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Spatha
Time Period: 1st-9th century
Location: Rome
Common Construction: Iron

The spatha is essentially a longer version of the gladius, used by both Roman heavy infantry and cavalry. Its origins are debatable; it is either a Roman weapon designed as a result of contact with Germanic tribes (and their swords) or an extension of the gladius due to improved metalworking technology. Either way it was used by Rome beginning in the 1st century and until the ultimate decline of the empire itself.

Although the technology to create these swords disappeared for a time during the Dark Ages, existing spathas were used by European cultures into the 9th century. The final death knell for the spatha came from the Franks. Their method of sword construction in the late 8th century changed from a blade of consistent width ending abruptly at a point to a sword in which the entire length of the blade tapers to a point. This shifted the center of balance of the sword towards the hand, allowing more control than previously capable with the spatha. This new sword would replace both the spatha and the langseax, and in a way the spatha could be considered the father of the long sword.

History, Rome, Sword, Weapon


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