The Metal War-Flails of the Ancient Rus Time (Based on Materials of the National Museum of History of Ukraine)

Keywords: war-flails, mediaeval crushing weapon, Ancient Rus weapon.

Abstract

The first metal war-flails had appeared in Ancient Rus since the end of 11th c., although most of the finds of war weights are recorded in 12th — first half of 13th c., when the development of production of these weapons had begun. The war-flail as a type of auxiliary weapons has proven itself in military conflicts in the region of Southern Rus and occupied a special place in the armament complex of the warrior of that time.

The paper deals with the comparison of different typological schemes of the war-flails. Their division into groups according to the material of manufacture, types by morphological weight shape, subtypes by section and variants by decoration was justified. As a result, five types of war-flails were identified. The round (type 1) and pear-shaped (type 2) items have four (round, oval, flattened, faceted) and five (round, oval, flattened, faceted and flattened with ledges) subtypes and decorated with three variants of ornamentations (without decor, covered with semi-pearl tabs and pseudo-grain, covered with niello). The biconical (type 3) and cubic (type 4) weights are ornamented with one option only. The star-shaped (type 5) war-flails stand separately by virtue of their similarity to maces.

The iron items could be both stacked and solid casted. Finds of non-ferrous metal were represented by solid casted products only. The decor of casted war-flails was laid during the wax model formation. Additionally, while manufacturing the iron examples the inlay was used. Then the products were coated with niello and burned.

Actually, the maps and the catalogue of Ancient Rus metal war-flails according to the new research have been compiled. Due to the geography of finds the production center of finds was concentrated in Kyiv (Kyiv, Kniazha hora) and Principality of Galicia–Volhynia (Raiky, Shepetivka) lands. Almost all types and variants of ornamentation are presented in these regions. Probably, this manufacturing could be in Novgorod.

The National Museum of History of Ukraine has one of the most famous and largest collections of metallic war-flails, which count in total 48 items. Some materials that have not been previously published are taken into scientific circulation for the first time.

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2019-12-26
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