Thursday, January 08, 2009

Fake designer goods in Viking times

Oh, oh...they better trust their sword's not too much.
"It must have been an appalling moment when a Viking realised he had paid two cows for a fake designer sword; a clash of blade on blade in battle would have led to his sword, still sharp enough to slice through bone, shattering like glass."

Alan Williams from London Museum and Tony Fry from the National Physical Laboratory in Teddington tested Ulfberht's swords from various collections and found a lot of them being fakes, especially the ones in graves.
Why am I telling you this? Well, you see, we visited the Viking Exhibition in Speyer after Christmas, and, when I was reading the news on these fake swords I remembered that I saw an Ulfbehrt at the exhibition. I wonder whether this one was a geniune one. The museum's catalogue just says it is from Lith in the Netherlands, but gives no information what so ever whether it was from a grave context or from a river. The one's in graves were mostly fake Ulfberht's. Well the dead one wouldn't have known the difference, would he?

The problem was indeed like mentioned in the citation above, that the fake ones scattered on impact, being made from Northern European Iron and welded in old-fashioned manner. A real Ulfberht was a gigantic innovation. It used carbon rich steel brought in from Afghanistan and the like via Byzanz along the Eastern route. Plus, a new form put the balance nearer to the hand which made the sword faster, in stroke and recovery. An Ulfberht was a quantum leap in technology. No wonder fakes are moving around like Chinese rolexes. But since the dead warrior wouldn't use his sword in a real fight anymore it is excusable and he probably would have understood very well that the extra money is better used in form of some decent mead.

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