Lot 1562: Roman Pugio Dagger with Scabbard
December 8, 2016
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 1st-2nd century AD. An iron pugio dagger with long handle with terminating discoid boss, short hilt and leaf-shaped blade with central rib; bronze sheath with bands of plates riveted to the surface with incised lines, terminating roundel to the base with five studs; Iberian workmanship. 311 grams total, 34cm (13 1/4"). From an important English collection; acquired in the 1990s. The term pugio derives from the Latin term pugnus meaning fist.The word refers to the shape of the hand in the closed position necessary to hold this Roman sword. The immediate predecessor of the Roman pugio seems to be the so-called double-globular or Celtiberian bidiscoidal dagger. As early as the end of the 4th century BC and the beginning of the 3rd century BC there was evidence of the presence of the Celtiberian dagger on the Iberian Peninsula, however, the Roman pugio was not documented until the end of the 1st century BC. The Romans began to use this dagger as a result of the Celtiberian Wars which took place on the Iberian Peninsula on the occasion of the landing of the Romans in the year 218 BC. These battles extended throughout most of the Hispanic territory and were fought between the indigenous tribes who inhabited the Peninsula and the Roman army who were attempting to conquer the territory. During the Sertorian Wars of the1st century BC, with Hispania as one of the main settings, the Romans had begun to use the dagger. However, it wasn?t until the end of the Republic with the predominance of Julius Caesar and the beginning of the Empire with Augustus that the Roman pugio became more widespread throughout the Empire. The fact that Rome included Roman auxiliary troops in its army led to cultural contact and the assimilation of different technologies into the same. The auxiliary troops were soldiers recruited by Rome from amongst the non-citizen population, usually from the provinces of the Empire, and even from towns that had not been conquered. 
Condition Report: Fine condition.