-- Gladius
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Time Period: 3rd century BC to 4th century AD
Location: Rome
Common Construction: Wood Hilt, Bone Grip, Iron Blade

The Gladius is the classic sword used by virtually every soldier in the Roman army for hundreds of years. Very early Roman soldiers fought much like the Greeks in a phalanx, and used the xiphos. The gladius was adopted either during the Punic Wars or during the conquest in Gaul, in the 4th century BC. Despite the common conception that the Romans conquered the world by stabbing everything that resisted, it is suitable for both cut and thrust .

The gladius was easier to make than other period swords such as the xiphos and the kopis. It is straight bladed and double edged with a diamond cross section. It was made of wrought iron or sometimes pattern welded, depending on the time period, location, and skill of the person making it. The hilt was typically made of hardwood with a bone grip, materials that are easy to acquire and inexpensive.

The gladius evolved over time to suit the needs of the empire. The stereotypical short sword is the Mainz Gladius which was used in the days of Julius Caesar and the conquest of Britain. This is arguably the golden age of the gladius, later examples seem to indicate that the properties of the gladius were less graceful and more utilitarian. The final incarnation of the sword, known as the Pompeii Gladius was shorter with a more angular point, and cheaper to manufacture on a grand scale.

The gladius only existed as long as Rome did, and its use diminished rapidly thereafter.

BCE 01st Century, BCE 02nd Century, BCE 03rd Century, CE 01st Century, CE 02nd Century, CE 03rd Century, CE 04th Century, Gladiator, History, Rome, Sword, Weapon

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