Vestnik arheologii, antropologii i etnofrafii   1 (52)  2021



Joint finds of knives and swords in burial complexes of the early nomads in the Southern Urals 

Vildanova E.V. (Orenburg, Russian Federation)


             page 3341


The paper considers iron knives which have been found together with swords or daggers in burials of the early nomads of the Southern Urals. The aim of this work was to collect information about joint findings of edged weapons and knives and to determine the functional purpose of such bladed sets. This research uses data on seven joint finds of a sword/dagger and a knife in the early nomadic burials of the Southern Urals, originating from six burial grounds. The paper also addresses the issue of origins of this tradition. The functional affiliation of the object as a weapon has been determined by the localization of the knife directly on the sword or dagger in the military burial. Knives which have been found together with a dagger or a sword could represent elements of military weapons of the early nomads of the Southern Urals. Most likely, the sword scabbards had an additional pocket for knife on the frontal side. This explains the location of the knifes directly along the axis of the sword blade. Such knives probably were used as auxiliary weapons and only in a close combat. If knives are considered as a category of military auxiliary weapons, then their disappearance could be related to some kind of military reform, expressed in appearance of heavy armed cavalry, distribution of spears, standardization of swords, daggers and arrowheads. The time of existence of such edged sets fits into the middle/second half of the 5th turn of the 4th/3rd c. BC. A limited number of finds in the early nomadic complexes in the Southern Urals indicates a rather rare use of this weaponry element. The tradition of such edged kits possibly dates back to the nomadic cultures of Central Asia. The edged sets of a dagger and a knife have been found in tombs of the late stage of the Uyuk (Saghlyk) Culture (5th3rd c. BC). The placement of a knife on the waist of the deceased (sometimes in the same scabbard together with dagger) during the Early Scythian and later periods suggests the conceptualization of knife as a weapon.

Key words: early nomads of the South Urals, knives, blade weapons, bladed sets, auxiliary weapons, chronology.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.

Accepted: 07.12.2020

Article is published: 26.02.2021


Vildanova E.V.

Orenburg State Pedagogical University, Sovetskaya st., 19, Orenburg, 460000, Russian Federation