Fire Gilding of Arms and Armor in the Medieval and Early Modern Periods

The practice of amalgam gilding goes back many centuries. It was used by the Romans to apply gold onto silver, known as silver-gilt. Gilding is the application of gold to the surface of some other material. Many techniques exist for doing this. A surface may be inlaid with gold wire (often referred to as damascening),[…]

The History of Military Ordnance in America

The American Revolution established the general outlines of the future Ordnance Department. By Karl RubisOrdnance Branch HistorianUnited States Army Introduction The Ordnance Branch is one of the oldest branches of the U.S. Army, founded on 14 May 1812. However, the duties and responsibilities of the profession date back to the colonial era. In 1629, the[…]

When Bowie Knives Were in Fashion in the 19th Century

Everyone carried a weapon. Some of them were even works of art. By Bill WorthenLate DirectorHistoric Arkansas Museum Even in the ball-room, the place, above all others, consecrated to pleasure, and where personal encounters should be least expected, these instruments of death are carried. Little Rock Times, February 28, 1835 At an interesting time in[…]

Ancient China’s Terracotta Army Bronze Weapon Preservation

The good metal preservation probably results from the moderately alkaline pH, a very small particle size of the burial soil, and bronze composition. By Dr. Marcos Martinón-Torres, et.al.Pitt-Rivers Professor of Archaeological ScienceUniversity of Cambridge Abstract For forty years, there has been a widely held belief that over 2,000 years ago the Chinese Qin developed an[…]

Medieval European Warfare: Technological, Social, and Cultural Developments

Developments forced a dramatic transformation in the character of warfare from antiquity, changing tactics, weaponry, and fortifications. Strategy and Tactics De re militari Publius Flavius Vegetius Renatus wrote De re militari (Concerning Military Matters) possibly in the late 4th century.[2] Described by historian Walter Goffart as “the bible of warfare throughout the Middle Ages”, De re militariwas widely distributed through the Latin West.[…]

Artillery in Medieval Europe

Artillery machines were used to good effect throughout antiquity and the medieval era. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction Artillery weapons in medieval Europe included the mounted crossbow (ballista) and single-arm torsion catapult (mangonel), both similar to ancient Roman machines. As armies battled further afield such as in the Byzantine Empire and against the Arab caliphates, in[…]

Ancient Chinese Warfare: Confucianism and Absence of Glory

The absence of a glorification of war in China was largely due to Confucian philosophy and literature. By Mark CartwrightHistorian Introduction In ancient China warfare was a means for one region to gain ascendancy over another, for the state to expand and protect its frontiers, and for usurpers to replace an existing dynasty of rulers.[…]