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Home > Auctions > 24th May 2022 > Migration Period Sword with Gold and Garnet Fittings

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LOT 0340

GBP (£) 10,000 - 14,000
EUR (€) 11,660 - 16,330
USD ($) 12,490 - 17,490

Sold for (Inc. bp): £12,350



A group of sword fittings and a blade comprising: a double-edged spatha with a lentoid parallel-sided iron blade and well preserved pointed tip; evidence of battle nicks on both cutting edges; a gold-sheet for the hilt, divided into thirteen sections by beaded banding, to the top part an inset garnet cabochon; a domed chalcedony pommel; a domed gilt pommel cap with ropework decoration to the rim, central inset garnet cabochon flanked by teardrop-shaped cells, two with inset glass and six with inset bone inserts; a pair of gold scabbard fittings, one plain with beaded edge and one similar with garnets; six domed discoid fittings for the scabbard guttering; a silver buckle with applied sheet-gold plate with inset garnets; two gilt triangular strap ends with loops. 33 1/4 in. (827 grams total, 84.5 cm long). Fine condition.

Acquired 1971-1972.
From the collection of the vendor's father.
Property of a London, UK, collector.
Accompanied by an archaeological report by Dr Raffaele D'Amato.
Accompanied by scholarly note TL05426 by Dr Ronald Bonewitz.
This lot has been checked against the Interpol Database of stolen works of art and is accompanied by AIAD certificate no.11179-187530.

Cf. various, I Goti (the Goths), Milano, 1994, item p.118, cat.II.11, no.II.I.R; Lebedinski, I., Armes et guerriers Barbares au temps des grandes invasions IVème au Vième siècle après J.C., Paris, 2001, p.116; Wieczorek, A., Périn, P. (ed.), Das Gold der Barbarenfürsten. Schätze aus Prunkgräbern des 5. Jahrhunderts n. Chr. zwischen Kaukasus und Gallien, Stuttgart, 2001, figs., p.100, 3.1.2, p.124,, p.165.

This sword belongs to a group of spathae of late Roman typology, spread among the Germanic and Nomad foederati, and garrison troops. These weapons, diffused from the 4th century A.D., descend from the Nomad swords with plated guards (classified as Nomadic-Asiatic by Menghin and Pontico-Caucasian by Lebedinsky) having a long and thin blade, usually of a lenticular or diamond section and a lozenge plaque strung in iron on the tang. The remains of the guttering of such swords have been rarely found, and very few scabbard fragments are preserved, all presenting a noteworthy variety of typology from region to region.