Mainz Gladius

The Mainz Gladius was used from the late first century BC until as late as the 4th century, serving alongside the more abundant Pompeii gladius. A well known variant of the Mainz is known as the Fulham. The standard Mainz was named after the settlement of Mainz Germany which was the Roman permanent camp of Moguntiacum. The Fulham was named after the area near the Thames where the first of it's type was found. 

The Fulham is thought by some to be the transition between the wasp-waisted Mainz and the straight sided Pompeii. Other people believe it is just a variation in style only and not a real transition. This belief is partly because the Mainz, Fulham and Pompeii served alongside each other for many years and there have only been a handful of the Fulham style found. All three were short swords  and were adopted to suit the close fighting tactics used by the Roman Legions. 

The blade of the Mainz was wasp waisted or leaf shaped usually with a long straight point. The Mainz was generally about 16-22 inches (405-559 mm) With a base up to 3 inches (76 mm) wideThe sword was partly styled from the Iberian Celtic blade known as the Gladius Hispansiensis though the Mainz was uniquely Roman. The Celtic blade was somewhat longer than the Mainz at 600-680mm and narrower at 50mm. It's leaf shape was also more pronounced than the Mainz. The Hispansiensis or variations of it were used by the Romans from about 216 BC to 20 AD. The Mainz took its place in close combat.

The Sword of Tiberius is a famous and very well preserved specimen with the Mainz pattern. The drawing below will provide reasonable reproduction dimensions for this blade. Further information and images may be obtained from the British Museum official website. The scabbard is nicely decorated and covered in bronze that is tinned and gilded. It is believed to have been gifted to a high ranking officer and shows Tiberius symbolically  presenting his victories to the Emperor Augustus.


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Jim Bertagnolli,
Aug 21, 2014, 2:03 PM
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Jim Bertagnolli,
Feb 17, 2015, 12:35 PM
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