|THE ANCIENT GREEK HOPLITE
Some of you may have noticed a significant omission from the main page: SPEARS! The spear was the main weapon of the hoplite, made of ash and seven or eight feet long. The head was usually iron and was "leaf-shaped" and socketed. Now, there is precious little hard info in my sources about the size of the heads or the sockets, but from what I know of Roman spears and other cultures I'd guess that the shafts were thinner than most people think, maybe just an inch. At the bottom end was a bronze buttspike, square or triangular in section--I don't know exactly how big that was, either. The buttspike was probably meant mostly for sticking the spear upright in the ground when camping, though it was definitely used as a weapon if the head broke off--cuirasses and helmets have been found with square holes in them, demonstrating its lethality.
My spearhead is shown at right, about half actual size (11" long overall). It was hand-forged long ago by a fellow named Brock. (The 4 little circles are his maker's mark.)
Next in line is Tom Kolb's spearhead from Manning Imperial. Just under 10" long, and the socket is about 7/8" diameter. At 4-1/2 ounces, a VERY sweet little spearhead!
Third is my buttspike, copied from the one in the Osprey book The Spartan Army, also made by Manning Imperial. It is 14-1/2" long (about an inch of the socket didn't fit on the scanner!), and the socket is 1-1/8" in diameter. At first the spike was about 1-1/4" square and the whole thing weighed three pounds, which felt awful heavy, so I ground it down some. Now the spike is an inch square, and I trimmed down the ring and reamed out the socket, taking the weight down to 2 pounds. NICE work, though, solid cast bronze.
At far right is Jon Martin's buttspike by Manning, which inpired me and Tom Kolb to get ours from there. Jon's has a shorter socket and an inscription on the spike.
Mike Kasner has made buttspikes by soldering brass barstock to the narrow end of a brass firehose nozzle with the threaded end cut off (from a flea market), then grinding and cutting to shape. He has also made spearheads from old socketed chisels.
| The blade of the hoplite's
also described as "leaf-shaped", and was roughly two feet long.
I have not found enough information about its details, so I was forced
to make some educated guesses when building mine. I started with
an old wall-hanger "Prince Valiant" blade, 24" by 2" wide, and ground
into the shape of the Alfedena sword shown in Connolly (p. 103).
There are no cross-sections that I have seen, but Connolly's pictures
the blades seem to show two fullers and a midrib, so that's what I
into my blade (which started as a flattened diamond
The hilt seems to have been constructed similarly to a Roman dagger hilt, with the tang sandwiched between layers of wood, with thin metal plates on top. The metal covering of the pommel appears to be a separate piece, cylindrical or conical. It turned out to be a real beast to put together. On the grip I had to use pairs of small nails that straddled the narrow tang, whereas on the originals the tang seems to follow the outline of the guard and grip, so that only two nails would be placed on the center line. Connolly implies that the three hilts he shows all have iron plates, not bronze, but Dan Peterson says that some hilts were indeed solid bronze.
| Here is
George Marcinek's very nice sword and scabbard, made by Manning
| A third type of sword
falcata or kopis, a curved sword with the cutting edge along the inner
side. It was capable of devastating cuts. The one at right
is Jon Martin's old one--he replaced the solid brass hilt with a wooden
one shaped like a bird of prey, which he believes fits the evidence
The scabbard is wood with brass fittings, modeled from several
Below is Jon's new kopis, from Deepeeka (India).