New “Roman” Sword Discovered

By Sebastian Heath

In ISAW Papers 9 (2015), "A New 'Roman' Sword from Soknopaiou Nesos (El-Fayyum, Egypt)," Paola Davoli and Christian Miks report on the discovery, conservation, and characteristics of a long and well preserved sword that was recorded in 2006 during the archaeological excavations carried out by the Soknopaiou Nesos Project (University of Salento, Lecce) in the temenos of the main temple in Soknopaiou Nesos, modern Dime. As discussed by the authors, the current state of research suggests classification as a Roman, or at least Roman influenced, weapon of the late Republican period. However, some peculiar elements of this sword seem to point to an oriental or Egyptian final assemblage. It thus may give a new impulse to the still open discussion about the appearance of Hellenistic swords starting from the period of Alexander's Successors. The weapon could have been used by soldiers of the late Ptolemaic period, as well as by members of the Roman army. The question whether the sword ended up in the temenos as part of local defensive arms or as a votive object will largely remain speculative, as its find context is not stratigraphically reliable.

ISAW Papers is an open-content digital journal that publishes article length works on any topic within the scope of ISAW's scholarly research. Nine articles have appeared to date and are available in partnership with the NYU Library, which provides permanent archiving of all content.