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Forging Mainz Gladius
#1
I have a request from a friend for several Mainz pattern gladii.

I'm a smith in N. Central Illinois, USA, and my personal interest is more in historical methods: my friend wants the gladius, I want to figure out how it was done.

I have, of course, been doing some digging and research and experiencing the frustrations of the few photographs of surviving samples and the like. (Why do they all insist on only photographing the *flat* of the blade?)

My goals are twofold: 1) come up with a reasonable idea of "authentic technique" and 2) reach a point where when another friend runs his bloom smelter I might go from bloom to blade. (Yes, I'm after "braggin' rights".)

What's holding me up at present is some confusion over cross section and longitudinal taper of the blade. From the  flats I can't tell what the cross section should be or if the blade tapers over the full length or just in the last few inches to the point. The two things, together, determine a great deal as to how hammers were plied and how I will. 

I note that there is one secondary source which I'm trying to track which indicates a lenticular cross-section. I note further that all the reproductions I have seen have a diamond cross section and seem to taper only in the last 4 inches or so to the point.

I would rather not accept what others have done without some connection to a primary or very reliable secondary source.

Any help would be greatly appreciated.
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#2
I had answered you in another post before seeing this one. I don't think there's any one specific measurement for tapers etc. Often the original blades were a result of individual craftsmen so there is a huge range of measurements between specific finds, 

What most people do is develop a design based on averages and what would be typical of the period and styles. Swords were both general designs and personal individuality. You pick something that works for what you want to do and stick to generally accepted norms for the period. 

Look over my drawings and they should give you some ideas at least.

My site

The overall Mainz design is typical of the Tiberius. I have other Mainz designs on the site as well. There are no two identical swords that have ever been found. Tapers vary greatly and are often dependent on the quality of the steel. With better quality steel a taper can drop down to 3mm or less near the tip. Blades with more iron etc. tend to be thicker because of the tendency to break.

Try not to worry with too many specifics and pick a good general shape that suits you (unless you intend on making an specific replica). With modern steels a distal taper will really lighten the sword and bring the balance nearer the grip. Almost all Roman swords during the Mainz and Pompeii periods were diamond cross section. Lenticular became more common with the spatha in later centuries. If you make a Mainz or Popeii blade it should never be lenticular.

Jim
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