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How Ancient Europeans Saw the WorldVision, Patterns, and the Shaping of the Mind in Prehistoric Times$
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Peter S. Wells

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780691143385

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691143385.001.0001

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Status and Violence

Status and Violence

Swords and Scabbards

(p.112) Chapter 7 Status and Violence
How Ancient Europeans Saw the World

Peter S. Wells

Princeton University Press

This chapter focuses on sword and scabbards. Swords were important visual objects, larger than most other objects in Bronze and Iron Age Europe, and their shape made them visually striking. Two parts of the sword were especially important in this regard. In the Late Bronze Age and Early Iron Age, the hilt and pommel were often the vehicles for elaborate eye-catching ornament. When a sword was in its scabbard, whether worn at the side of the bearer, hanging on a wall, or placed in the burial chamber, the only parts of the weapon that were visible were the handle and its end. During the Middle and Late Iron Age, the scabbard became especially important as a vehicle for decorative elaboration. Bronze and Early Iron Age scabbards were mostly made of wood, and we do not, therefore have much information about how they were decorated. From the end of the Early La Tène period on, however, swords were long, and scabbards of bronze and iron offered extensive rectangular surfaces for decoration.

Keywords:   artifacts, late prehistoric Europe, Bronze Age, Iron Age, sword, scabbard

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