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Robin Smith




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Oct, 2012 12:23 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

J.D. Crawford wrote:
Good show, but I was confused about why they seemed fixed on Ulfberhts originating in Scandanavia. At one point it was acknowledged that Ulfbehrt is a Frankish name, but this was explained away as Vikings wanting to sound Frankish.

Perhaps the producers adopted this angle so they could refer to Ulfbehrts as Viking swords and keep things simple for TV?

Is there any more to this?
This is what I am talking about. I have serious reservations about the conclusions being made. AFAIK, the primary evidence for a Scandanavian origin of ULFBERHTs is that is where most are found, but that could be more to do with burial practices. The assumption seems to be made, that since the H+T Ulfberhts are the highest quality, that they must be the originals, and the other variants are copies. But as I pointed out, Anne Stalsberg's work seems to show this to be untrue.

Again, I suggest reading the two articles I mentioned in my above post when you have the time. Stalsberg's work deals alot with which variants appeared when and where, and the other article points to flaws in Alan Williams conclusions.

A furore Normannorum libera nos, Domine
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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Thu 11 Oct, 2012 1:53 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Robin

Good points!

Ran Pleasant
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Peter Johnsson




PostPosted: Fri 12 Oct, 2012 12:15 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I really deplore the fact I have not been able to see the show. Really looking forward to it.
I was a little bit involved in the preparations for the of this program in its earlier stages.

The idea that these swords originate in Scandinavia is strange. I think it was something that Williams suggested early on in this work, but I believe he has abandoned that idea.
It is actually something I discussed with the producers during some of the many long phone calls; that there is no real good reason to think these swords were made in scandinavia.

Not only is the name Frankish, it is also written with latin letters. I do not think there are any finds of scandinavian use of latin letters from this time period.

Ulfbehrt might be more than a personal name. It can possibly allude to something else.
Ulf is a germanic word for "wolf". The bloom you get from a blast furnace is sometimes called Lupe. This might be from the latin word for wolf, Lupus.
Behrt is a germanic word for bright.

So the word Ulf-Behrt might mean "Bright Wolf".
This is a great name for a sword, but might also allude to the special quality of the steel it is made from.

Achim Wirtz, (a great knife maker and magician in steel making) told me about the possible meaning of the word Ulfbehrt. I found it to be a fascinating possibility.

Now I can only wait impatiently for an opportunity to see Ric and Kevin in action!
-I guess I´ll have to buy the DVD.

Robin Smith wrote:
J.D. Crawford wrote:
Good show, but I was confused about why they seemed fixed on Ulfberhts originating in Scandanavia. At one point it was acknowledged that Ulfbehrt is a Frankish name, but this was explained away as Vikings wanting to sound Frankish.

Perhaps the producers adopted this angle so they could refer to Ulfbehrts as Viking swords and keep things simple for TV?

Is there any more to this?
This is what I am talking about. I have serious reservations about the conclusions being made. AFAIK, the primary evidence for a Scandanavian origin of ULFBERHTs is that is where most are found, but that could be more to do with burial practices. The assumption seems to be made, that since the H+T Ulfberhts are the highest quality, that they must be the originals, and the other variants are copies. But as I pointed out, Anne Stalsberg's work seems to show this to be untrue.

Again, I suggest reading the two articles I mentioned in my above post when you have the time. Stalsberg's work deals alot with which variants appeared when and where, and the other article points to flaws in Alan Williams conclusions.
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Alex K




PostPosted: Fri 12 Oct, 2012 3:48 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Here's a site with download links for the show, for anyone who wants to watch it:

http://www.rlsbb.com/nova-s40e01-secrets-of-t...-x264-qcf/
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Oct, 2012 7:13 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I thought parts of it were interesting (particularly the metalurgy, some of the images of the iron crystalization and so forth) but overall I was a little disappointed.

You can watch it on the PBS site, incidentaly, you just have to sit through a couple of commercials.

J

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Daniel Wallace




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Oct, 2012 9:32 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

after my post yesterday - i did realize the same thing that peter has pointed out here, why is a blade with latin letters attributed to a norse culture? secondly, crosses?

we had a post a few months back about the symbol of the cross and its lack of being seen on swords. for what the program attributed the crosses on the sword to i can see as plausible - but not too probable. monasteries were the center of knowledge especialy during the Carolingian renaissance which i believe falls within the time depicted in the show. so maybe monasteries did research into metallurgy and came up with something unique?

the crosses on the blade are correct for the period - but the pre-crusade era of europe the cross is not a very big symbol. the lamb, PX, or the fish symbol (made by the drawing of two circles) was a much more common symbol to see. or at least all my first crusade research points this theory out. so if these are indeed christian crosses, its very odd to see them so early.
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Jean Henri Chandler




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Oct, 2012 12:50 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The composition doesn't seem so mysterious to me, since it is just another of many examples throughout the world of people making blades out of imported wootz steel billets, which they also did in the Middle East, Central Asia, Persia, and even in Japan. Those wootz billets were a major export product from the areas in Sri Lanka and Northern India where they were produced.

The link to the Vikings in the show seems (by implication) to be their trading network, but we know the Franks were trading with the Silk Road and beyond as well (in some cases through the VIkings) . There is a Moorish travelers account of Mainz from 965 AD (recounted in the Book of Roads and Kingdoms of Al Bakri, and reprinted in this book) in which he mentions that Mainz has cloves and ginger and other spices in abundance which derive from the Indies, as well as Persian coins. The Arabs were also importing Frankish blades by that point.

I suspect both the Franks and the Norse made weapons from wootz billets but the Franks seemed to have more developed iron working industries. The association with monasteries and Abbeys may be due to the Benedictine, and then (by the 12th Century) Cistercian monks who were spreading the windmill and (especially) the overshot water wheel to Abbeys and Cathedrals all over Europe from the Carolingian era (by 1086 AD there were apparently over 6,000 water mills in England alone). These in turn powered automated bellows and (eventually) triphammers and other machines which aided in the processing of iron which made a lot of ecclesiastical centers into industrial zones and contributed to the increasing ubiquity and quality of iron weapons and armor in the Frankish Kingdoms and their successors.

J

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Tom King




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PostPosted: Fri 12 Oct, 2012 11:16 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I find it funny that a program about the most technologically advanced weapon in dark ages Europe acts so surprised the Scandinavian "barbarians" were so much more advanced than their christly counterparts. As far as their definition of Damascus, I'll leave that to any metallurgists in the forum.

I'm surprised that the program never mentioned pattern welded swords with decent quality steel edges, which seem to be more common than the small number of real +Ulfber+t swords in grave finds. The programs explanation of the number of bent swords seems to be mostly made up mysticism, since most of the ritually bent swords have been found in lakes and have usually been explained as sacrifices to the gods in thanks (and to ensure future) spoils, although i doubt a ulfbert or pattern welded sword would be in that sacrificial category unless every man in the raiding party already had 2 at home.
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Sean Manning




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PostPosted: Mon 15 Oct, 2012 10:14 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I am getting "We are sorry, this show is not available" from my Canadian internet connection. That is a shame, since it sounds like a good documentary! A show with one dubious 'expert' and a questionable conclusion is still better than average.
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Randall Pleasant




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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2012 7:51 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Manning wrote:
I am getting "We are sorry, this show is not available" from my Canadian internet connection. That is a shame, since it sounds like a good documentary! A show with one dubious 'expert' and a questionable conclusion is still better than average.


I understand that the conclusions were questionable since there is significant data that suggest different interpretations about the origin of the swords shown in the show. However, all of the experts in the show are well known and beyond being called "dubious".

Ran Pleasant
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Roger Hooper




PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2012 9:11 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

There is an article about Ulfberht swords in the 1999 Park Lane Arms Fair Catalogue by Michael Gorman, ULFBERHT: Innovation and Imitation in Early Medieval Swords. It focuses on the inlays rather than metallurgy. His tentative conclusion: that most were made in the Solingen area.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2012 11:46 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The average viewer will come away with the following information:

• Historical swords are, or can be, extremely complex in design and manufacture, and we don't know everything about these weapons that their makers knew.

• The study of swords is a serious academic specialty.

• Arms and armour developed in conflict with each other, and fighting techniques adjusted to new technologies.

• A master smith is smart, well-informed, technically expert, adventurous and extremely hard-working.

In the absence of a major misstep, any single one of those would make for a valuable program. To have them all in a single program is exceptional.

Hooray for PBS!

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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B. Stark




PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2012 5:11 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I stumbled upon the airing purely by accident. I think Sean has it correct it helping do away with the more popular notions of swords and viking swords in particular, being very heavy, easily made and unsophisticated weapons that required no finesse in their creation or their use. I witnessed no major claims of absurdity at all.
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David Wilson




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PostPosted: Tue 16 Oct, 2012 5:56 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I agree with Sean's evaluation. Overall, I was pleased with the effort, and am glad that a "mainstream" source is helping to address some of the long-held myths about swords.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Oct, 2012 7:18 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Up next: The History Channel presents Ancient Alien Sex Swords of Hitler's Henchmen. HD.
-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Daniel Wallace




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Oct, 2012 8:33 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Up next: The History Channel presents Ancient Alien Sex Swords of Hitler's Henchmen. HD.



Worried OMG are you serious?!


i really liked how involved the show was about how complex the sword really is, and that its a science in itself to balance so many factors in the creation of a blade to function properly. not just alloy content, but geometry, its also truly amazing to see the process of a blade made for - as he said - dirt.
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Sean Flynt
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PostPosted: Wed 17 Oct, 2012 8:41 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Daniel Wallace wrote:
Sean Flynt wrote:
Up next: The History Channel presents Ancient Alien Sex Swords of Hitler's Henchmen. HD.



Worried OMG are you serious?!


No, but neither is the History Channel. The point is that the bar for these programs is very, very low, and the hooey factor is very, very high. NOVA's simple act of acknowledging the unknown is miles beyond the typical program, even if they did push the "mystery" line a bit too far for my taste, as if if they were setting up a conclusion that space aliens delivered the steel. They swerved at the last moment, though, and pitched to an outstanding and articulate smith, so I can forgive the mild carnival barking. Big Grin

-Sean

"Everywhere I have searched for peace and nowhere found it, except in a corner with a book"- Thomas a Kempis (d. 1471)
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Matthew G.M. Korenkiewicz




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PostPosted: Wed 17 Oct, 2012 2:17 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

Sean Flynt wrote:
Up next: The History Channel presents Ancient Alien Sex Swords of Hitler's Henchmen. HD.


... my dad fought in WW II and he brought back one of those swords. I don't know what happened to
it ... though, when I was a boy, I DO remember a very odd night full of weird sounds and lights, the
house shaking. Dad said it was the sump pump ... hmmm ....
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Doug Lester




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PostPosted: Sun 21 Oct, 2012 10:17 am    Post subject:         Reply with quote

I think that the show pointed out the quandary about the history of the swords. They inlaid with a Frankish name and Christian symbols, used by Norse warriors and produced with a steel type that was not known to be produced in Europe for centuries after the swords were produce. Not only that, if they were produced by the Franks, there were laws against selling them outside the kingdom. My hypothesis is that the Norse merchants imported the steel into Europe and traded the raw steel for finished blades. Frequently, even today, greed and practicality trumps the law. If the Frankish swordsmiths wanted the hard slag free steel to make swords with they had to trade some of these blades despite what the law said.

As far as the completeness of the presentation went, they only had a one hour format to present the topic and only so much time to produce the program. There was undoubtedly plenty of material that was left on the digital equivalent of the cutting room floor.
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Eyal Azerad




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PostPosted: Mon 22 Oct, 2012 4:34 pm    Post subject:         Reply with quote

The video can actually be order on Nova's site

http://www.shoppbs.org/product/index.jsp?productId=15301706

I watched the documentary on the weekend. Very interesting ! This is one of the best I've seen on the subject. Well worth the price.

Eyal Azerad
Darksword Armory Inc.
www.darksword-armory.com
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