 3 coins of Lysimachus, 2 bronzes and an aesthetically appealing 4.12g, 18mm silver drachm proudly inscribed with ΛΥΣΙΜΑΧΟΥ on the reverse behind the seated Zeus. The 2 lead sling bullets were inscribed "ΛΥ" on one side and embossed with a very busy monogram on the other side that may well incorporate all the characters in Lysimachus' name. I had a hard time identifying the first damaged bullet but lucked upon a very helpful archaeological report which presented images of identical bullets and identified them as having been used by the armies of Lysimachus; a wonderful resolution to my hunt for information. The coinage of Lysimachus often bore monograms, and among the variety used one can find examples which are extremely similar if not identical to those embossed on the bullets.

    Left bullet, which got chopped by the detectorist's shovel, is 36.72g, 35mm. Right bullet is 39.26g, 35mm.
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    And when not linked to individuals, often bullets can at least be linked with cities. Here's a 28.43g, 31mm lead bullet with an awesome embossed 3-legged Triskelion, a symbol common in the ancient world but apparently used as the city symbol for Aspendos and neighboring Selge in Asia Minor (Turkey). Shown is a chunky ~11 gram silver 3rd century BC "stater" from Selge (the same type of coins were also minted in Aspendos) depicting a slinger holding his sling overhead and the Triskelion symbol of the city, so my theory is that the renowned slinger-mercenaries of that region used such bullets to warn the enemy that their day was going to get much much worse. Pretty awesome pair I think!
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  13. #13
    Charter Member
    us
    Classic car lover

    Jul 2017
    some where in the great state of Texas
    Teknectics eurotek pro bounty hunter time ranger bounty hunter quick draw 2 used a teroso compadre. Carry a 22 cal. six-shooter.
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    just a unbelievable collection you have there
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  14. #14
    us
    Martiobarbuli

    May 2012
    Wyoming
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    Here's the group shot of my 7 lead-weighted Roman Plumbatae, plus some barbed points which may well be tips of Roman darts used in the same manner but are lacking lead for some reason (supply-chain issues?), 2 broken barbed tips, and a 11.5 inch barbed javelin in center which could be a Germanic "Ango" or Roman adoptive equivalent; used by the Late Roman military when their ranks swelled with Germanic soldiers whose culture and experience altered the toolkit of the Roman army. Even if they didn't draw blood they would have been very effective at penetrating shields and then getting stuck, thus denying the enemy of the use of their shield which would have to be discarded, then making them extremely vulnerable.

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  15. #15
    ca
    Hawks88

    Aug 2012
    Niagara falls
    Equinox 600, fisher gold bug pro.
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    Awesome collection.
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