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Some Sarauter revisionism
#1
Friends,
I was in Greece the last three weeks and I visited the National Archaeological Museum four times, as well as the other standards--the Agora Museum, the Benaki, etc, etc.

I had the chance to visit the NAM with Giannis, and we noticed something that was new to us.

Sarauters are hollow in the Archaic and Classical period. They are hollow from the entry point of the shaft to within about 2 cm of the tip.

As far as I could tell,there are no exceptions, and now that I know what to look for, I can't find any sign of solid ones in Angriffswaffen from the Olympia series, either.

This matters, because if true, it means that the sarauter DOES NOT balance the weight of the shaft. Far from it--most of the ones I saw would weigh a little less than a mid-sized spear head in period, or a very little more than the smallest heads. And for those of you who don't have the Olympia books, I'll add that many of the side-wall appear to be thin sheet metal, and some sarauters are as small as the ferule on a walking stick.

In addition, there is almost NO solid part. Careful examination suggests that the shaft ran all the way through the hollow, or close to it, and that sarauters snapped where the shaft ended--which to me suggests that the shafts of these spears DID NOT break in battle, but perhaps the sarauters did. That's my guess based on the way they have sheered.

As a final note, thanks to Giannis, I now have a cornel-wood shaft which may be a walking stick in my final kit or may be a spear shaft. I have this to say about it, though. Cornel wood is thin the way the illustrations show shaft size. it has a NATURAL taper that is remarkable. It is also about the toughest stuff I've ever held. The man who made my stick (4'6" long) flexed it between his hands about 15 degrees and dared me to try to break it. I'm not weak. I couldn't break it.


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Qui plus fait, miex vault.
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#2
As he says! All sauroters hollow! The hollow continues in the same cylindrical shape as the upper part of the sauroter,ending for example with the corners being thicker than the sides.
About balancing,i guess the sauroter could counter weight the spearhead,even if it didn't bring the weight back. However,most probably most spears were a little tappered. After all,the sauroters are indeed a bit wider than most spearheads.
Christian,you bought a cornel wood stick,finally! How long is it? and how thick?
Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#3
Excellent stuff, thank you both! It shouldn't be much of a surprise, really, since bronze spearheads are the same way, hollow almost to the point. So casting a buttspike without a blade on it was that much simpler. Information like this is great, but it's also frustrating because all the great modern authors should have known this and said so decades ago! Of course, museums are partly to blame, since they rarely display broken pieces like those, and would never be caught dead actually giving out details like the weights... Glad to see we're finally catching up!

Of course, now I need to buy a couple huge long drill bits and try to drill out the inside of my 2-pound solid-cast lizard-smasher...

Khairete!

Matthew
Matthew Amt (Quintus)
Legio XX, USA
<a class="postlink" href="http://www.larp.com/legioxx/">http://www.larp.com/legioxx/
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#4
Quote:Sarauters are hollow in the Archaic and Classical period. They are hollow from the entry point of the shaft to within about 2 cm of the tip.

I don't mean to be a buzz-kill, but did anyone say they weren't? I'm at work, so I don't have Snodgrass with me, but the one paper I have that describes a Sauroter from lesbos shows that it was hollow where it joined the shaft- these fragments had no "collar" and were just the spike section. I am suprised that they are hollow to within 2 cm of the tip, though, I would have thought more like half the length was hollow. Though they were hollow, I still assumed that they served to counter the weight of the spear head, which was also hollow. Wouldn't it be nice to have weights?

You know there is another term for the sauroter, "styrex", which refers to a sappy wood. Perhaps this implies that they were filled with adhesive and the shaft inserted?

E-mail me for the paper. Great find in any case.
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#5
Well,most of them have a cylindrical or polygon part which some times is as long as the actual spike. This shape implies that the cylindrical part is there to support the shapft and that the spike is solid. Noone said it's like this.But who would expect the oposite! The spike in mentioned to had been used as a secondary head and the fact that it's hollow just reduces its endurance for that purpose.
I also wish we has weights,especially in comparison to the spearheads that are found together in each occasion.
Khaire
Giannis
Giannis K. Hoplite
a.k.a.:Giannis Kadoglou
a.k.a.:Thorax
[Image: -side-1.gif]
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#6
Quote: This shape implies that the cylindrical part is there to support the shapft and that the spike is solid. Noone said it's like this.But who would expect the oposite!

I agree completely that this is a natural assumption- I used to think so myself before reading about them being hollow and the "sockett" just a collar. What the collar adds is worth considering. I wish I had thought to post something on the topic before this. What you guys found is still very interesting because I would not have imagined that they were hollow almost all the way to the point! I wonder how this effects the strength of the sauroter as a putative weapon. Hollow tubes general tend to lose strength as the diameter expands. (this is why insects have hollow tubes for bones and you don't)

Any chance the void was filled with something that is now lost- like lead?
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#7
A quick count of the saurauters in my Angriffswaffen from Olympia shows approx. 34 of 55 bronze period saurauters appear to have been broken in antiquity. My criterion may be skewed, as I'm assuming (as a sometime archaeologist) that these aren't deformed in any other way except the stress fracture of breaking, and so were broken in period and not by, say, weather or oxidation.
If that's an accurate count, they broke pretty frequently.
Qui plus fait, miex vault.
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#8
Is there any reason to exclude the possibility that led was inserted in them - at leat partaily.
Do we have chemical analysis details ffor them?
I doubt if the have done it here so I might rest my hopes on a foreighn museum?
Kind regards
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#9
gentlemen, if they had lead in them, it would still be there. Occam's Razor says that if someone took the lead and melted it down--they'd have scrapped the bronze, too. Or their would be ONE lead lined one at Olympia. Not so.
Qui plus fait, miex vault.
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#10
Quote:gentlemen, if they had lead in them, it would still be there.

You are right if they poured in molten lead- I'd be amazed if it managed to work loose and slip out of all of them. I was thinking granular lead or even sand followed by resin to hold it all together. But then the sauroter itself may have been plently heavy enough for their tapered shafts- it only needed to balance a light point.

Is specimen 14821 in your second photo a putative dory head? Can you post a pic of it with the 3 sauroters for comparison?
Paul M. Bardunias
MODERATOR: [url:2dqwu8yc]http://www.romanarmytalk.com/rat/viewtopic.php?t=4100[/url]
A Spartan, being asked a question, answered "No." And when the questioner said, "You lie," the Spartan said, "You see, then, that it is stupid of you to ask questions to which you already know the answer!"
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#11
Kineas wrote:
Quote:In addition, there is almost NO solid part. Careful examination suggests that the shaft ran all the way through the hollow, or close to it, and that sarauters snapped where the shaft ended--which to me suggests that the shafts of these spears DID NOT break in battle, but perhaps the sarauters did. That's my guess based on the way they have sheered..........

A quick count of the saurauters in my Angriffswaffen from Olympia shows approx. 34 of 55 bronze period saurauters appear to have been broken in antiquity. My criterion may be skewed, as I'm assuming (as a sometime archaeologist) that these aren't deformed in any other way except the stress fracture of breaking, and so were broken in period and not by, say, weather or oxidation.
If that's an accurate count, they broke pretty frequently.
...a note of caution regarding breakages.Like most trophy weapons placed in temples, the sauroters will have been ritually destroyed ( c.f. helmets deliberately peeled back, broken sword blades etc) - which also conveniently makes them useless to to would-be thieves.

Also, whether sheet or cast, when filled with the wooden shaft, they would still be 'solid', and hence strong enough to be jammed into the ground ( c.f. conical sheet Roman and mediaeval spear-butts) or used as a weapon. It is interesting that the 'heavy counterweight' theory has received a blow already implied by the countless depictions of the Dory held at its mid-point.

Congratulations, Kineas and Giannis, on bringing more interesting details of significant equipment to light! Smile D However, I thought it was well known that sauroters were largely hollow, and that older ones were actually sheet bronze held on often with a bronze ring, and that later cast ones reflected this as a decorative feature....

I can also shed some light on how they were held on to the shaft....pitch.
Here is the commentary on a Macedonian sauroter from the time of Alexander ( incidently more evidence that some Macedonian troops were still Hoplites ....).
It is from 'The Greek Museum' at Newcastle-on-tyne U.K. now called the Shefton museum. I visited it in 1978. They don't have a great deal of arms armour but what they have is good....
Unfortunately, though you used to be able to see the items on-line ( complete with 1978 text! ) access is now restricted . Sekunda had a photo of this sauroter on p.28 of his "Army of Alexander the Great" (Osprey)
:evil: :evil:

"The Shefton Museum has one important and rare example of the weapons used by the GREEK hoplite, a spearbutt (length: 38 cms). The spearhead was by this date usually made of iron, but bronze, which does not rust, was used for the butt which would often be planted in the ground. It is a very heavy, cast piece even though it is hollow almost to the tip. It was clearly designed as a counterweight to the head. If the shaft broke in battle, the butt could, of course, also serve as a weapon.

The shape in fact reflects a very early method of manufacture when a thick bronze ring near the centre was needed to secure the split butt sleeve, on to the wooden shaft. Inside this example there are traces of the pitch used to fix the shaft. During the cleaning in 1977 the black lettering at the top was discovered under the layers of corrosion. Between two narrow bands are the letters M A K, which must surely be an abbreviated form of the word "MAC(EDONIAN)". From the style of these letters a date in the later 4th century B.C. has been suggested for the whole piece, which is in line with the general shape of the butt. "
"dulce et decorum est pro patria mori " - Horace, ODES
(It is a sweet and proper thing to die for ones country)

"No son-of-a-bitch ever won a war by dying for his country. He won it by making the other poor dumb bastard die for his country" -GeorgeC Scott as General George S. Patton
Paullus Scipio/Paul McDonnell-Staff
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#12
Paullus Scipio wrote:
Quote: Here is the commentary on a Macedonian sauroter from the time of Alexander ( incidently more evidence that some Macedonian troops were still Hoplites ....).
It is from 'The Greek Museum' at Newcastle-on-tyne U.K. now called the Shefton museum. I visited it in 1978. They don't have a great deal of arms armour but what they have is good....
Unfortunately, though you used to be able to see the items on-line ( complete with 1978 text! ) access is now restricted . Sekunda had a photo of this sauroter on p.28 of his "Army of Alexander the Great" (Osprey)

Actually there is no way to tell if this sauroter is from hoplite spear or sarisa. It is quite long, and if you check in Angriffswaffen aus Olympia you will find only three similar, all of them much shorter than Newcastle example.
Among sauroters in National Archaeological Museum in Athens you will find one with lead(?) ball on socket. It is standard shape beside this, so it seems they were weighted after all.
Maciej Pomianowski
known also as \'ETAIROS
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#13
Team,
I am pretty sure that Angriffswaffen aus Olympia gives the weights of the sauroters as well.

With regard to the point of balance aren't there a stack of bronze rings also in Angriffswaffen aus Olympia that are crimped on to the sauroter. This would accomodate precision weighting by an individual for each spear. My notes refer to 4 iron sauroters with the rings in situ and a bundle of individual bronze rings (table 79 figures a and b.) but I don't have a copy at hand to refer to. Or perhaps these are the rings Paul is referring to?
Peter Raftos
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#14
Peter--don't you think it's a little more likely that those are bronze rings left in situ when the iron rusted away? That seems to match the evidence better.

Smile
Qui plus fait, miex vault.
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#15
Excellent point. Now we know they are vitually hollow and therefore use less bronze it may be cheaper to produce them with lost wax casting.
Peter Raftos
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