Reliefs / Sculptures with Swords and Daggers


First Iron Swords

General Remarks and Assyrian Stuff

Does artwork from the time in question (say 1200 BC - 700 BC) shows people wearing the kind of sword we are interested in? That is the questions, indeed. Major sources of relevant art are from Neo Assyrian palaces in, for example in Ninivah or Khorsabad. That dates them to around 700 BC, give or take 50 years. The Achaemenid Empire, ca. 550 BC – 330 BC, the first Persian empire founded by Cyrus the Great, also provides for many reliefs mostly from Persepolis. Than we have Hittite places and some others. Read up on these empires here.
The Assyrian reliefs are at least 100 years too young to provide for pictures of the swords we are after here. The Persepolios ones are even younger. Nevertheless, these artworks are of some interest.
Here are a few reliefs I have already used elsewhere in this Hyperscript. Use the links for a detailed description
When I started this module I hoped to find a lot more and better pictures. Well - there is still hope. But so far not much has come up, sorry.
Sord bearers; Assyrian
Assyrian princes with swords
Khorsabad Palace; Reign of Sargon II,
721 - 705 BC
Assyrian Noble with his sword
Source: Khorsabad (I believe)
Large-size picture of similar guys  
Swords bearers, sculptures
Sargon II
Found in the morth palace inNinivah;
from 645 BC
Assyrian king Ashurnasirpal II
(ca. 883-859 B.C.)
Now let's look at what I found in the meantime. First a few more Assyrians:
Assyrian relief; sword
Assyrain relief; sword
Alabaster bas-relief depicting Shalmaneser III, Ashurnasirpal II’s son, attacking a city. Neo-Assyrian Period, 865-860 BCE. Detail of Panel 4 (bottom), Room B, the North-Palace Palace, Nimrud, modern-day Iraq. (The British Museum, London
Assyrian reliefs; sword
Two depictions of Ashur-nasir-pal II;
King of Assyria from 883 to 859 BC
Source: Wikipedia and Metmuseum
Assyrian reliefs; sword
Sennacherib; From the ruins of Nimroud
Wood cut after the relief
Source: ? (Internet)
Assyrian relief; sword
Assyrian King Sennacherib (704 - 681 BC) From Ninivehg
Source: Internet
All reliefs except for the last one show long slender straight and possibly double-edged swords, very likely made from iron / steel.. The sheath has a chape characteristic for cavalry and the hilt typically consists of a sequence of rings and spheres. The only exception here is the hilt of the sword in the woodcut picture two up.
  In essence., two statements can be made:
  1. No halfway well preserved sword has been found so far that resembles the ones in these art pieces. The best one could come up with are some (heavily corroded) finds from Hasanlu.
  2. Assyrian reliefs (including the ones not shown here) never show somebody wearing a sword that resembles one of the "Leitfossillien" swords we are after.

Hittite and Neo-Hittite Art

There isn't all that much, it appears. In fact, there seems to be nothing at all from the Hittite empire proper, that collapsed in the dark years around 1200 BC. What we have is some stuff from Neo-Hititte kingdoms, sort of smaller and less powerful survivor states somewhere in today Turkey
Hittite relief; sword
Basalt relief from the citadel walls of Sam'al, Turkey, 10th-8th C. BC.
Hittite God of War with a spear, sword, and shield.
Source: Pergamon Museum, Berlin, Wikimedia Commons
Unfortunately we do not see much of the sword. But it could be what I have called a Luristan type II variety.
Here is another Neo-Hittite (or Luwian, if you like) warrior / God / King with a well visible short sword or dagger. He also wears a mace and a goat.
Hittite relief; sword
Karatepe-Aslantas; Guy with sword
Source: Photographed by me, 2013
  Kara tepe It became an important Neo-Hittite center after the collapse of the Hittite Empire in the late 12th century around the end of the 8th - 7th century BC. The site's eighth-century BC bilingual inscription reflects the activities of the kings of Adana from the "house of Mopsos", it is given in Hieroglyphic Luwian.
Interesting - but the sword above is not of the type we are looking for.

Luristan and Others

There are innumerable Luristan bronzes around - but only one shows somebody with a sword. This rare exception lives in the Teheran Museum of Archaeology
´´Broinze sculpture Luristan sword
A bronze human figure with inscription in Babylonian cuneiform script
from the 1st millennium BC
Source: EL Zorro Blog: A Journey in Time .1st stop Tehran: 6 Bronzeware of the Museum of Archaelogical Iran
  The museum doesn't seem to offer much informations but we have Angelika Berlejung's book: "Divine Secrets and Human Imaginations: Studies on the History of Religion" and from that wee learn:
Tough luck! The inscription is not helpful, the origin and the date of the statue is not too clear. Thee sword, however, might be a proper if short Luristan type II sword.
Finally the golden bowl of Hasanlu It was discovered by Robert H. Dyson in 1957. The bowl is estimated to be around 3200 years or older. It shows a collecetiojns of three (bronze) daggers that look rather familiar:
Hasanlu gold bowl daggers
Hasanlu gold bowl daggers
Golden bowl of Hasanlu
Source: Internet and Expedition Magazine - Penn Museum.
  Nice but not helpful.

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go to Large Pictures - Chapter 11.1

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© H. Föll (Iron, Steel and Swords script)