RB1308

A Roman Iron Hammer Axe, ca. 1st century AD

Hand forged, with flaring blade that curves downward, expanding to the poll end which is flat and rectangular in form. The eye through which the axe would have originally been hafted is oval with small pointed lugs that flank the socket to increase the security of the handle, a feature favored by the Roman army in the first and second centuries but rare thereafter.  

Similar axe heads have been found at Combend, Gloucestershire, England and Neuss, Germany, illustrating the widespread use of axes across the Roman Empire. Axes were also highly symbolic throughout Rome’s history, particularly in the Roman Republic. As an emblem of authority and the power to administer punishment, Roman officials wore a so-called fasces which consisted of a bundle of rods bound together around an axe with the blade projecting.The same symbol is found today on the coat of arms for the Swedish police and military police, the emblems of which show a bundle of rods with a projecting axe-blade.

For a related example see:  British Museum, Iron Axe Head, ref: P&EE 1982 1-3 231, Room 49: Roman Britain.

Dimensions:Length 6.8 inches (17.2 centimeters)

Condition:  All surfaces of the axe show signs of extensive encrustation, but the axe is intact and complete.  Museum quality custom mount. 

Provenance:  Clarence Schroder private collection, acquired prior to 1970.




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