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Spathion.Reconstruction of the sword from the fortress of Pernik (West Bulgaria) dated 12th century.2 Type R1b, Xа with a very popular in Europe brazil nut pommel. Type R1b itself originates probably from the eastern  Mediterranean or the Byzantine Empire.

Hand-forged, hardened and ground. Cladding of the hilt made of black oak wrapped with raw deep leather.

The sword was discovered during archaeological works in 1973 in building No. 54 (in the same building a silver cross, conical metal helmet, ceramics and tools were found as well). It is now a part of the permanent exhibition in the Pernik Museum, inventory No. 3693. In the current state total length of the sword is 1008 mm, fuller length is 762 mm and its width is 7 mm (due to corrosion ca. 14-15 mm), cross-guard length is 182.6 mm, the current edge length 876 mm, while previously ca. 885 mm (with point reconstruction ca. 905 mm), hilt 79.25 mm, pommel height ca. 40 mm (?), blade width at the cross-guard ca. 50.98 mm originally 55 mm?). Total weight: 1186 g.3

This sword was probably used between 1100 and 1189 A.D. (the end date is the destruction and burning of the city by Stefan Nemanja). The sword is probably a part of a great war loot after defeating the Sicilian Normans in the autumn 1185 A.D. or is a remnant of the mercenary troops.

The fortress of Pernik was an important military centre of the Byzantine Empire at the end of the 12th century. The weapon that was found there is a proof of the heterogeneous character of the arms of the Komnenos dynasty.







Reconstruction photo.






Photo of the finding.

I. Frescoes on the south wall of the church of St. Nicholas tou Kasnitzi church in Kastoria, 3 quarter of the 12th century: St. Demetrios, St. George, St. Nestor
II. Codex Vatopedinus 602, folio 421v, end of 12th century, Monastery of Vatopedi, Mount Athos



Wooden scabbard with trimming made of vegetable tanned and naturally dyed leather, iron ferrules forged by hand.  Scabbard chape  based on iconography (C,D). Sword belt made of vegetable tanned cow leather, rubbed with linseed oil.





I.  Church of Panagia Kosmosoteira at Feres (Our Lady, Saviour of the World), founded 1152 AD.

II. St. Demetrios, fresco in the western arm of the katholicon of the Monastery of St. Panteleimon in Nerezi,1164 A.D.

III.  Saint Neophytos Monastery, Cyprus, 1196 A.D. (C)

IV. Mosaic on the south wall of the choir of Cathedral, Cefalù, Sicily, 1145-60 A.D. (D)






1  T. Dawson, Byzantine Infantryman, Eastern Roman Empire c.900-1204, Oxford 2007, p. 27.

Marko Aleksić, MEDIAEVAL SWORDS FROM SOUTHEASTERN EUROPE Material from 12th to 15th Century, Belgrade 2007, p. 96, 162.



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