Efficacy in Warfare

Falcata ibérica Pulse para ampliar Falcata ibérica (Sala 11, vitrina 11.5)

Iberian Falcata

“To create, one must first question everything ” Eileen Gray

This falcata from Almedinilla (Córdoba) is a double-edged iron sword dated to between the fourth and third centuries BC, a typical weapon of the Iberian people. It was made by welding three strips of metal together. The middle strip is longer and serves as the metal core of the hilt, usually shaped like a guardian animal. Until the Late Bronze Age, swords were only used for thrusting, but thanks to its sharp-edged blade the falcata could also slash and cut. It has ornamental damascening on the hilt and at the end of the blade. This decorative technique involves inlaying a thin band of precious metal—silver, in this case—hammered into a less valuable metal surface, like the iron on this sword. In addition to being a complex, practical weapon, the falcata also had symbolic value: it indicated the wealth and social status of its bearer, as other objects do today.

A closer examination of the details of this object reveals that it is a product of careful thought and experience. A complete design process preceded and defined its materialisation, suited to the needs of the warrior who wielded it. The details are consistent, leaving nothing to chance in the effort to make it as effective a weapon as possible—for in order to create, one must first question everything. The result is a robust design that serves its intended purpose: warfare. The curved, asymmetrical shape distributes the weight to increase the momentum of the warrior’s movements, and the blade/tang joint, traditionally a weak point, is reinforced; the double-edged blade makes it versatile; and the fullers along the blade, in addition to adding aesthetic value, made it lighter without sacrificing strength. The modern weapons that most closely resemble the sharp double-edged falcatas are probably large military combat knives designed specifically for war and survival.