Friday, May 18, 2012

— with an ax!

The use of battleaxes is mostly attributed to the Scythians (Herodotus VII.64), although Persians may have used them as well. At Persepolis Darius the Great's weapon carrier is seen with an ornate axe or warhammer; other peoples are shown carrying axes as tribute.  The Greek transcription of the Scythian name is sagaris (pl. sagarides).

The sagaris could have an iron or bronze head.  It was small in profile and similar to a tomahawk, although the edge sometimes flared dramatically.  It typically had a long back spike.  An iron example may be seen here (item 5273 about three-fourths of the way down).  It is 7.25 inches (18.4cm) long and the spike is curled.  Other examples exist where the blade is double-edged or the back resembles a multi-pronged warhammer.  An unusual find, replicated here, has an extraordinarily broad blade and back spike shaped like a griffin head.  Judging by period art, the haft was slim, straight and about a foot and a half to two feet long (46-61cm).  It was probably worn with the haft tucked into the belt.

Sourcing:  Manning Imperial's medium and small Amazon axe heads are probably the best-looking available, but you have to make your own haft.  Pending documentation for its use in the Achaemenid period, the Luristan type is not acceptable.  A cheaper (albeit rather bulky) option, Cold Steel's "Spike Hawk," looks like it should be acceptable once the black coating is sanded off.

I don't know enough about the physics of stage combat with an axe to make any recommendations in that area.  Most sparring axes seem to be made of foam rubber or other bulky nonmetallic materials.  The few metal ones I've seen don't look right for our period either.

Next up:  Now we all have metal skin.

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