Late Gladius/ Spatha Chape

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Roman gladius or spatha chape 3rd century

Material  Bronze/ Copper Alloy
Dimensions  5.8cm long x 5.4cm wide

1.15 cm wide at top to 0.77cm at tip

Roman Empire  3rd Century AD

Rounded Sword Chape for the Longer Spatha or shorter semi-spatha short sword. The end attachment clamping the wooden pieces of the scabbard together at the point of the scabbard. Two decorative opening are present on one side while the back has a border running around it with a line down the center. Well preserved item.

In the 3rd Century the Gladius was phased out and a long wider Spatha was introduced to to the Roman army. Along with this came a difference in how the sword was worn on the belt(now attached through a belt over the shoulder called a baldric). A variety of chapes were around during this period, the only consistent thread was that the pointed type was no longer around. Some were rounder and larger than this example and others were rectangular. (1)

-painting by M. Daniels


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Reverse View

Photo of identical example in the Roman section at the British Museum, London July 2005


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(1) References to similar items: CONNOLLY, Peter; Greece and Rome at War, page 261 1998.

**Note on background. Close up view of the wall of the Colosseum of Pula, Croatia. Picture taken 2014